I woke up just shy of the summit of Springer Mountain in a wet fog. The air temperature would made for fine hammocking but strong gusts starting early in the morning pushed it to officially being “cold.” I hopped up a little giddy to be where dreams take place and because the GATC (Georgia Appalachian Trail Club) installed a new pit toilet shockingly close to my camp. I never seem to be in a rush and this morning wasn’t much different. I woofed down two pop tarts, a máte, and took in the morning dew. At about 9-ish I packed up gingerly and started the thru-hike.
Six miles into the trail the Georgia Adventure Club had a smorgasbord of fatty cakes, sugar drinks and grilled meat. With tunnel vision setting in and before making much eye contact with anyone, I threw down my backpack and started on a hot dog. I know I just barely started hiking and I didn’t have an excuse to act so hungry, but I felt in character. I stuffed my pockets and hands and made a getaway over to a huddle of what looked like fellow thru-hikers.
I know I just barely started hiking and I didn’t have an excuse to act so hungry, but I felt in character.
Everyone was from all over the place. Adventurous pilgrims from Minnesota, Florida, Austria, some Virginas, Oregon, and Scotland all came out to see what the Appalachians had to offer. Everyone was friendly and eager to get deep into the trail. Everyone was sick of being asked if they were hiking to Maine because it was too soon to have earned the right to.
We trickled out towards Hawk Mountain Shelter. Most of the pack stayed there while a few of us decided to take on Justice Mountain. After a grueling rise and fall I camped at Justice Creek with Natale and Nikita. I first met Natale going the wrong way 3 miles north of Springer because some trail runners turned her around with some misguided advice. Natale has purple hair, a beautiful technicolor belt bag, and was sick of living in Nashville. Nikita is fresh off the boat from Scotland enjoying her first visit to America. I spent most of the evening comparing cultures with her and fixin a palak paneer pasta dinner.
After dinner I found myself falling asleep at a gentleman’s 815pm. Eleven hours later I hopped out of the hammock and felt ready. I packed up fast and drank mate slow. I ended up hiking and chatting with Nikita most of the day. We stopped at a few clear overlooks to soak up the view of Georgia from the top floor.
I not very subtlety expressed how I thought we should all obey the camping ban and that rules in the forest are cool. I think I blew my cover.
Nikita and I decided to camp just shy of Jarrard gap. We would have kept plodding along but the Chattahoochee National Forest requires a bear canister (a burly and bulky plastic container to store food in at night) for camping between Jarrard and Neels gap. A bear canister requirement was unheard of in the southeast until two years ago in this section. Requiring a canister is a simple way to give the overly impacted Blood Mountain section a rest from overnight use as it discourages thru-hikers (who don’t carry canisters) from camping along that section. I’m a sucker for direct management for conservation so I not very subtlety expressed how I thought we should all obey the camping ban and that rules in the forest are cool. I think I blew my cover.
Feels like rain tonight. I slapped up a hang with the tarp positioned to cut the wind and lock me down in case of a bad storm. I made and semi-enjoyed some Korean noodles with dehydrated celery and a lot of butter and cheese. Nikita explained how Scotland is finally up for independence this September. Citizens of Scotland have a vote to stay with London or bail. Gotta cheer for freedom.
Tomorrow looks like Blood Mountain and then Neels gap. Highest mountain in Georgia and they only place the At has a roof. Big days in the beginning. Lets hope nothing breaks.