Number of miles walked – 69.5 (officially, plus some)
Number of blisters – 0
Extra amount of wind from heavily processed American food in comparison to Mexican food – INFINITE
So here I am in Hiawassee, Georgia, having my first zero day (not really as I walked into town, but almost).
I find this portion of the southern US fascinating, lovely and rather terrifying all at the same time. A strange bundle of feelings. I really love the incredibly (and genuinely) warm people all over these parts. It’s great to have a warm welcome after 8 days on the trail, even though the weather for the large part has been perfect (so far!).
Anyway, you want to hear about the mountains and my titanic struggles no doubt and this trip is going to be about all of the above. Although, the human experience seems to be just as important as any other.
So, let’s skip back about 10 days or so.
I arrive in Atlanta. I’m screwed, right before I pick up the bat. Sr. Tendon is causing all kinds of shit. When I arrived I had electrical feelings n weird pain shooting up and down my tendon and calf, something I hadn’t felt before.
Six Newcastle Browns later on the balcony of the hostel (ex-brothel) and I was feeling a little more relaxed. Walked a good few miles round suburban malls the next day picking up gear at 50% normal speed. To cut a long story short I went from hopelessness to hopeful in 24 hours. Things were looking up. The pain all but disappeared over night. Maybe the elevation and oxygen levels have something to do with it? I live at 7500 feet and have problems, Georgia and the beach, no issues….???….. anyway.
Got up to the trail and stayed in the Hiker Hostel. Hung out, got to know a few folks. Went up to Mountain Crossings to get fitted for shoes and backpack last. I highly recommend this. Loads of people told me the same thing, and it took me a while to listen. Save yourselves time and money and listen to Uncle Jakey on your through hike. They’re the real experts, worth the extra cost for a shuttle and slightly higher prices for their advice and your peace of mind.
Me outside Hiker Hostel weighing my pack – 33lbs with water. Win.
We hit the trail the next morning after a hearty breakfast of grits and pancakes.
Unlike most people, I didn’t hike the approach trail. I highly recommend this way of doing things. Most people in my section agreed, the approach trail is hard as hell, exhausting and risks injury before you even get to the trail. Screw that shit. Have an easy first day. You know I’m right.
Fat me at the start of the trail – Springer Mountain
I start out slow. 5.7 miles day one. I camped next to a nice stream and hung out with older hikers I haven’t seen since. One guy’s in jean shorts! I name him Lasange Knee as he spills it all over it. It stuck, but I doubt the name did. I hear all sorts of reasons for hiking I hear round camp… ex-wife hoovered up the coke and screwed the dealer, laid off, nothing better to do, and so on.
The trail – Mayapples growing.
Next day, risky 10 mile day paid off. Hung out with the Big Lebowski who broke his toe day 2 and is probably off trail now, Oz. I was up and down about 4 mountains then ran out of water 2 miles before camp. Sitting there delirious and hungry in the rain and heat knowing I was in the right place!
I walked, walked, then walked.
Next day, I see Oz and sit in his pick up truck out of the rain down the trail some. Dried myself and my gear out in his heated car and got through a good few beers shooting the shit. Awesome guy, hope he gets back on the trail.
Me and The Dude (Oz) warming up in the parking lot!
Day 3 I climbed Blood Mountain and met Acorn Ass (thru-hiked in 1979). They dropped me beers off at Neel Gap on the other side of the mountain as they don’t sell booze there! They got my hopes up about beer sales, then dashed them just as quick. A quick joke and had them under the thumb 😉 Resistance to my charm is futile.
I walked, walked, walked some more and inbetween all of that above. I have no idea how many mountains I’ve climbed, but definitely more than you’ve had meals in the past 10 days.
Caught a cold, walked, walked, walked and walked some more.
Cold morning on a mountain somewhere in northern Georgia.
I’ve camped out each night away from the shelters, I haven’t stayed at a shelter yet. They’re fun and all, but there’s a ton of folk at each, quite noisy and not my thing for now. I’ll be using them more up the trail once numbers dwindle. I’ve met plenty of good people, from all walks of life. All with one thing in common. The love for beer…err… or that other thing I should be doing right now.
Moon rising in Lance Creek
Well, I’m going to call it a day on this blog entry. I’ve been here for way too long when there are ales in the fridge. This has been the Reader’s Digest version of my trail so far.
I’ve missed so much out here, the nature, the physical aspect, the mental aspect, all you can eat restaurants, bear bagging, first night alone on the trail, trail angels, trail names, surprise beers, trail cookery experiments, and so on. I’ll get to those in later posts.
Slow and steady. I’m 3% of my way through the trail.