Day 1: First Steps on the Appalachian Trail
Day 1: Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center (Mile -8.8) to Long Creek (Mile 4.7); 13.5 miles
Periodically on the Pacific Crest Trail we crossed paths with an energetic guy named Young Geezer. It turns out that Young Geezer and his wife Patricia live in Atlanta near the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus. They offered to be our first AT trail angels. They were awesome. Yesterday they picked us up at the train station, shared a big dinner with us, and let us stay in their spare bedroom. Today they not only drove us to the Appalachian Approach Trail, but hiked the first few miles with us.
We signed in at the Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center as AT thru hikers #351 and 352 for 2013. Then we set out on the 8.8 mile approach trail to the official beginning of the Appalachian Trail.
We soon passed Amicalola Falls, towering and gorgeous. The 604 steps to reach the top of the falls were a reminder that thru hiking is breathtaking in both senses of the word. Our hearts were pounding by the top, but we were thrilled to be out hiking again.
The wind was fierce and at times quite chilly. Spring had not yet arrived in Georgia’s mountains. The trees were bare which allowed long views of rolling hills fading to blue in the distance.
In the afternoon we reached Springer Mountain, the official start of the Appalachian Trail. This photo shows our first white blaze with a plaque describing the trail as “A footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness.”
We continued to follow the AT’s white rectangular blazes past numerous creeks and over forested hillsides. Winter’s chill was visible in the form of icicles clinging to rocks.
In the evening we set up camp, met a few other thru hikers, journaled, and reflected on our first day on the AT. It felt good to be back outdoors, relaxed and aware, especially after so much intense work on the book over the last five months. Our legs felt strong and our muscles eager to walk. The creek’s gentle flow and the rhythmic croaks of frogs urged us to sleep.
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