Week 1: Amicalola to Hiawassee

A shower and clean laundry has never felt so good! Jetta and I have made it the first 69.6 miles on the AT and we are happily taking a nero at Top of Georgia Hostle in Hiawassee GA. Our first week has been outstanding and I am so proud of Jetta and myself. The only time I have cried so far is when I turned around and walked away from my husband at the top of Springer Mountain. Thank you dear for being my support person and for everything you do! The weather has been just about perfect for our first 9 days on trail and there have been no major mishaps. I am posting from my phone so for simplicity’s sake I will keep it short but there are some highlights to mention.

Consider this your warning!

I chose to start my hike at Amicalola Falls for several reasons but probably the leading reason was I wanted to tackle the infamous stairs. The Approach Trail  trail is an extra 8.8 miles of walking before you even get to Springer Mountain, but it’s worth it in my opinion if you get to be a bad ass by climbing the 604 steps up to the top of the falls and see the beautiful view. So, don’t do what my husband and I did and miss the start of the Approach Trail and go wandering up some other trail no one has heard about and come out on top of the falls missing the stairs and the falls completely. Never ANYWHERE did I come across any warnings about this in all the research I did before the trail and I know I can’t be the first to have done this. When you come thru the iconic arch behind the visitor center, take a hard left toward the Max Epperson Shelter if you want to do the steps at the falls



So unaware we are about to miss the crucial part. Take a hard left!

Take your time at the summit of Springer

You are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. Take a moment to revel in how awesome you are to get this far.


Take a friend and take your time! 


And take lots of pictures

The people rock!



Trail magic at Tesnatee Gap.

Just wait until your first trail magic. It is a beautiful thing to be tired and sore and thirsty and starving and come out of the woods to find a group of people dedicating their day to taking care of your ends and just so happy to do it. Trail magic is the shit!


A group of friends at Deep Gap Shelter.

The hiker bond is something special too. So many people I hardly know have offered to help me on trail and everyone is looking out for each other. Be prepared for what you are getting into when you set out on a thru hike but also know you will be surrounded by people who have your back.

That’s all for now.  I hope to post more in a couple weeks from a real computer.


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 7

  • Irvin Valle (coach) : Mar 14th

    My wife and i are currently training for our thru (not sure of date yet) by going on long hike, walks, 4 to 7 miles each afternoon. Unfortunately we are in south florida so our only hill training is at a huge landfill that was made into a park, otherwise we have to hit the stairmaster. We are cheering on all the thru hikers and following several so we know what to be prepared for. Keep the posts coming as I am sure we are not the only one’s living vicariously through your hikes.

    • Sara Ecay : Apr 16th

      Thank you for your support and good luck with your own planning, I hope some of what I write can be useful. I have met several people from Florida and they are all doing great although the altitude was a bit of a challenge at first. The time I spent in the gym doing weight lifting and cycling and yoga classes was undeniably beneficial. Happy Hiking!

  • Kathleen : Mar 14th

    “The only time I have cried so far is when I turned around and walked away from my husband at the top of Springer Mountain.” Maybe you didn’t know that I had that all covered? Thank goodness it wasn’t raining; I couldn’t bear the thought of that image. Excellent post.

  • Bill Florac : Mar 19th

    That is funny, I made the exact same mistake on the approach trail on my first AT section hike 8 years ago! Like you, I got to the top of the falls and said “WTF”? For a moment I considered going back down but at the time there was little water going over them and didn’t it was worth it. I believe both trails are blue or, well I assume the other one is blue as I did not follow it! What you actually followed, was the old approach trail before the steps went it. While it did not have steps, it was still quite a climb.

    • Sara Ecay : Apr 16th

      There you go we just did the historic Approach Trail. That has a nice ring to it 🙂

  • Jessica : Mar 19th

    Great job! Looking forward to hearing more about how Jetta is fairing (and you too of course)! I once had a dog named Jetta and now am contemplating taking my dog Maggie (she looks like your Jetta) on my hike. Just not sure when that will be.

    • Sara Ecay : Apr 16th

      It has been very rewarding to have her along as she loves it so much and everyone loves her. It is such a big commitment but every bit as rewarding so I hope you find time to make it happen!


What Do You Think?