Day 1 – Amicalola Falls – Springer Mountain Shelter — 8.9 Miles
I can’t believe I’m actually here on the trail right now, laying in Springer Mountain Shelter as I’m writing this. It felt surreal walking through the arch that I’ve seen in all the videos and walking up the stairs of Amicalola Falls. I got to the Amicalola Welcome Center around 2 this afternoon and registered for my thru hike. I forget what number I was, but it was somewhere in the 2000s. The kid who registered me gave me a little orientation and then I started my hike. It couldn’t have been more beautiful to hike in. Sunny and 70s with a little breeze. I walked up the approach trail which starts with 645 steps next to a waterfall. Once I got to the top it was another 7.7 miles to the summit of Springer Mountain. The approach trail is the “unofficial start” of the A.T. and decided to do it for the experience. The miles today won’t count to the actual Appalachian Trail, but that’s ok. It will officially start at the summit of Springer. I ate a bunch of snacks on the way and stopped at a little stream to fill my water bottles. It was the first time using my filter out in the wild and felt pretty cool. I got up to the summit of Springer in about 4 hours, saw my first white blaze, then met a bunch of other really nice thru hikers. Tonight for dinner I made mashed potatoes with sardines and a tuna wrap. I feel a little sore from the hike, I think my pack is a little too heavy at around 40 pounds, but overall it was a great day and I can’t wait for tomorrow. Haha there are so many mice scurrying around me right now I’m definitely going to set up my tent tomorrow night.
Day 2 – Springer Mountain Shelter -Gooch Mountain Shelter — 15.7 Miles
Last night the mice were so bad I had to leave the shelter and set up my tent in the dark. I grabbed my bag and when when I shined the headlamp on it mice started scurrying out of it. Someone told me that it’s a good idea to open up all the pockets so that the mice will be able to go in if they smell something and go out when they don’t find anything, so I did that. Tonight I decided to pitch my tent right away and take a break from the shelter. Today was a great day. Sunny and beautiful. I woke up, made some breakfast which was oatmeal mixed with protein powder and instant coffee and I will definitely never do that again. I didn’t feel too sore from yesterday so I was excited to be out on the trail. I walked a quick 8 miles, eating snacks on the way and stopping to fill my water bottles a couple times. My hip belt has a couple pouches on it so I fill it with snacks and eat it on the go. I passed a bunch of hikers and so far everyone has been so friendly. I also saw a huge black snake that was just laying in the middle of the trail not moving at all and I was scared to step over it so I waited until it slithered away. At the 8 mile mark I stopped and had lunch with three section hikers I met, Chad, Jim, and Greg. They were cool dudes all from Georgia and wanted to get away for a few days. I ate a couple tuna wraps and some spoonfuls of peanut butter. This was around 1 o’clock so I decided to hike on to the next shelter which was another 8 miles away. About ten minutes later I passed a couple hiking with their dog, said hello, and the as I was walking away the guy said “Sassafras Mountain is a bitch by the way!” Haha thought it was funny. It was a tough climb, but definitely was not as challenging as anything in the Whites. I didn’t really see many hikers on the trail besides that, but when I got to the shelter there were a bunch of bikers already here and their tents were already set up. For dinner tonight I had pad Thai then my brother got me for Christmas,a snickers bar, and a protein shake. I met this 75 year old Southbound hiker and talked to him for a while and asked a lot of questions. I feel good so far and very happy that I’m out here. Tomorrow I will try to hike another 15 miles to get to Neels Gap and have a shower and eat some pizza.
Day 3 – Gooch Mountain Shelter – Neels Gap (Mountain Crossings) — 15.4 Miles
I made it 31.1 miles to Neels Gap today! This is the spot where 25% (unofficially) of thru hikers call it quits. I’m happy to say that I will be hiking on and I can’t wait for what is to come next. This morning I woke up at around 6:30 to the sound of a stream right by me and started to breakdown my tent. I ate an oatmeal bar and had a protein shake, filled my hip pouches up with bars and trail mix, and started on my way. Today was supposed to rain, but the rain never came. A couple hours into my hike I stopped to refill my water and “Undertoe” caught up to me. Undertoe is a flip-flop thru hiker I met at Springer Mountain the first night. He has already hiked the mid-Atlantic part of the trail. He’s a really nice guy and has shared so much information with me. Throughout the day we continued the pattern of hiking past one another as we stopped for water or food and eventually would meet up at Mountain Crossings Hostel. Today I hit Blood Mountain which honestly was tough, especially the descent. It was from mile 13-15.4 of my day and my legs were shot. I was ready to get to the hostel and eventually I made it around 3:30. Thankfully there was a bunk open so I got my spot, took a shower, ate a pizza with Undertoe, resupplied for food, and talked to a bunch of thru hikers. Hobbit, Sherpa, Spaceship just to name a few. I’m not sure how far I’m walking tomorrow, but my mind and body still feel good and am looking forward to keep making progress.