Miles Hiked Today — 8.8
Total Trail Miles — 0
Tenting near Springer Mtn.
I started out the day in Atlanta, GA where I met my hiking partner. (Soon she will be given the trail name, TeaTree.) We have talked on the phone, but we haven't met until today. She is very sweet - a nice girl. Already I hope we will hike together a long way.
We got a ride to the Amicalola Falls State Park from a previous thru-hiker, trail name Hacksaw. After signing in at the Visitors Center, we weighed our packs. Mine is around 35 pounds - not bad!
The hiking was quite difficult but very beautiful. It was a tough climb to the top of the falls. Then about 7.8 miles more to the top of Springer where the Trail begins. It was pretty warm most of the day - in the 50s. When we got up into the higher elevations, it cooled off considerably. I am now in my sleeping bag with all of my clothes on!
I guess I wasn't prepared for how difficult this would be - hiking all day, getting water, making food, cleaning my pot out, worrying whether my stove would work. This is much harder than I thought! And of course, I miss (my husband) Scott, which makes it even harder. I'm still excited to be out here, but I'm genuinely wondering if I have what it takes.
Miles Hiked Today — 7.6
Total Trail Miles — 7.6
I'm sitting at the Storm Creek Shelter, 2.5 miles from Springer. Just had lunch with TeaTree and another thru-hiker. (Soon he will be given the trail name, Samurai.) This morning it was 18 degrees when we woke up. There was ice on my tent and on all the trees. It was beautiful but frigid!
(Later that evening)
I just got back in my tent after hanging out with about 20 folks around the campfire. Today was beautiful — clear skies and sunny, in the upper 40s probably. Perfect weather for hiking. I'm starting to get used to life on the Trail. Surprisingly, I'm not too sore yet.
Well, time for bed. I hardly got any sleep last night between the cold and the wind. I kept thinking there were animals walking next to my tent, but it was just the wind rustling.
Miles Hiked Today — 8.5
Total Trail Miles — 16.1
Tenting at Gooch Gap
For the past two hours I've been hanging out at the campfire with about 20 other thru-hikers, all really great, funny, kind people. Samurai read us the first chapter of Alice in Wonderland. That's how we all feel out here — like we've followed a white rabbit (or a white blaze, in this case) down a hole into another world.
I'm in my tent now and it's snowing like crazy! I hope I can dig myself out in the morning! I'm really starting to enjoy the sound of the wind in the mountains. I feel safe in my tent, but the noise of the wind is so loud, almost like an airplane. It strikes me just how powerful nature is.
Miles Hiked Today — 10.5
Total Trail Miles — 26.6
Woods Hole Shelter
Today we walked along the side of a mountain with 50 mph winds and freezing rain pelting at our faces. The day stayed cold and fierce. I wore all the clothes in my pack! We were afraid to stop for food for fear of getting hypothermia. I really felt that I was being tested. When we got to the shelter, I got right into my sleeping bag and was still freezing! I was too chilled to cook so I ate cold food.
Sometime during the night, as the winds were howling fiercely into the shelter, a mouse decided to make a nest in my backpack. "Gross" doesn't begin to describe it, but I tried to laugh it off.
Miles Hiked Today — 4.1
Total Trail Miles — 30.7
Goose Creek Cabins
This morning I was still freezing cold. On our way up Blood Mountain, we ran into about six inches of snow! I was very nervous going up.
After coming down the mountain, we arrived at Ned's Gap where I picked up some thru-hiking poles and a 40-degree sleeping bag to go inside my 20-degree bag as a liner. We marveled at the food there and I ate almost an entire can of Pringles and had a big cup of coffee. Yum! It was great to be warm again.
Now I'm at Goose Creek Cabins in a trailer complete with laundry, stove, etc., plus five other smelly thru-hikers. Tonight we're going out for pizza — of course, no cheese for me.
Miles Hiked Today — 10.6
Total Trail Miles — 41.3
Low Gap Shelter
I just got back into my tent after hanging out at the campfire. Some thru-hikers who have thru-hiked already were telling scary A.T. stories. I am now very scared! Next time they start doing that, I'm leaving and going to bed!
Today we hiked over 10 miles. It was quite a beautiful day. We ate lunch on top of a rock overlooking the gorgeous southern Appalachians. Georgia is more beautiful than I'd imagined. I feel so lucky to be here. There's nowhere on earth I'd rather be right now. I still miss Scott terribly and wish that he was here.
Miles Hiked Today — 13
Total Trail Miles — 54.3
The Cheese Factory Site
Today was our longest day yet — 13 miles! Another milestone for today was our first 1000-foot climb up Rocky Mountain. It was hard work, but extremely satisfying.
I still don't have a trail name, but many have been suggested: Doc because I fix things and give medicine out when needed; Starshine because of my tattoo; Mama Bear because I take good care of my cubs (the hikers around us). I'm not sure that any of these is right though. I kind of wish I had a trail name. Without one, I feel like the unpopular kid in school. Oh well, I'll just have to be patient, I guess.
Aside from a few aches and pains, I feel great hiking. My knee hurt a bit in the steep descents I did today but nothing serious.
Miles Hiked Today — 9
Total Trail Miles — 63.3
Deep Gap Shelter (Tenting)
I had hoped to stay in the shelter tonight, but it's filled with "weekenders." It's okay. I think I like my tent better — cozier, more private, and no snoring!
It's getting harder and harder to watch people eating all kinds of goodies. Since I'm vegan, I don't eat candy bars and cookies and mac n' cheese. I try to make sure that I eat lots of good snacks, but sometimes I get a little jealous of all the variety. I make up for it at dinner though. Everyone is always jealous of my dinners. Tonight I had spicy black beans with corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Everyone wanted to try it!
Miles Hiked Today — 3.5
Total Trail Miles — 66.8
The Blueberry Patch
After an easy morning hike, I'm now at the Blueberry Patch, a wonderful hostel near Hiawassee, GA. The owners do laundry for you, which is a huge plus. For the non-vegans (which is everyone but me) there's an incredible blueberry pancake breakfast. All this for $17!
I aired out my tent and two sleeping bags, which really improved their smell! I know, gross. But the "hiker funk" has really set in.
I got my first mail today — a long letter from my mom with some chocolate, and a letter and more chocolate from a friend who thru-hiked in '99. It's great to get mail! Still no vegan cookies though.
Miles Hiked Today — 8.8
Total Trail Miles — 75.6
Bly Gap on the GA/NC Border
I slept so soundly last night at the Blueberry Patch Hostel on a straw mattress. It's amazing how comfortable I can be, whether on the forest floor in my tent or on a rustic straw mattress in a bunkhouse full of smelly hikers.
We (Samurai, TeaTree, and I) hiked about nine miles today. It was another beautiful day and we hiked ourselves right out of Georgia. I'm amazed that I've come this far! It felt incredible to see that GA/NC line and know that I walked all that way.
I forgot to mention that Gary and Lenore of the Blueberry Patch cooked me a special stack of vegan pancakes this morning — they were amazing! I ate nine of them!!! I guess my thru-hiker appetite is starting to kick in!
I am really enjoying this simple life. At the end of the day today I sat alone on a gnarled old oak and reflected on the trip so far. Although it's cold and difficult, I love being out here. I do get lonely for Scott a lot, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.