Tuesday March 12th, 22.6mi (8.2mi approach trail+ 14.4 AT)
Amicalola Falls Visitor center to Justus creek campsite (14.4)
I woke up at 7:15am, and it was still dark. This is a strange part of the Eastern time zone. I packed up quietly, and headed over to the ranger office to check-in for the hike. They opened at 8am, and there were 5 or 6 other hikers waiting as well. The Georgia chapter of the ATC does a great job, part of the check-in process is a presentation on LNT (leave no trace), and safety in the backcountry. Then, each hiker gets a photo, and a number. I’m hiker #838 this year! And since Bob and I are both hams, my photo is… different.
Hikers also get their pack weighed, mine is 34lbs. Too much food and candy!
After the check-in, time to walk! The approach trail is 8miles long, and starts with the iconic arch.
It is a cold morning, but nice weather. Good thing it starts out with hundreds of stairs to get warmed up!
I see a few other hikers along the way, including this guy from Maine, he is hiking home!
I get to Springer mountain, the official start of the AT, at noon and have lunch. There are 6 other hikers there too.
The first (of many) white blazes!
Then, I head down the mountain, and after a mile the trail crosses a USFS road, which is a popular trailhead. There are more Georgia ATC volunteers there too. They have heaps of good advice for water, camping, and of course more LNT.
I hike on, and it’s a warm day now, and on a nice trail. I don’t even have to get my feet wet at stream crossings! This is so different from the Te Araroa…
I stop at Long creek falls and have a snack. There is a family there, and the little boy keeps asking where my hiking poles are (I don’t use them). He even offers to make me one. 🙂
I continue on a few more hours, passing probably a dozen more hikers. Most people starting out do 8-10 miles per day, so I probably won’t see them again.
I get to Justus creek at 6pm, and call it a day. There are 7 other hikers camped here, mostly on the lower terrace. We have dinner and hang our food bags. It’s such a change camping in bear territory!