Diane and I had stayed the previous night at Dahlonega and this morning headed straight for Amicalola Falls State Park. We were both a little lost in our own thoughts and, after breakfast, headed over to the bottom of the Falls to register and weigh my pack. Diane had sent a bunch of dehydrated food to the hotel, so my backpack weighed in at a hefty 41lbs. However, I met several people today who were sporting what looked to be a junior refrigerator on their backs, so my 41lbs didn’t seem so bad.
We took a couple of pics and Diane drove me to the start of the approach trail. Saying goodbye was a little tearful on both sides, as the enormity seemed to hit us both at the same time. Eventually, I headed off and was on my way.
I have prepared well as far as possible, but nothing in Florida was able to prepare me for the first upward hike. I grimaced as I headed up and got to the top of that little section breathing heavily, but found that I recovered fairly well during the flatter section. Then, heading down, you are made aware that the only purpose of heading down is to head up once more in about five minutes.
Nonetheless, following several heart bursting climbs, after about three and a half to four hours, I got to the top. The last half mile was the worst, making me stop to recover every hundred or so yards. Then, there I was, after all that effort, at the start of the Appalachian Trail. The attached cheesey video is more reflective of my delight at being at the top than anything else. I would have hated to have been the guy who quit the Trail with minus miles.
My aim for that first day was get to the Springer Mountain shelter, only about .2 of a mile into the actual Trail, so, after the obligatory photos and the aforementioned video, I moved onto the Appalachian Trail itself for the first time.
Well, I intended to move onto the Trail, but walked straight into a low hanging branch and felt a huge crack, probably intensified by my newly shorn head. Luckily, no harm was done and, apart from the obvious embarrassment, I moved on.
There were plenty of rocks on the way down, so I spent most of the time looking at the ground, which wasn’t desperately helpful as I blew straight past the sign to my intended destination. After about a half mile I realized my error and had to retrace my steps back up the mountain. Smart, huh?
Anyway, I eventually got there and settled in for some food and my first night in the woods. I’ve drawn some water from a creek, filtered and drunk it to no obvious ill effects, so here’s hoping for a quiet night and another great day tomorrow.