Day #2: Springer Mountain to Justice Creek Campsite

Day #2: 3-10-2016

Springer Mountain Shelter —> Justice Creek camping area

14.2 miles

Tonights episode will not be broadcast live as I have no cell reception in the creek valley. (Unbelievable! Sprint, step up your game!) I’ll post sometime in the morning when I walk into service. Had I camped where I, perhaps, should have in the Hawk Mountain Shelter six miles back, you could be reading this tonight. Instead? I pushed on at 4pm from that shelter with cell service to rush here to meet up with people I began the hike with. Moonboots, Canuck, and Shaggy are here as are a few others. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone. I’m a little tired.

The day began in the fog and all too early. In the quiet of the campground, dripping water from mist settling in the trees woke a group excited to begin. None slept well last night. Air mats crinkling in the quiet as campers toss and turn. Cramping from the strenuous hike up the falls and Springer Mountain set in. I woke and spent time stretching away the tension.

After morning coffee, I began hiking my first official day on the Appalachian Trail. I caught up to Canuck. Together we walked through tunnels of Rhododendrom and mountain laurel to the Stover creek shelter, 2.8 miles into the trail. Like Hobbits, we ate second breakfast, lightening our load more than fueling hunger that hasn’t fully set in. We are all carrying too much food.

Canuck is from Hellifax, Canada hence his trail name. He’ll stick with it he said until something better comes along. Trail names are an important part of the Appalachian Trail. There primary function is simplifying names. No-one remembers the name Bill, or Harrison, but names like “Lost” and “Moonboots” are easier to remember.

Trail names also serve a secondary purpose. They strip away labels that have followed many since childhood and expedite the transition into trail life. What’s in a name? The freedom to choose a new identity and change your life. Trail life eats those comfort zones like a South Bound thru-hiker trudging through waist deep snow.

Thru-hiker is our new label or the one we hope to earn. The subject is touchy and difficult for many to answer. “Are you a thru-hiker?” is dodged the same way Hillary Clinton dodges questions about her husbands affairs. Ok, maybe I’m wrong here. Thru-hikers are honest folk that are just afraid of the question.

No-one wants to say yes and then not complete the trail. Some are leaving themselves an out with a peer-group they are not sure they belong in. Most just aren’t confident yet and often rightly so. Thru-Hiking comes with a learning curve as steep as some of these mountains. So, when is one a thru-hiker? Only after completion?

Today was interesting in this regard. Attitudes are changing. My fellow hikers are beginning to believe in themselves as they realize this is possible. I ran into Lady Samantha (totally wrong. Lady Something. Sorry) on the side trail to Hawk Mountain shelter. She was beaming with joy and accomplishment. She stood tall appearing inches higher than I remember. She survived two days on the trail and finds her fears unfounded. She will go far. Much strength she has. Mhhmmm Hmmm! (Master Yoda?!)

Today was about learning. For many, they are learning the basics: pack adjustment, properly packing the backpack, setting up a tent, and using camp stoves. The more experienced are fine tuning systems. Some of us are learning how to blog from the middle of nowhere. An interesting challenge!

That’s all for tonight. I’m very tired. The last few miles past Hawk Moutnain Shelter are killer and I hiked ‘em as fast as possible to get here before dark. I wanted to meet up with my new friends. This life really is about the people.

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Shaggy pokes his head the tent joking around with Moonboots.
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Shaggy and Canada retrieve their food from the camps bear cables.
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Packing away camp in the foggy, morning air.
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Canada is from Hellifax, Canada.
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Canada reading the trail register. He may prefer Canuck, but I'll always remember him as Canada. Not hard to see why!
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We stopped at the Stover Creek Shelter, 2.8 miles into the trail, for coffee. I'm addicted what can I say.
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We hike rhrough tunnels of rhododendron. I can't wait to see the blossoms open!
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Finding time alone. I'm an introvert and need time to myself to recharge. I was worried coming into the trail. I was afraid of finding huge crowds,but it's not too bad. Still easy to find a moment to yourself.
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Section hikers who live near the trail. It's their backyard. Silly me forgot to ask their name. Their son hiked the trail a few years back.
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Always worth 150 steps for a waterfall! Thanks to the person who counted the steps and carved them into the sign.
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Stopping for lunch at a waterfall. The day hikers told me it's worth the stop. They were right!
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You see all sorts of things strapped on the outside of packs. This one isn't that bad compared to others. Good tip, if it doesn't fit in your pack, don't bring it. You'll save yourself postage at the first town.
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You find time alone walking just don't stop! Kidding. I'm really enjoying meeting so many fascinating people just as crazy as I am!
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This is the privy and we're about to go inside.
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A ramp leads into the door less building.
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A toilet and a bucket. For woodchips? I lived in a house with a composting toilet. We used sawdust.
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And, my first trail poop! Nora virus is prevalent out here. Wash your hands guys.
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This dirty, rusty rake is in the rafters above the toilet. I don't think I want to know what's it for.
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Ryan was taking his first rest day, called a zero out here. He hiked an entire day in the wrong direction summiting Springer Mountain twice with a heavy pack. He's gonna hitch into the next town and mail some things home.
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Ryan checking the solar panel/windmill his dad gave him before the hike. More punishment than present all that extra weight...
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Off Balance and Off Center are attempting a through hike. They are raising money for cancer along the way. Blisters for Cancer fb page for more info on these guys.
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Shelters and camping areas are located off trail. Look for blue blazes that mark these trails. The AT uses white blazes.
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I met Gramps in the Hawk mountain shelter. Gramps is writing stories about his 30 day section hike at trailjournals.com/gramps. He also writes stories about the at risk youth he works with.
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A tree with a business card stapled to it. The card is for a shuttle service. You see these at most every road crossing.
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Down and then up again??! I left Hawk mountain shelter late in the day to meet up with Moonboots, Shaggy, and Canada. I had to haul ass up and down these mountains to make it before dark. It was a difficult section and a tricky one. I've nicknamed tissue mountain Tricksy Bastard as I thought I was standing on it till I saw this view.
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Clim, a section hiker out for a week, pressing on to the camping area as well.
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Tents glowing in the evening breeze as hikers read and journal.
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5 thoughts on “Day #2: Springer Mountain to Justice Creek Campsite

  1. Good evening, My wife & I met you on the trail north of Woody gap this afternoon. I was the one carrying the Canon. We are locals, living life on a horse farm 7 miles from Woody Gap, and hike on the AT frequently. I was hiking yesterday at Springer Mountain, on the Benton Mackaye taking pictures. The day before we hiked to Cow Rock just south of Hogpen Gap. (You should get there in a couple of days). I really look forward to following your adventures. I hiked half the trail over thirty years ago and have never had the opportunity to finish. Now that I have retired from the real world, I could have the time, but I am thoroughly addicted to a good meal for dinner and a nice warm bed. God speed on your journey. regards, TCrowell

    • Thanks for sharing Tom! I very much enjoy my trail meals. I find them comforting. I sure do miss my bed sometimes though. It was a pleasure to meet you!

    • Thanks Terry. So do I. This will be tricky. I’m sitting in a hostel now trying to charge everything.

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