Miles hiked: 9.0
Pack weight: 46 lbs
Starting body weight: 212.8 lbs
I’ll flat out admit, today pretty much sucked. It was great, but at the same time it sucked giant donkey balls. With all the warm weather, my pack is loaded with all my cold weather gear and I think I’m carrying too much food, so instead of being 34ish pounds, my pack is a walloping 46 pounds! Now, some of you might think that’s not a lot, but when you’re carrying it on your back for nine miles up and down mountains, believe me, it is a lot.
I started at the approach trail this morning a little after 9:15. It’s an 8.8 mile hike from the start of the approach trail until you hit the first white blaze that signals you’re on Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It took me about seven hours to get there and set up camp.
What in the blue blazes?!
The approach trail is marked by blue blazes on the trees, though they are pretty sporadic; luckily, the trail is so obvious to see, you could do the entire thing without them (at least when no snow is on the ground). The approach trail begins by walking a short distance into the woods, where you then start climbing up a series of 600 stairs to get to the top of Amicalola Falls. I was honestly happy about the stairs, even though they sucked to climb up. It was a great way to warm up and get my legs in the game. This section of trail covered about a mile. Sweet, only 7.8 more to go!
From the top of the falls, you follow the trail back into the woods and merely walk. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ups and downs to traverse and according to my feet and shoulders, they all suck.
I got a small jolt of energy when I walked past a sign that indicated I was just over 5 miles into the trail. This was a great pick-me-up, but it didn’t last long.
I stopped and got water a little further up the trail at Black Gap Shelter. One of the people that started with me this morning caught up to me there and decided to just call it a day. I was determined to reach Springer Mountain today, so I pushed on for another 1.5 miles that seemed to take forever and a year. I was so tired by this point, that I wished I just stayed back at the other shelter.
And then I saw it. The first white blaze of the actual factual, no shit Appalachian Trail. I had made it. I snapped a couple pics of the plaques that are there and moseyed on another short distance as fast as I could to reach the shelter and campsite area. It felt so damn good to drop my pack.
It took me a little while to actually set up camp and cook dinner. Every part of my body was just screaming “I hate you!”
- My shoes are entirely too small. Every downward slope, my toes were just slamming into the front of my shoes. If I don’t switch them out soon, I have no doubt I’ll lose a toenail very quickly. Unfortunately, it’s 21 miles to the next town and I don’t know what they’ll even have available.
- OMG, chafing, OMG.
- I need a belt.
- My BearVault has gotta go. With all the extra weight of the cold weather gear, the extra 2.5 pounds the BearVault weighs is not worth it. It, along a few other things, will be gone once I hit a town.
- Eating pizza and cheeseburgers while sitting around for the past six months was apparently not sufficient “conditioning”. Who knew?!