My First Week: Sponsored by Ibuprofen
Day Zero: 8.8
I didn’t sleep at all last night. The combination of eating a bunch of crap food and being nervous ended in my being horrifically nauseous all night long. It was awful. I had originally planned to meet Allie and Julia for breakfast but couldn’t stomach the thought of food. We went to the pre-trail training and got our tags. My number is 747! The falls were crazy strenuous and definitely the hardest part of the day. Getting to Springer was very rewarding. I did a little hop skip around and feel awesome. Our campsite is chill. We met a guy named Mike who has the Tesla of backpacking stoves. Ours all sounded like jet planes and his barely hissed. Fell asleep listening to game of thrones audio book.
Day One: 11
Allie, Julia, and I woke up pretty early and started on breakfast. I realized I’m not a breakfast person on trail. I’m just drinking tea and snacking midmorning. We climbed down Springer and met an older man who we had run into a couple times already who has a white mustache and a lovely southern drawl. He was dubbed “Colonel.” Then there was a beautifully easy stroll through a pine forest with beautiful streams. We found a field and I sang the Sound of Music. Then things took a turn when we got to rougher terrain and it rained for maybe two hours. Nothing awful. We climbed halfway up Sassafras Mountain and camped in a flat area. We met Lionheart, Cerberus, and Nova hiking past our camp. We tried to get them to stay by offering our water but they pressed on. Bear bags took three hours to hang and some military noises in the p.m.
Day Two: 13
Very chilly morning on Sassafras. We had a great morning and stopped for an hour lunch at Gooch Gap in the sun. It was high 50s/low 60s all day. Had some beautiful outlooks near Woody Gap. Ran into Lionheart again with his pups at the start of Blood Mountain Wilderness. He said that the previous night that he felt like we were witches/sirens atop a mountain all by our lonesomes. We finished off the day into Lance Creek where we had very close quarters camping. But it was a gorgeous day with high temperatures and an easy night.
Day Three: 14.2
Julia, Allie, and I woke up at 7 a.m. to pack up camp and be en route to Mountain Crossings by 8ish. We climbed Blood Mountain. A very hard and cold climb to one of the oldest stone shelters on the AT. The views were worth it. I went a little overboard on the climb down but we walked into Neel Gap whooping. We resupplied and hung out for two hours. Then, plus Dave, we rolled out and started the excruciating second half of the day. We were all in pain and really feeling the mileage. Camp is by a spring. It’s forecast to be raining tonight and all day tomorrow. I’m nervous.
Day Four: 11.9
It didn’t rain overnight! We were encased in fog all day today. For lunch we rolled into Low Gap Shelter where a bunch of hikers were taking shelter. Arya, Hannah, and Alex came with and we had a lovely fire. Not much happened the whole day. We walked a lot and scrambled up to Blue Mountain Shelter where everyone was prepping for the oncoming thunderstorm. We saw a lot of people that we’ve been hiking around: Aloha, Aquaman, Cure, Falcon (like Millenium), and Burner. It started pouring and we all hunkered into our tents post-dinner. The lightning was insane and kept most of us up all night. On the plus side… 50-mile mark has been packed!
Day Five: 13.7
We had morning trail magic with sausage, Gatorade, and oranges at Unicoi Gap. Allie took an Uber into town to replace her hammock. Julia and I hiked Trey alone, where it hailed on us at the top. My knee was awful so I took a bunch of ibuprofen and tried to grit my teeth. Near the end of the day, we had to hike down into a ravine to carry water into camp and I sat down at the bottom and cried. I started thinking about how I could sell my gear to buy a return ticket home. But Julia came through and we waltzed singing and howling down the rest of the mountain to go into Addis Gap, where our bubble of people were all waiting for us. Schmutz was named and I officially accepted Binx as my trail name. PS: We saw bear hair and a really pretty gnarled tree.
Day Six: 5.4
Our tramily woke up super early to hike in to Hiawassee/Top of Georgia Hostel. It seemed like a super quick hike in and my knee was feeling slightly better. We walked from Dicks Creek to Top of Georgia, where we had a miserable time checking in and getting laundry done. Finally, five hours later, we got a shuttle into town to meet our fellow thru-hiking buds at the Hiawassee Brew. It’s been a beautiful nero.
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Sounds like you are having fun.
Word of warning about Lionheart: met him and his dogs (they aren’t real service dogs. Nova attacked two other dogs in the highlands two years ago though his pit bulls seem friendly enough) in 2017 when he was “attempting a thru hike”. He claims to be an ex-soldier but any real service people out there will tell you he’s not after just a few minutes of Q&A.
He picked up two different ladies that he hiked with early in ‘17 but they wised up and moved on. Never saw him again after early Virginia. Just putting it out there to be careful around that guy. He’s a fraud.
Good luck and HYOH!
“Bear bags took three hours to hang . . . ” Seriously? Boy, I hope you’re able to get that figured out soon.
Dang. I didn’t start singing songs from “The Sound of Music” with my trail pals until mid-Virginia, when we were hiking up flower-covered hills in early May and felt like Julie Andrews.
Well, kinda. Anyway, it was fun, and if you’re already that joyous, more power to you!