Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hiking the Appalachian Trail - AWESOME!!

Today we went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. AWESOME!! The approach to the AT begins at Amicalola Falls State Park GA with the elevation of 1700 ft and ends 2181 miles later in Millinocket ME elevation 5268. “Thru” hikers usually begin in mid March in GA and plan on hiking about 6 months. There are also “section” hikers… hikers that hike a section at a time finishing after several years. We heard of one hiker finishing after 36 years. We did a little over a mile of the AT going from Woody Gap (mile 20.3) ele 3257 hiking up to Big Cedar Mountain (mile 21.5) ele 3737. We didn’t go prepared for much of a hike at all, but we did have a camera. We talked with lots of hikers (probably a dozen of the 20 - 30 that we saw) most of them having started about the 14th of March. Hikers come in all shapes, all sizes and all ages. The average hiker traveling through was in their mid 20’s and were taking a break from college to find themselves. Greg, was 50 on March 14th and this was his birthday gift to himself. Another gentleman in his 70’s maybe, had been doing it for years and was hiking for about a week. He and his wife plan on finishing up the last section next years doing the last section in ME. Most hikers were eager to talk and they all had a story. We had a blast!

Big Cedar Mountain

After hiking and talking with hikers back at Woody Gap we got back in our car and drove to Neels Gap (mile 30.6 on the trail) where there is a trading post of sorts and a place for hikers to replenish supplies or clean out stuff and lighten their loads. Greg, that we mentioned before, had a pack of 75 pounds!! A girl nicknamed ‘One of the Cajuns’ was traveling with 2 guys. They were from Louisiana, go figure, and her pack was about 40 pounds. She couldn’t have weighed more than 120. The guys she was traveling with were each carrying between 50 and 60 pounds. One even had a guitar (he wasn’t leaving it anywhere) and the other guy had a tambourine. I got the feeling that a lot of the hikers were throw backs to the 1960’s.

Neels Gap is the only spot on the trail that it goes through a covered portion of a building. There is also a tree out front that has a lot of worn out boots thrown up into it. Can you see the boots on the right? The soles are literally falling off of them!

We had a great day and would love to do more of the trail … it would be nice to be better prepared and maybe even train a little for it lol. Walking sticks (like ski poles) are an absolute must! Everyone had them and the old guy said it really saves the knees. With my balance (or lack thereof) I could really have used them. Lots more trails in the area… wonder where we’ll go tomorrow?


Tammy said...

What a neat area. I love meeting people and hearing their story's. I can wait to hear more.

Becki said...

Wow!! Can't wait to see the rest of your pictures! Sounds like a great adventure and meeting lots of interesting people :)