Let there be Blood (Mountain): My First Week on the Trail

What an adventure this trip has been so far! I feel like a day on the trail has been the equivalent of a week in the office. Since this is my first update, bear with me, I promise I’ll get better at blogging and storytelling!



Sooo Cooold

I started March 14 at Amicalola Falls at 9:30 AM shivering with cold and anticipation. My buddy Brian had picked me up from the airport and planned to hike with me for a time. I decided to do the approach trail (8.8 mile trail that leads to the start of the AT) since I’m a sucker for pain. The falls were beautiful, but the stairs (all 650 of them) to the top were a rude awakening. When it started to snow on the way up the stairs, I should’ve known what kind of night I was in for.


Amicalola Falls and the dreaded steps

After the stairs, the approach trail turned out to be a pretty steady climb to Springer Mountain. I met a guy named Ed along the way, who at 7 miles in decided to announce he had to stop straightaway since he hadn’t eaten anything that morning or the night before. After unpacking his pack and finding some peanut butter, he proceeded to break his spork in half on his very first scoop. Moral of the story: don’t be like Ed: fuel your body! I haven’t seen him since (sad face).

After making it to Springer and snapping a picture, Brian and I made it to our first campsite at Stover Creek. The night was miserable. 17 degrees with a 9 degree wind chill. For those of you at home in your comfortable beds, just imagine dunking your feet in ice water and trying to fall asleep.

In the morning after not sleeping, everything was frozen! I attempted to make coffee which got cold before I could even drink it. Have you ever heard the phrase “stupid cold?” Well, when it gets that cold you do stupid things like grabbing your hot stove and burning a small hole in your glove on morning one #guilty!  Brian decided not to attempt another cold night like that so he headed back to his truck. I really don’t blame him. For me, I definitely set a new threshold of pain.

Luckily, I have the world’s best heater. All you have do to warm up is walk. I met and hiked with Dave, aka D.C. Dave, and Chelsea and her dog Jesko throughout the day and made it to Justus creek Campiste where my first bear bag attempt (hanging your food so bears don’t get it) only took ten tries! No doubt I’ll  get better at that.

Laurel Creek Falls

Laurel Creek Falls

Day three was the first above freezing day. THANK GOD. My knees and Achilles started hurting a bit so I took it slow. I met Pat and Mr. Deeds, two retired gentlemen who were a pleasure to hike with. I also discovered how necessary it is to scout out good cathole (pooping) spots as you walk. You can’t understand the pain of deciding to wait till you get to an outhouse or jumping off the trail to dig a hole until you’ve been backpacking. I sure do miss a porcelain throne.



Lunch at Blood Mountain

Next up was Blood Mountain, the highest point on the AT in Georgia. The top was icy! It was all socked in (overcast) when I got up there so no view at first. Can’t win them all. Just as I gave in to a climb without a view the clouds opened up and I was treated to an outstanding view of Northern Georgia. Perfect lunch spot.

I made it into Neels Gap, the first outfitter on the trail, where a lot of people drop off the trail. Not me!


The quitters tree at Mountain Crossings


Trail Magic!! Thanks Bobby!

The next day was my first day of rain on the trail. Packing up a wet tent in the rain sucks! Luckily the sky cleared and I got experience my first trail magic from bobby who made some bomb chicken soup!


The view from Rocky Mountain!


Camp life

I made it to the top of Rocky Mountain which has been my favorite campsite of the trip so far! I camped with the group I’ve been staying with, had a great fire, and a beautiful sunset!

The next day consisted of two steep climbs up Tray mountain and Kelly Knob. It was the first day my body felt relatively pain free so I powered through the day on Cliff bars and trail    mix. I decided to push an extra mile to the Powell Mountain vista campsite which proved to be a great decision. Only two other people were there (most of the campsites have been packed since most thru hikers start in March) and the view of sunset and sunrise rocked! What can I say, I’m a glutton for views.img_4012 img_4013

I made it to the Top of Georgia Hostel where I finally got to shower and resupply. I’ll be taking my first zero day (a day off) to recover Wednesday, but NC is only 9 miles away! Stay tuned!

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Comments 10

  • Martha Cowan : Mar 21st

    AJ…you don’t know me, but I am your mom’s cousin…your grandma Sylvia and my mom were sisters. I am FB friends with your mom, that’s how I saw your blog. We are so proud of you and keep up the great walking! It will be very fun to watch your adventure.Martha

  • Drena Francis : Mar 21st

    Great job AJ! Have fun and thanks sharing.

  • Gary Stell : Mar 22nd

    Good job AJ, keep at it and enjoy every minute of your hike. You’re making memories that will last a lifetime! Maybe I’ll see ya out there! Happy Trails!

  • Steven Newland : Mar 22nd

    You don’t know me but i have a passion for the outdoors. Planning thru-hike on the AT in 2018. Thanks for sharing your adventure and pics. Will be following you throughout your hike. I work at Everglades NP as a wild land firefighter and plan to retire in June. I have already starting the planning stage for 2018. I plan to follow as many folks on there 2017 thru-hike to see what i may encounter on my hike. I will be 68 on 5/3/2018 and looking forward to 2018. Take Care!

  • Joseph : Mar 25th

    Hike the hike brother, tally-ho.

  • Joe P : Mar 25th

    Nice going so far, and thanks for posting this. Hope you are enjoying the hike so far and will send thoughts of good weather your way.

  • Loretta DePriest : Apr 6th

    AJ, your blog is awesome, I feel like I’m there. Maybe you’ve met my son, Corey (Honest Abe) trail name. He started about the same time. He’s having trouble getting his phone to work, so communication is scarce. Be Strong and carry on!!!

    • Kevin C : Aug 31st

      Enjoying reading your blog. I plan my first trip on the AT in late March/ early April ’18. I plan on doing Springer to Dicks Creek Gap/Hiwassee. Thanks again for such a great blog! It’s been areal source of encouragement!

      • Kevin C : Aug 31st

        Ha sorry lost track of where I was typing on the screen ??

  • Kevin C : Aug 31st

    Enjoying reading your blog. I plan my first trip on the AT in late March/ early April ’18. I plan on doing Springer to Dicks Creek Gap/Hiwassee. Thanks again for such a great blog! It’s been areal source of encouragement!


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