Springer Mountain (0.0) to Hawk Mountain Campsite (7.4)
There’s a certain feeling that I get when I’m about to be a part of something epic. I’ve felt this feeling many times in my last three years of adventures. The Appalachian Trail would be the last of the big trails for me to hike to complete the triple crown of hiking.
I was slightly nervous. I found it hard to sit still in the morning, I just wanted all this nervous energy to be put to good use on the trail. I packed my gear twice, checking and double checking everything. And still I almost forgot my toothbrush and toothpaste. I’m normally not like this.
Crunchmaster and his Father Tom, aka Happy (hiking the trails is his Happy place), were not only kind enough to pick me up from the airport and give me a place to stay and store my gear while I was hiking but they also dropped me off at the trailhead. Thank you. And thank you to Trina for also looking after me with nice Mexican/Venezuelan/Columbian food. And also a big thank you to Crunchmaster’s mother who baked me cookies.
It was 4pm when I arrived at the start of the Appalachian Trail. Springer Mountain is the southern terminus of the 2190 mile trail. It was overcast with rain threatening but warm. Crunchmaster and Happy were there with me enjoying a rare moment of solitude, nobody else was at the start of the trail.
Between 20-60 people start hiking the trail each day at this time of year according to the number of hikers registered in the trail logbook. At 4pm I would probably be the last person starting their hike today. It’s time to start hiking,
Crunchmaster, Happy and I walked the 1 mile back down to the car. Crunchmaster and I hiked the next 3 miles or so on the trail while Happy drive the car round to another state park road to meet us. At least we got a couple of miles hiking together.
A short rain shower hit us as we hiked. The first leaf buds of the trees are sprouting and there wasn’t enough cover to absorb all the rain. I rigged my new lightweight umbrella to my pack so I could hike hands free. Crunchmaster got wet. The hands free umbrella set up was ok but my view hiking uphills was obstructed, it’s a work in progress.
The rain shower was short so we weren’t inconvenienced for too long. I was surprised by the condition of the trail. It was the hiking equivalent of a superhighway, well graded, maintained, clean and best of all lots of streams to fill up water bottles. No heavy water carries on day 1 of the AT unlike the PCT or CDT.
It was around 6pm when I said goodbye to Crunchmaster and Happy. They drove home to Chattanooga. Once again thank you.
I hiked a couple more hours into the late afternoon to my campsite. The sun was filtering light through the sparse forest canopy. And the humidity from the rain made sweat start to flow down my face on a gentle uphill climb. I met my first Appalachian Trail (AT) hiker, Bob, an older gentleman from Ohio. I stopped to say G’day and hiked on to the nearby campsite.
The campsite seemed abandoned. I set up my tent alone. Where are all the people? I thought I was hiking in the busiest time of the year. I guess I’ll see them tomorrow, maybe.
With camp set up I ate and settled into bed. My body felt fine, no aches (yet) and no blisters (yet). I sorted my photos and wrote this blog post while the nearby owls called out to each other. I think I’m going to like the Appalachian Trail.