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The First Hundred Miles (Part 1)

Excited about the day and my journey. I was fully rested and was fully resupplied. I started hiking up and over Rocky Mountain. Up and down the whole day went. I finished up my 17m/27km hike around 15:00 when I got to Dick’s Creek Gap. I came out to the road a few minutes after this other hiker from Czech got to the road. He said there was a hostel down the road about 1m/1.6km. I was tired and didn’t feel like hiking up hill anymore so I followed him to the hostel. I wasn’t sure what a hostel in the US much less on the Appalachian trail looked like. I’ve only seen a few hostels when I traveled overseas to Germany and France. So, part of me went cause I was tired and the other part was curious. When I got there a few ladies were inside. I was told to leave my backpack, trekking poles and shoes on the porch. When I came back inside one of the ladies when over the cost and rules around there. Most of the rules at these hostels are pretty much the same. No loud noise by 22:00. Breakfast is at this time, if they serve breakfast. Washing your clothes costs this much. Some hostels had a little resupply shop. This one I stayed at did. Seeing I already resupplied I didn’t need to even look at what they had.

I paid them the money to stay and I went to the building where I’ll be staying. When I entered there were several hikers sitting at the table eating and talking about their trip so far. Some of them knew me and we exchanged greetings. The first room to the right I took. It had three bunk beds. I took the top one in the back. They even had hooks where you could hang your backpack. I started getting a few things out and ready. I pulled out my sleeping bag and got my toiletries situated for night time. I walked back in the kitchen with my food bag where the other hikers were talking. I pulled out a few things. Realizing I had mostly junk food and nothing really substantial I started to pay attention to what other people were eating and getting when they resupplied. As I took a few mental notes I started boiling water and I started cooking a few things in my food bag. I had some chocolate peanut butter flapjacks and some brown sugar oatmeal. The flapjack’s were in a cup and you just had to add warm water. After I did that it looked pretty watery so I added some brown sugar oatmeal. What a game changer that was! It was amazing and it didn’t last for very long. After I inhaled that I was hungry for more but just snacked on a few Kind bars before I stopped. As the sun started to set I was getting tired. So I crawled in my sleeping bag and passed out.

The next morning I woke around five. It seemed everybody was still sleeping. I wanted to take a shower so I could start the day off fresh. I grabbed my contacts and the towel the hostel gave me. As I was showering I was thinking that other people would start waking up. By the time I got out of the shower it was still the same. Nothing but farting and snoring from other hikers. I crawled back in bed and started looking back at some of the pictures I took. The sun came up and slowly did the hikers. By eight I was starting to get hungry. I wanted to see what kind of cereal we had to choose from and get some coffee. I walked in and grabbed my breakfast. I sat down and started talking with the ladies that ran the hostel. Some other hikers walked in and grabbed some food. We were seeing what everybody was planning for that day. Some hikers had to stay due to injuries. I was planning on heading out that morning. My hike started later than I wanted it to but I also was wanting a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning. I was getting closer to crossing the boarder to North Carolina and getting my first 100m/160km.

To Hiawassee

The next morning I woke up and hit the alarm. I wasn’t ready to hike in the rain. Perhaps it’ll stop in an hour. An hour later the buzzing begins. I hit the alarm again and stretch. I get out of bed and get my socks and pants on. I can’t wait to have a big breakfast before my hike starts. I get in the kitchen and start cooking the bacon. About eight strips total. Later I use the bacon grease for cooking the eggs. I’m sure I’ll have this all burned off me within a day or two. As the food is cooking I’m slowly getting other things packed up and ready to go. Fifteen minutes later breakfast is served. As I eat I hear the rain outside. It’s a light rain. I didn’t mind hiking in that. I finish my food and wash the dishes. I clean up as much as possible. Packed the last bit of stuff. Got my rain jacket on and headed out the door. I went up to the main office to see the weather for the day and the next few days. Looks like I have a big rain storm coming in fast. I check my book to see how far I’m planning on hiking. Rain is going to be coming in around 11 that morning. I need to get to Low Gap shelter before then. One thing I have noticed while hiking the AT is that once I get in my head how far I’m going to go, that’s all I think about. Getting there as quickly as possible. I left the porch with the WiFi and I hit the trail. With my headlamp on and my rain jacket over top half of my body I started out into the rainy darkness.

Watching each step cause I didn’t want to slip. It takes me a second to figure out where the trail goes next but once I do it doesn’t take long to get back in the swing of things. The rain comes and goes as does the fog. My mind starts playing with me as my paranoia starts to kick in. As I’m hiking I’m thinking that there is some big animal out there just stalking me. Waiting for the best time to jump out and kill me. When in reality, there is nothing out there I really need to worry.

I come to a road that I need to cross. This road looks like your typical road in the mountains. Parking lot across the street with a sign of different paths along the way. I see a hiker in the fog waiting for a car to hitch a ride. I chat with him for a few minutes. Found out he hiked the AT before and now he just does sections. He tells me it’s not much further to the next shelter, Low Gap. The shelter I’m hurrying to get to. I check the time. It’s 10 o’clock and I have to get there quick. I try to get a good pace going but it’s hard to when the terrain keeps changing from up to down hill. Before I knew it it started raining. The first big rain storm of my hike. It’s fun but horrible at the same time. As the rain comes down so does the temperature. I try and keep a decent pace regardless of how hard the rain comes down. By 12:30 I’m drenched. I quickly get in the shelter and start finding warmer things to put on. One of the things I put on is Columbia’s Omni heat thermals . The way this works is it reflects your body heat back on you. I put on my other set of clothes. Not long after I do this then four other hikers come up seeking shelter from the rain. They do the same thing shedding the wet clothes for some dry ones and start getting ready for the night. About an hour later of talking about their hiking experience a few more hikers pile in. Then a few more and then a few more. Before I knew it we had over ten tents set up and a full shelter. The hikers than came in shortly after I did, put up a tarp at the main opening of the shelter. Since it was windy and we had wet cloths we didn’t want to freeze during the night and hoped our clothes would dry off. I knew at that moment there wasn’t going to be any time

I couldn’t dry my clothes with the cold weather we’ve been having. I looked in my AT thru hiker book and saw there was a shuttle that would take you in town, Hiawassee.

The next morning most of the people in the shelter started packing their stuff. I woke up from hearing all the commotion. Since I didn’t get much sleep that night. I decided to do the same thing. It was a lot colder than my sleeping bag was rated (40f/4.4C) plus I had my new sleeping liner in there, a Rumpl blanket and my thermals on which helped the lower part of my body. The top half kept getting cold. No need to lay here freezing. Might as well get back to hiking. At least that way I can get my blood flowing again and warm up that way. With a few wet bags of clothes and my wet backpack I started hiking to Low Gap. I knew I could make it there by noon. A town was near by so I could resupply, dry my cloths, backpack and take a shower. At this point they all sounded amazing. After about an hour of hiking the sun started to rise up in the distance. The sky had a few clouds which helped reflect the light hitting it. I wish I had an awesome view where trees weren’t blocking the sun so I could get a few pictures. It was tremendous with all the colors of orange, dark blue, light blue, red and to top it all off I saw some pretty huge lakes in the distances from where I was walking. I didn’t even know they were there. I must have gone 2-3 miles/4.83 km and started feeling a lot better. I’m not sure if it was what I was looking forward to in a few hours, the sunrise or that I was finally warming up then again it perhaps it was all three.

I started going down hill quite a ways before I realized that I was near the road to go into town. As I kept ascending down I noticed a old van with a guy in it just sitting there. I start to think that this is either the shuttle or someone waiting for a church group. As I crossed the street the large man came out of the van. I asked him if I could get a ride in town. The other hikers I was with decided to keep moving forward. I’d figured I would catch up with them tomorrow. For now a nice shower and food was calling my name. So I dropped my bag off in the back of the van and sat in the front. I was off to Hiawassee.

On to the next few days

**forgot to mention. While in Stover Creek one hiker mentioned that there was a big rain storm coming and it would be best to get to the first town. Heavy rains and semi high winds I was told.

About an hour after the first guy left and a group of three people left I headed out on my first fifteen mile hike. One reason I left early is cause when I got to Stover Creek shelter it was starting to get dark. So, I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight to get there plus I was lower on food than expected since I ate some the first night. I did rather well for a while. Got some good time on flat spots until I got to Blood Mountain.

Blood Mountain the first hard mountain to conquer on the Appalachian trail. I’m not sure if going up was harder than going down. Some of the angles going up we’re about 60-70° with stairs that some were as high as 1ft/30cm. Going down was a little different. Some spots the angle was the same

however the drops were much more. Some were from 1ft/30cm to 2ft/61cm.

After getting over this monstrosity and I saw the first shop we came to I was excited. More or less because I could take my backpack off and give my shoulders and back a nice break. I heard there were some mountain rentals available and filling fast so someone let me use their phone so I could call and reserve before I lost out. Once I got the reservation, I decided to go down there so I could drop my things and rest.

When I walked up to where the office was at I noticed it was the basement of this mountain house and it looked a lot like an old country store. A lot like the country stores in the mountains of North Carolina. The people who ran the place lived above the office.

I told the lady at the counter that I was there for two nights. Since that storm was coming I didn’t mind taking a zero day (zero day meaning no hiking) after all I was so sore from Blood Mountain. Got the keys, some pizza they made there and some eggs and bacon for breakfast the following day. Walking back to the cabin I was hurting. However I was excited. I had a whole pizza and cabin. The pain didn’t feel like it was there.

The cabins were small. When you walked in the stairs were close to the front door and to the left was a bedroom. A very small bedroom with barely enough room for a queen sized bed, night stand and dresser. In fact looking at it from the family room they just added the wall and roof to make the room. The upstairs had the same stuff but looked like it had a bit more room. The rest of the house had plenty of room to move around. It looks like a nice little get-away house.

I put the pizza down, took my shoes off and sat on the couch. I started devouring it. Two slices down and my body is still highly stressed out from the backpack so I decide to take a shower. There is something about taking a shower and afterwards feeling like a million dollars. Boy oh boy did I feel like a million dollars. I went and ate three more slices. I started to feel full and also realized I didn’t have anything to eat for my zero day other than breakfast so I saved the rest.

The story of my thru hike

Last weekend I started my journey across the Appalachian Trail. First day I arrived later than I wanted. I got my pack weighted (35lbs/15.87kg). People seemed impressed how light my pack was. I was given a few rules and regulations which I knew them already but I let him say it anyways. We got a few pics and I started my ascent toward the Amicalola Falls. It was a lot of steps to climb up and I kept getting tired cause of all the weight on my back. I finally made it to the top and a lady asked me if I was thru hiking the AT. I told her I was and she wished me luck with her friend. She asked me to rub her necklace (I’m guessing for good luck) which was a small hat. She told me it was* necklace. So I rubbed it and said thank you and continued my journey. It started getting dark fast. As I struggled to get to Springer Mountain quickly. I wasn’t able to make it and found some people setting up for the night. I asked if I could stay with them and they didn’t mind. So I started to set up my tent and get things ready for the night. I still was not sure what I’m getting myself into but I was taking it all in. Made some dinner and talked with them about random things. They were in the woods hoping that the lord would talk to one of them. I’m guessing he had some issues he wasn’t sure what to do about the situation.

*I’m thinking it was some famous hiker

The next morning it was raining. I knew it was going to rain and started to figure out what I needed to do to get my day started. Once I got down where I was planning to go for the day I started getting ready. Got everything packed in my backpack and came out of the tent to get it all packed. It wasn’t bad the first night with everything despite it raining. I left early in the morning around 7:00ish. The hike to Springer was way more intense that I thought it was going to be. The more I struggled and made my assent the more I didn’t feel like

I was making much ground and then finally I made it. I put my backpack down and grabbed my camera and took a few pics. I had finally made it to the top of Springer Mountain and the journey began. As I was putting my camera away another hiker came up. She took a

few pics and we chatted a little bit then she left. The rain was light but was off and on. I looked at the clock and my thru-hikers’ guide and figured I could make it to Stover shelter. I had a few hours of sunlight so I figured why not. When I arrived the sun was just setting. I was greeting but a few more thur hikers. Got some names (I’m horrible with remembering names) and got my stuff set up in the shelter. The shelter was pretty nice. Water was a little bit of a walk but the privy(bathroom) wasn’t far. This shelter was a double decker.

Meaning hikers could sleep on top and bottom. I’m not sure how many this one could hold but we had about ten people in there. There was also a few empty flat spots so people could set their tents up if the shelter was full. That night I didn’t sleep well. A rain storm was coming in people started getting ready for bed. I quickly got something to eat and I went to bed. I laid there a while trying to sleep but my shoulders and back were sore from all the hiking and high steps I had to take cause of the size of some of the rocks. I then remembered my meditative breathing and started doing that and then passed out.

I woke up off and on during the night because of the rain storm and also trying to get use to my sleeping gear. It’s nothing like a bed.

Early the next morning I was up at my normal time and tried to go back to sleep. I woke up again only an hour later noticing a fellow hiker packing his stuff up to get his day ready. I laid there a while and though why not. So I got up and started packing my stuff up. It was going to be my first full day on the AT and I was fully charged. My back and shoulders were not hurting nearly as bad as I thought they were going to. Planned out where I would head to next. Originally, I had planned to hike 15 miles/24 km a day but they first day kinda messed that up so since I was fresh I might as well try that first long stretch. I pulled out my trusty hikers’ companion and calculated where that would put me which was at Gooch mountain shelter.

That’s all I have for now. Going to tend to some things but plan on posting more later today.