Start: Springer Mountain
Finish: Hightower Gap
Miles: 8.6 Total Miles: 8.6
Mary drove me to the parking lot a mile below the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, to start off my thru hike. It was not an auspicious beginning. I shouldered my pack, said goodbye to my long suffering wife, and promptly started off in the wrong direction. A hiker having breakfast at the side of the parking lot silently pointed out the correct direction. I’m not saying this is conclusively a bad omen, but if the Romans had seen something like this, they’d have been sacrificing vestal virgins in job lots.
So before starting the AT, if one starts at the nearest trailhead to Springer Mountain, one has to hike backwards a mile to the summit, turnaround, and then hike pack to the parking lot, and continue northwards. Therefore, I actually hiked 9.6 miles, but alas only 8.6 miles count.
It was an overall decent day for hiking, temperatures in the 70’s, partly sunny, and a slight breeze. Everyone else on the trial was anxious to get places, probably Mount Katahdin. I suspect none of them quite made it that far as yet. The hiking was not too onerous, with a slight descent for the first half of the day followed by a massive Everest class ascent during the afternoon. Well, it felt like that, anyway.
Mary picked me up at Hightower Gap and whisked me away to a very nice bed and breakfast several miles away. While my fellow hikers were dining on freeze dried lasagna ramen, I had a couple of bottles of a nice crisp IPA, and sinfully rich shrimp and grits. Then a night in a much too comfortable bed. Hiking is hell.