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Appalachian Trail: North Georgia

I stepped off the plane and was greeted by my childhood friend. He was gracious enough to host me for a few days as sort of a send off before beginning the Appalachian trail. I had a great time with the Georgia crew and participated in all sorts of manly activities…. Eating fat burgers at five guys/the vortex, drinking beer at taco Mac, sneaking into a sold out tesseract performance and a manicure?! Yeah, somehow his roommate convinced us that would be fun and I even ended up getting my eyebrows done. We finished packing our bags full of food and that brought us to the Approach Trail at Amicalola Falls.

Day 1: We got to the trail around 12, registered for our hike and did a long up to get to the first shelter. Unfortunately, the boots that did me well out west already gave me two blisters so the first day of new you without bad news. Also, the “reliable” water source at our chosen shelter wasn’t so reliable after all! We had to double back about a mile run to get some fresh water to cook with. I learned my lesson. Never turn down water.

Everyone’s food bags were full to burst and the weight made people give away snickers bars and mashed potatoes. We were swimming in food! Spent the evening around a fire with a good group of folks.

Day 2: we made it to the Appalachian trail! Start around 9:30 after oatmeal and pop tarts. Rip in shorts already but quick fix with safety pins and seam seal. Hiked straight to shelter with no real breaks so to speak. I think I’ve learned another lesson. Hike your own pace because your health is honestly more important than your social standing and conversation. Those blisters are still bothering me but dinner moved that to the back of your mind. Mashed potatoes, bacon salt pepper jalapeño cheese spread knorr bacon pasta Alfredo, and Jerky… DAMN . Over the fire tonight I christened my buddy Mark with the trail name GQ cuz of the shirtless pose he was striking all day.

Black Gap to Hawk Mountain
Listening to red tail ring hearts swift foot

Day 3: with all the talk of life changing thunder storms, I thought I’d stay inside a shelter for the day and let my blisters rest. Instead, I talked to a former thru hiker and figured out how to best care for them. Fortunately for me, the rain held off most of the day and the ups and downs were fairly easy. I also finally figured out that I am allowed to listen to music while walking! The act of listening to music sort of acts like a time machine. Start listening and before you know it you’ll end up where you were headed. Blisters feel good for now and hopefully they’re healing nicely. Also, had a close call with a stomach bug after some shitty broccoli cheddar knorr and water filtered from a river (not a spring) . Feeling OK for now and we’ll see how we fare in the morning. Will I do 10 or 15 miles… I guess we’ll find out. Parted ways with Ben as well. He’ll be doing a thru hike next year and after these first few days, it looks like hell be just fine.

Hawk Mountain to Gooch
Listening to Juggernaut by enter shikari and tesseract’s altered state album

Day 4: Got to Lance Creek today for an easy day and tomorrow I’ll make for Neels Gap. I pulled in a little late and got a spot right at the front of the campsite. Too bad the fun was all down the backend of the camp… It made for a long walk in the dark. A great fire ended the night with Texaco, Kevin, hustle and flow, Kevin and Ashley, tolin and Allen, woods girl and mud man. Almost had to puke again after having some more crappy broccoli and had a real rough time putting my bear bag up PCT style.

Gooch to Lance Creek
Listening to Dirty projectors swing lo Magellan album

Day 5: Short day but a tough one over blood mountain. It was cold all day but the push through was worth it with Neels Gap at the other end. Upon arriving, I was showered with trail magic in the form of McDonald’s, veggie lasagna, peach tea, beer from Baltimore jack and some badass advice for blisters that made them go away overnight. Good late convo with woods girl, tiger Jin, Sam, and easy does it. Pizza and gatorade was also enjoyed!

Day 6: It’s raining cats and dogs so I decided to take a zero day at the mountain crossing. Bought a slick pair of moab boots from Merrell and enjoyed the company of other hikers in a beautiful little cabin. We ate scrambled eggs and bacon, rearranged our packs and hung around and chatted as the rain continued to fall. When you’re at Mountain Crossing in eat a yak burger! and hung low to give my feet and sore throat a break from the elements. Hopefully tomorrow will be warmer and dry.

ZERO

Day 7: 8:30 start mixed with super cold conditions made the day a little tough. Along today’s hike, I passed a dead baby cub and it made me extraordinarily nervous…. For one, Where was the mom? It looked pretty fresh! Secondly, it made me also think about my own mortality. If a creature designed to survive here can die like that, I’m just a stones throw away from meeting my maker at any point in the day! Overall I pulled 19 miles or so from Neels to blue mountain shelter with these new shoes. Even with the big miles I had an early night. After a good hot meal and a quick call home to dad I hit the hay.

Neels Gap to Blue Mountain
Listening to All alone by Gorillaz

Day 8: Second long day in a row. I hiked from sun up to sun down so there’s not much of note to write home about. I pulled in late and caught up with wild turkey and crew. I and down a few quick meal and turned in to bed.

Blue Mountain to Deep Gap
Listening to the Boogie man song by mos def

Day 9: My nose has been congested due to the cold weather and because of that I’ve been prone to snoring. I’m not sure why, but even after I intentionally set camp ad far away from others as possible, people still came up toe to complain and male me aware of my snoring. I’d like to take a moment to speak to people who do this. Believe it or not, you will snore as well at some point and by snarkily pointing out my problem you are not helping this situation. I am aware of my problem and I’m taking measures to correct it. I am already embarrassed enough by it and your words do nothing to help me. Perhaps you have nasal decongestant on your pack instead that you’d be willing to share. Also, in nearly every video or prep article, someone mentions that there will be snoring. It will be inevitable and you should be prepared for any situation anyway. Ear plugs don’t cost much and kindness and compassion will get you further than being mean spirited… . Sorry for the rant.

I hiked about 3 miles out to dicks Creek and Bob aka sir packs a lot picked us up in a shuttle. Went to top of Georgia hostel and ate an AYCE meal at Daniels restaurant. Full resupply at the Ingles and a relaxing day overall to reorganize and re-energize. NORTH CAROLINA IS IN MY REACH!

NERO at Hiawassee

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