Well This is Kinda Hard
On February 16 I arrived at Amicalola State Park to start NOBO on the AT. I got a tent site and set up for a good nights sleep before jump off day. The weather turned very windy and cold and I spent the night adding layer after layer of clothes to stay warm. I kept thinking, “You haven’t left the parking lot and you’re all ready struggling.”
Next day I started the Springer Mt. Approach Trail. The Falls are beautiful and the view took my mind off my poor aching butt. I was told by other hikers that this portion is one of the longest and steepest climbs on the trail. Wasn’t in the brochure I read. After a lot of huffing and puffing I reached the official start of the AT, about 8.8 miles. Unbeknownst to me there is a trail head .9 miles beyond the AT trail start marker. Its not considered cheating to backtrack to the marker and turn around to head north. My butt muscles were screaming for no reason!
First night on the trail the temperature dropped to 6 degrees with strong winds. What I learned in the parking lot served me well and I had a cozy night except for the fact of nature that if you drink enough to stay hydrated you are going to have to climb out of that toasty cacoon and trek a proper distance to pee. Not fun, not fun at all.
The next night was forecast to be very cold with freezing rain and strong winds. I made a rare adult decision to cadge a ride to the Hikers Inn near Ellijay where Josh, Duff and the rest of the staff were extremely accomodating. One very interesting presentation they put on is called a “Pack Shakedown.” The idea is to take everything out of someones pack and do a keep/don’t keep shake down. Its amazing what is really needed and what isn’t.
Back on the trail I started to get into travelling mode. “I’m here, I need to be there before dark.” I really took to heart the advice given by Josh at the Inn. Always have water and know where you can get more and its impossible to eat enough while staggering around these Georgia Mountains.
Early in a hike like this the emotions seem to be as up and down as the terrain. If you’re an Edgar Allen Poe fan you probably are familiar with “The Bells”. To get into my hiking cadence I’ve changed his words to “The Hills, the Hills…
So by day six I am getting a lot of the practical side of long distance hiking figured out. I’d characterize it so far as “do what needs to be done when it is time to do it”
Its time for bed. More to come.
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What a whiner! Do not know how you are doing that my friend. All the best.
And exactly when was it that February seemed like a good start date for this?! Ed, you are an inspiration, and I am honored to be your friend. ps I’m going to steal the Decathlon for the summer…..
Good to hear from you the other day. Thinking of you making your way through the trails and over the mountains just like everything else you’ve done in your life, you’ll get it done.
Proud to call you my friend,
Good luck! As someone who loves to backpack on the AT here in Virginia and a pilot, I wish you the best of luck!!! I wish I could find the time to hike the whole thing. Stay strong!!
I’ve through hiked all of Georgia when I was young. It was very rough. Good luck and stay safe. You’re getting an early start. Lookout for some good snows in NC and Tn. That weather up there is as unpredictable as a bipolar woman.
Very interested in following your progress. I hope to hike the trail in 2018 after retirement. Be careful and stay warm!
Dusty Pilgrim here, While at your age you ‘ll feel a bit out side, but it’s not bad concidering since there have been many younger than us who have completed the trail several times…. Love it that you hike the Trail for unselfish reasons; its a very good cause! On the comforting side, The Trail will take to great places and wonderful people. I’m out in front of you but not by much . Those screaming muscles will firm up and you’ll never feel those ones again…. Others will be sounding off. Keep your chin up , Good weather is coming, more folks are on the Trail than ever before, many of them have a story to be told, If you catch me I’ll tell you mine…. Until then Happy a trail to you !
Hey, I know you can do it. Remember when you slept out in the open in a sleeping bag in, if my memory serves me correctly, January at Falmouth? So this is just another bunch of steps. Honestly, Ed, we are so proud of you doing this. Love ya a bunch.