Appalachian Trail Georgia Section Hike: Day 1

Sunday, June 8, 2014
11.3 miles to Plumorchard Gap Shelter

Woke up about 6:45 AM at the cabin. I slept on the top bunk and hit my head on the (moving) ceiling fan on my way down the ladder. Ouch! Any remaining cobwebs in my head were blown out by the cold shower I took after bumping the ceiling fan. No need for coffee, I was awake! We ran into town to get a biscuit and coffee at Hardee’s.

We drove to Amicalola State Park and registered. I was section hiker #1380. We walked around the visitor center looking at AT maps and souvenirs, when, through the back glass doors, I saw the start of the Approach Trail and the iconic archway. I stepped out and walked towards the archway. It didn’t seem real. I had seen dozens of pictures of thru hikers standing under the archway. I didn’t take any pictures because this is my finish line. I will be back there in 8-10 days.

I did have two section hikers ask me to take their picture under the arch. They were headed up the Approach Trail.

My friend Gabe drove us into North Carolina and then down the winding gravel road to Deep Gap. I got my picture taken by the first white blaze I saw and then we got a group picture…then we were off to hike the Appalachian Trail!

We headed south on the AT and passes about a dozen or so hikers going northbound. The first guy we passed looked like a real hiker. He had a full beard and REI gaiters. He just had the look of a real hiker. We asked how he was doing and he answered with a smile, “Living the dream!” I smiled in return and thought yeah me too buddy, I am loving the dream. We ended up passing a dozen or so hiker who were heading North. I passed one guy and we both stopped and chatted for a moment. He was from “up North,” which turned out to be Tennessee. He asked me what brought me out to the trail and I said that I was hiking the Georgia section for my 40th birthday. As I walked away, it hit me, I was really doing this. I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I was nearly overcome with emotion.

We stopped for lunch at the Muskrat Creek Shelter. We talked to Donna a seasoned section hiker, about gear and life in the trail. We also talked to two guys who were recovering alcoholics hiking the trail to stay sober.

After lunch we headed out and soon made it to the North Carolina / Georgia border. We stopped and took pictures by the “NC/GA” sign and rested on some rocks. We hiked the final 4 miles to the Plumb Orchard Gap Shelter. The hiking had some nice heart-thumbing climbs, but nothing to difficult. We had our last climb up and over As Knob and I hiked ahead of John and Jeff. I made it to the shelter by about 6:15 PM.

We gathered water, I set up my hammock and tarp, and we talked to Paul, a carpenter from Wisconsin, who was staying at the shelter. We ate and talked about the day as the sun was going down. We hung our bear bags before dark and John was snoring in the cabin before Jeff and I got in bed. I made my way into the hammock by 10 PM. It is much cooler than I expected, probably in the low 60s or upper 50s. I did get a cell signal and was able to call Jenni and pray for Dylan as he was going to sleep. We talked for a half an hour. Now I am typing out this blog and getting ready to dream about tomorrow.