Day #1: Amicalola Falls —> Springer Mountain Shelter

Day #1: 3-09-2016

Amicalola Falls State Park—>Springer Mountain Shelter

9 miles

This is Ryan “The Wanderer” Brown signing in live from my tent on the Appalachian Trail.

This morning at 9am my Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike began. I woke at 6:30am in the Hiker Hostel to the alarm of a fellow hiker. He was kind enough to ask the night before about the alarm. I liked the idea. Coffee was served at 7am which I was not about to miss. I like coffee so much I’m carry almost a pound of the stuff. “Black gold” right?!

Breakfast was served at 7:30am to a room buzzing with nervous, excited energy. It would make for an interesting case study, the ways in which people handle their feelings. Some allow the energy to flow into the world through excited speech. Others turning the energy inward often in silent retreat. There are those who turn to substance. I turn to coffee and conversation.

At 8:30am we were asked to make a decision. “Put your hands up for Amicalola Falls.” Ten or so hands. “And a show of hands for Springer Mountain.”

The two options exist because of an approach trail to the trail itself. This option adds 8.8 miles to the total for the added benefit of a beautiful waterfall. I’m told it’s the largest one around. What’s another few miles of walking anyway. An extra day? A fellow thru-hiker put it best, “Last one to Katahdin wins!” As an added benefit, I hear it’s the most strenuous section in Georgia.

Feeling the burn! Not the Burnie Sanders kinda burn, but the 40# pack on a sweaty back walking hundreds of stairs kinda burn.”

The falls taught us what we’re made of. I learned that I’m a little careless sometimes. I chugged my two liters of water at the bottom of the falls. “Why carry nearly four extra pounds of something I’m walking right beside?!” So, smart little me walked the exhausting staircase to the top. Then, I forgot to fill the bottles! Luckily, the first water source wasn’t that far.

The shelter I am sleeping near tonight is the first shelter on the AT itself. It’s right past  the Summit of Springer Mountain and the official start of the hike. I arrived with energy in my legs. But, I know the toil this section put on my body. I’ll start slow and ease my body into hardened thru-hiker status. A conditioning that I witnessed.

A south-bounder finished his hike today. He began at the northern terminus of the AT, Mt, Katahdin, July 14th of last year. He hiked through the winter. Crazy right? He said he encountered waist-deep snow slowly milage to as few as six per day. Congratulations Rookie. Thank you for showing us it is, in fact, possible.

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That’s it for tonight. I’m tired! “The wanderer” signing off from Springer Mountain.

P.S. I hope the photo captions work. I’m updating this on my cellphone from camp.

P.P.S. It’s taken quite a few attempts but I think I’ve worked out the kinks. Hopefully this uploads. I really do need sleep! It’s now 11pm.

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