Reflections on Georgia and the first few weeks of the AT
First few days on the trail
Hi everyone! Looking back, I started this incredible trek on April 10, which means I spent a little over 8 days working my way through Georgia. Here are a few points of reflection on my first few days.
- I’m glad I did a 0 day ramp up In Amicalola Springs. Prior to starting out on the actual Trail, I explored the park and hiked the park and falls part of the Approach Trail with my sister and my full gear. This ended up being very valuable in preparing myself for what came next, the AT Approach trail and actual AT, and gave me time to adjust my pack even before leaving.
- I brought too much stuff in my backpack. Preparing for the AT I used a series of YouTube videos, this website, and a few books to find the right balance of things needed for the AT. Honestly, I took things I thought would be helpful, but would only be beneficial if I were hiking higher mountains. Boot spikes and extra winter gear for cold days did not materialize into a good use of space. My total backpack weight hovered at 50lbs. More on why later.
- Water worries weighed me down. Out west, even hiking in the Cascades or the Olympics, where you’d think there’s plenty of water, often in summer the rivers and creeks dry out. I got used to hauling in and out 6 Liters of water for a day’s hike. I mistakenly thought the AT would be similar. Boy, was I wrong! Often there’s a suitable creek within a few miles along the trail to refill. What a relief this has been!
- Trail magic is magnificent and often arrives at unusual times. My first trail experience I actually missed the moment by about 30 min, a gentleman at Cooper Gap was already out of shareable supplies except beer, which didn’t appeal to my parched self. Instead, the next morning from Gooch Mountain Shelter, I got a fresh hotdog at 9 in the morning from Chris, a Trail Angel. What a moment it was to have a delicious hotdog on a cold morning after hiking 4 miles. He had fresh fruit too!
- Building out sustainable AM, midday, and PM routines is crucial to hiker happiness. I had expected mornings to be harder, but waking up to natural sunlight and birdsong has been one of the most pleasurable experiences about the AT. All success for the morning begins the night before – getting the right clothes, toiletries, water, tent configuration in place as I end a day makes the AM go much smoother. This includes activity like stretching and getting enough water for overnight and the morning.
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