Miles -8.5 to 100: Approach Trail to Albert Mt Fire Tower
Every 100 miles, we’ll prepare a summary of our experience along with other beta for the trail! In this case, it’s more than 100 because the approach trail doesn’t count towards the total mileage of the AT (but we highly recommend doing it anyway!).
Amicolola Falls was incredible! We checked in at the base and weighed our packs… Bit on the heavy side with food & water. Claudia- 30#, Andrew- 43#. Gloria slackpacked us to the top of the 600+ stairs and Paige & Daniel walked with us. At the top, we prayed and said goodbye. We signed the registry again on top of Springer Mt. The sunset and sunrise were both stunning from our campsite.
In the first 100 miles, the AT passes through Georgia & North Carolina. The trail summits several mountains, follows ridge lines, and dips into gaps. After 78.5 miles there is a small wooden sign on a tree announcing the first state crossing. It is monumental for thru-hikers!
Weather is variable, like it is anywhere! One night we spent under an overhang on Justice Mt with Smokey Bear, Tortuga, and Doc J. Other times, we camp in big groups of 20-30! There are so many thru-hikers starting out right now. Everyone has the same goal- walk North. We’re all very different, yet we can relate easily. One night I found some vibrant paracord and made everyone trail bracelets! Always crafting. Trail life is similar to a relay- we leap frog hikers/groups each day, always sharing information and stories. The Buffalo Bastards have been an invaluable source of information, as several of them thru-hiked in 2014. (They’re doing the PCT in 3 weeks.)
On day 4 we hit our first resupply at Neels Gap. It was nice to get more food and Tortuga even shared his hot supreme pizza! A lot of people drop off at this point for various reasons. The tree is full of boots from those that have quit (or just gave up on boots and switched to shoes…).
Easter was a very wet & soggy day. No sunshine but we rejoiced none the less! The sun always comes back, not always right away, or even the next day, but we always sleep warm & dry. Blue skies are great but fog is fine too.
Trail magic has been, well, magical. We’ve received soda, homemade cookies, and beer. Two thru-hikers from last year carried a full cooler of beer and Gatorade to Standing Indian shelter to share! Impressive!! Big Country (& his dog Ammo) told us military stories for a couple miles and then ended up giving us a ride later on.
Cooking has been an interesting endeavor! We are using a different system than most. (I have yet to eat Ramen or tuna.) It’s a creative process using dry ingredients and spices. We take turns each night and share/rate our recipe. There is a back country chef, Greg Ward, who we met online previously through Appalachian Trials. We’ve camped with him a few times and it’s great to get professional feedback!
Favorite Recipes from 1st 100 Miles:
Tomato Pepperoni Casserole
2/3 cup rice, 2/3 cup quinoa, 2/3 cup TVP chicken bits, 2-3 Tbsp dried tomato paste, 2-3 Tbsp dried spinach, 1-2 Tbsp dried onion, generous amount of oregano, cover in Pepperoni once cooked.
1 cup rice, 2/3 cup TVP chicken chunks, 1/3 cup dried carrots, 1/3 cup dried celery, generous onion powder and dried onion, 2 Tbsp turmeric
Where we stayed/mileage:
Spring Mt (.2 of AT, 8.5 of approach trail), Justice Mt cave/overhand (12.8), Lance Creek (11.5), Bull Gap (8.5), Poplar Stamp Gap (11.8), Tray Mt (14), Plum Orchard (15.5), Standing Indian (12.2), Carter Gap Shelter (7.6, huge thunderstorms), on day 10 we hiked to Albert Mt (100 mile mark) and then on into town… which we’ll document later on!
squirrels, skink, mice (heard them but haven’t seen them)
What we’re reading:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Claudia) and Run or Die by Kílian Jornet Burgada (Andrew)
Trail Beta for Future Hikers:
- Don’t skip the approach trail! Or Long Creek waterfall! (Only 100 yards off the trail; don’t be lazy!!)
- Always remember which way you went into a campsite. We’ve gotten in the habit of saying out loud, “Left in, left out,” or, “Right in, right out.”
- Top of Georgia was not a good resupply. We just bought a few snacks to supplement our food and it was over $30. We did enjoy a soda and ice cream there but they weren’t super friendly, which is odd because their business is built around hikers.
- Andrew learned a new backpack hanging device from a nice family we camped with. Tie a series of overhand knots and hang it around a tree! Then, you don’t have to bend over your pack to pack it up. (Great for tall hikers especially.)
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