Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Appalachian Trail 2016 Update 1: Amicalola Falls GA to Hiawassee GA

April 29 to May 4
Start Location: Amicalola Falls State Park GA
End Location: Hiawassee GA (mile 69.6)
Total Miles Hiked: 69.6 (plus 8.8 mile Approach Trail)
Miles Left: 2119.5
Miles Since Last Update: N/A

April 29
Start Location: Amicalola Falls State Park
End Location: Stover Creek Shelter (mile 2.8)
Total Miles: 2.8 (plus 8.8 mile Approach Trail)

After a big breakfast at the Hiker Hostel (where I got to try grits for the first time, making me a legit southerner), I got shuttled to Amicalola Falls State Park.  I registered for my thru hike, as the 1711th hiker to register at the park.

Tortoise at the start of the Approach Trail

I started hiking at 11:30 am and was immediately faced with an 800 foot climb up 604 stairs.  I was worn out by the time I got to the top, but the view was fantastic.

Tortoise at the top of Amicalola Falls
The stairs were a bit much for me
I made good time to the top of Springer Mountain, climbing a total of 2000 feet from the base of the falls.  I had dinner on the mountain, celebrating being at the official start point of the AT.

Tortoise on top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail

After I finished dinner, 3 other thru hikers trickled in (Moss Man, TBD, and Library).  Another hiker showed up, on a section hike with his son.  He gave us some cheese and trail mix, which was quite nice after the long climb.

I hiked with Moss Man to Stover Creek Shelter, 2.8 miles from Springer.  We found a secluded campsite and set up our tents.  TBD stopped by later, having set up his tent close to us.  We enjoyed a fire that evening, and stayed up for a while visiting.

April 30
Start Location: Stover Creek Shelter (mile 2.8)
End Location: Just past Gooch Mountain Shelter (mile 16.0)
Total Miles: 13.2

I got started around 8:30 am, a little later than I was hoping for.  I ran into two hikers from Georgia who I had met the night before.  I kept running into them for most of the day.  They told me (in thick southern accents) that Deliverance was real, and that there were people in the mountains who were watching me.  That was a little unnerving.

I climbed Sassafras Mountain, going up 700 feet.  After descending the mountain I found spme jugs of water that someone had left for thirsty hikers.  That was nice, as I was low on water.

View climbing Sassafras Mountain

I made it to Gooch Mountain Shelter at mile 15.8 and cooked supper, burning my finger on my stove.  I hiked a little further and found Moss Man.  I contemplated pushing on, but it started raining quite hard, so I decided to camp with Moss Man.  My tent got completely soaked, but my sleeping bag stayed dry.

May 1
Start Location: Just past Gooch Mountain Shelter (mile 16.0)
End Location: Whitley Gap Shelter (mile 38.4)
Total Miles: 22.4

I got a 6:00 am start, making it to Woody Gap in good time. On the way there I saw a turtle. Tortoise found a turtle. How neat is that?

I met up with Moss Man climbing Blood Mountain (the highest mountain in Georgia). We hiked to the top together. The stone shelter at the top looked creepy with all of the fog.

Moss Man and I hiked to Neels Gap together. I topped up my food supply at the store and got a much needed hot dog (for 3 days I had been telling everybody about my plan to get that hot dog; it was all I could think about). I hiked with Moss Man to Bull Gap where he was going to camp. I decided to do a night hike and push on to Whitley Gap Shelter at mile 38.4. That meant a 22 mile day. Tough, but doable.

As daylight began to fade I found a snail. I found Franklin and his best friend. My inner 5 year old was pretty stoked.

I got lost a few times, but I found a half empty cherry coke that lifted my spirits (I know, I'm disgusting). I eventually made it, absolutely exhausted.

May 2
Start Location: Whitley Gap Shelter (mile 38.4)
End Location: Just before the Cheese Factory (mile 56.4)
Total Miles: 18

I left my campsite around 10:00 am.  I made pretty sluggish progress until Moss Man caught up to me after about 5 miles of hiking.  We hiked together to the top of Blue Mountain, but ended up splitting up on the descent.  There was a 1000 foot descent to Unicoi Gap, followed by a 1000 foot ascent up Rocky Mountain, where Moss Man was camped.  I had dinner at Moss Man's campsite, trying a freeze dried chicken dumpling meal.  It was quite good.  I pushed on, doing the 1000 foot descent to Indian Grave Gap, and began climbing Tray Mountain.  I stopped around the Cheese Factory Site, which is about mile 56.

May 3
Start Location: Just before the Cheese Factory (mile 56.4)
End Location: Dick's Creek Gap (mile 69.6)
Total Miles: 13.2

I got started around 9 am and made fairly descent progress.  I had 13 miles to Dicks Creek Gap, where I hoped to get a ride to Hiawassee.  Much like previous days, Moss Man caught up with me, and we hiked from Kelly Knob to the road crossing where I was stopping,  He was pushing on, so we said goodbye.  I'm hoping I'll be able to catch up to him soon.

I was standing with my thumb out for all of 30 seconds before I got picked up.  The man who picked me up was actually running to be a state representative which was pretty cool.  He took me right to the Holiday Inn where I would be staying.

That evening I went to Daniel's All You Can Eat which had all sorts of Gone With the Wind stuff.  That made me quite happy.  I took many showers, enjoyed the hot tub, and got a much needed rest.

May 4
Start Loaction: Hiawassee
End Location: Hiawassee
Total Miles: 0

Today was a zero day for me, meaning I took the day off.  I decimated Taco Bell and Subway, bought groceries, bought 200 band aids (they'll be gone soon), and bought a bit more fuel.  Tomorrow I get back on the trail where I will finish the Georgia section and move on to North Carolina.

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