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Tamijo - Appalachian Trail Journal - 2010

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Tami "" Vanderwilt
City: Austin
State: Texas
Country: USA
Begins: Mar 23, 2010
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Apr 1st, 2011
Start: AT Approach Trail, Amicalola Falls, GA
End: AT Trail
Daily Distance: 8.8
Trip Distance: 8.8

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 122
Journal Visits: 3,286
Guestbook Views: 109
Guestbook Entrys: 1

Gear list Training

Appalachian Trail Map

Blast Off!!!

It’s 12:43 pm and Pat and I are still about an hour away from Amicalola Falls SP. We enjoyed a leisurely morning of sleeping in, enjoying one another’s company, and eating a nice big breakfast at IHOP. Ah, chairs…cushioned seats…indoor plumbing…climate control. Yes, I do believe that Tessa and I are in for a bit of culture shock for a little while.

I will not be doing the approach trail, as I’d originally planned. I had intended to do it until Pat decided to accompany me to the southern terminus of the trail, but he has neither the time, inclination, or (at least for the time being), ability to hike the approach trail, which I understand is a rather challenging trail. It’s steep, and he has a hurt knee right now. Besides, it’s nearly 9 miles long. If he were to hike it with me, he’d have to turn around and hike that same challenging trail back down before nightfall on a bum knee, and that’s just not going to happen. So we’ll drive up closer to the trail’s terminus, to an access spot just a couple of easy miles away. We’ll do that together, then say goodbye atop Springer Mountain. I have a lump in my throat thinking about it.

I don’t expect to put in many miles today. I hope to do maybe eight, but we’ll see. My pack is so dreadfully heavy, but I just don’t know where to trim the fat just yet. I’ll see what I don’t use after a week’s time, and it’ll be mailed home. In the meantime, I’m going to look like a total trail doofus until I learn to don and doff my cumbersome pack gracefully and navigate uneven terrain with a whole new center of balance. I guess I’ll provide comedic relief to the more experienced hikers. Maybe they’ll take pity on me and offer to carry my stuff…ya think?

Pat is driving while I make this final bog entry for a few days. The Georgia countryside is just breathtaking, and I can’t wait to hit the trail! The redbud and dogwood trees are in full bloom, the sky is a beautiful clear blue, the temperature is mild, and I am psyched. I’m not sure how I’ll feel tomorrow, but today is a fabulous day to take a walk in the woods.

Did you miss me??? I’ve been a little busy these past few days. Perhaps you’d like to hear about it. Here are my thoughts and observations from the past 5 days:

April 1st, 2011:
START: Amicalola Falls SP Visitor’s Center
FINISH: Stover Creek
STEPS; 27,229
MILES: 8.8 miles of approach trail + 2.8 miles of Appalachian Trail=11.6

As it turns out, Pat and I found a compromise that enabled both of us to do what was best for ourselves. Together we drove to Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor’s Center, and we began the approach trail to Springer Mountain, 8.8 miles away and the “official” start of the Appalachian Trail. The approach trail begins with a trek up to the top of Amicalola Falls on a rather steep boardwalk-type trail. The views are really nice, the falls (Georgia’s tallest) is gorgeous, and it was a great experience to share with Pat. This portion of the trail lasts about a mile and a half or so. That was the point at which Pat and I each went our separate ways for the afternoon: he driving further on to the top of Springer Mountain to wait for me, and me hiking the rest of the approach trail. We met at the top of Springer at---I don’t know, six-something? ---and took the obligatory pictures next to the plaque at the start of the trail. Pat walked with me for a bit as we shared our final well-wishes to one another for the coming months, then we went our separate ways.

Pat is so sweet. It was hard to walk away, and I did so with such mixed emotions, but always with the knowledge that he is on my side.

I left Pat and decided to hike to the first available campsite, as evening was fully under way by then and no time to make it to a designated camp/shelter site. I hiked to the very first water-crossing (Stover Creek, which was an incredibly scenic crossing, and Tessa’s and my first. She did it with no help!), then found an absolute utopia in a tucked away site immediately next to the creek. It was in a big forest of rhododendrons, which lent the campsite a decidedly rain-forest-like air: lush, slightly over-grown, exotic (to a Texan like me). I believe that, technically, the Chattahoochee forest, which is where I am now, IS a rainforest, based on annual precipitation. Anyway, though the rhododendron shrubs were amazing, they were not yet in flower, and I regret that I will miss that phase. I saw the tiny buds beginning to grow, and the promise of greater splendor to come is exciting.

I hiked a little too long, and wound up striking camp in the dark. My site was so secluded, and the weather so pleasant, that I didn’t worry. I was familiar enough with my gear that making camp on the first night in the dark was no big thing. The night was cool, and I would have done well to dig an extra layer of warmth out of my pack, but I didn’t want to crawl out of my bag. I was reasonably comfortable, but unfortunately didn’t sleep too well, even so. I think my brain is too wired with thoughts of what’s to come to allow me to sleep peacefully just yet.

I was too tired to eat so skipped dinner. I was a wee bit cold, but that was only because I didn’t want to crawl out of my sleeping bag long enough to put on the necessary next layer. I just curled up a bit and was, frankly, really quite comfortable, and enchanted with the start of my trip.

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Journal Photo

Onward And Upward!

Appalachian Trail NOBO in March 2011
Hiking companions: niece Anne (for a little while),and best canine buddy Tessa


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