Day Zero: The Approach Trail and The First White Blaze

March 10th

Miles Hiked: 8.8 on the Approach trail plus 0.2 on the AT to Springer mountain shelter. = 9.0 miles

Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center to Springer mountain shelter.

This morning we broke down our very wet camp fairly quickly. It down-poured the entire night before and no one slept well. Emma and I had our tent set up in a puddle.

I checked in as a thru hiker around 9:30AM at the visitor center. I am officially hiker number 757. We sat through an orientation session about leave no trace and a bear hanging tutorial. After that we weighed our packs and took the obligatory pictures. My pack weighed 31 pounds with food and water but I will be carrying a pack with a lot of different stuff when I return on my own. Caroline’s pack was the heaviest at 40 pounds but everyone else was under 30 pounds. Before we set out I sent some post cards to family.

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The tag that will be attached to my pack. It identifies me as a thru hiker.
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I am the 757th hiker to begin a journey to Maine in 2019. Upwards of 3,000 people make this attempt every year.
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Getting my pack weighed. 31 pounds.
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The gang before we headed off down the approach trail.
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Dad drove us down to GA and camped with us every night except the last one on the trail. He parked at trailheads close to the campsites so he didn’t have to hike as far as we did. I was so happy he was out there with us and getting to see what this is all about.

The approach trail was the hardest backpacking I’ve even done so far. The elevation gain was significant. Some people skip the stairs at Amicalola falls but I really wanted to do them. We climbed around 600 stairs to the top of the water fall. After that the elevation gain wasn’t too bad until the final mile up to springer mountain.

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Emma and I standing at the top of the falls with the Georgia mountains in the background.

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Me at the bottom of the falls after the first few stairs. I quickly ended up stripping off all my layers.

The weather was beautiful and we stopped for snacks/lunch. At one point I saw a mouse scurrying under some leaves as we walked along. It took us about 5 hours to get to the top of springer mountain from the visitors center.

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Snack break.
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Seeing green grass line the trail for the first time in a long time was a blessing.

At the top of springer we met my dad who hiked in a mile from the springer mountain parking lot. We all signed the trail register and took pictures by the first white blaze of the Appalachian trail. It felt surreal to finally be beginning this hike.

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“A footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness.”

Next we hiked on 0.2 miles to springer mountain shelter. There was plenty of room left in the shelter but we wanted to dry out our tents so we set them up and camped in them. The shelter had a privy and bear box for our food. We talked to quite a few people who were there including a ridge runner who was making sure everyone was following LNT (leave no trace) principles. He kept track of how many hikers stay each night and there were 23 of us that night. We ate dinner and did the usual camp chores. Afterwards we hiked back to the first white blaze and watched the sun set from the view.

The weather was nice for sleeping at 40 degrees. Some time in the middle of the night I woke up panicking because I thought a mouse was in my sleeping bag. No one heard me except Caroline and Emma thankfully. I intended on writing this all before I fell asleep but I fell asleep incredibly quick. It was a good night.

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Carolines one person tent and Emma and I’s two person on top of Springer Mountain.

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