Saturday, March 9, 2013

Three Days In

Day 1: 9.1 miles. Approach trail to Springer Mountain, Springer Mountain to Black Hawk Shelter, GA.
Day 2: 12.9 miles. Black Hawk Shelter to Woody Gap, GA.
Day 3: 10.7 miles. Woody Gap to Neel's Gap, GA.

We have trail names now, too!

Nick: Apollo
Mike: Dumptruck
Kit: Clever Girl

I was bestowed the name by Apollo, who noted that when I rest my arms on my pack's hipbelt, my arms look tiny and my hands dangle in front of me like a velociraptor. In every log book in the shelters I've been drawing a velociraptor holding different items (clif bar, pizza, wearing a party hat, etc.)

Apollo and I named Dumptruck a few weeks ago, when we were sitting around talking about the worst possible trail names. Mike happened to be in the bathroom at the time.

"What about Dumptruck?" posited Nick.

"Please, please, please can we call Mike that?" I begged.

And we did. I call him Trucky for short. Or Dumpy, if I'm feeling fancy.

I named Nick Apollo for the moon landings among other reasons. Mostly it's because he tends to always be able to land a beautiful one-liners- like the moon landings! I am collecting a series of his words, that I'll post at some point. I think I'm going to call it Apollo Speaks.

On the first day, we got up at 4:30am and got on the road. John took us to Waffle House for our last real-person food for a while. Then we made our way up to Forest Service Road 42, got out, and hiked 1 mile up to the top of Springer Mountain, the official start of the trail. There was snow and ice everywhere, making the mountain look like Princess Frosty's kingdom in Candy Land.

On the second day, we had filled up some water from a stream, and added some Aqua Mira drops to clean the water of any bacteria. A few minutes later, I filled my mouth with the water.

"Girl, that takes 15 minutes to filter."

I did a classic spit-take, with water flying every which-way like my head was a sprinkler and the trees were gleeful children playing in the summer.

I haven't had any terrible digestive problems since then, so I'm probably in the clear.

Famous last words.

Yesterday we almost stopped about 3 times, mostly because my lungs are not used to hiking up mountains with 35lbs on my back. There's 5 years of New York City grime that I have to work out of my system. I've been leading our little party, setting our pace, though Dumptruck and Apollo have the map. I am so glad that we didn't stop, because when we were about .7 miles from Woody Gap, a pair of delightful locals (Birdie and Bongo) told us we were almost there, and that it would be worth it.

When we crested the hill and broke out onto Woody's Gap, there was a whole bunch of what's called Trail Magic (usually a surpise of food). A previous thru-hiker, named Fresh Grounds, had set up pizza, hot chocolate, coffee and other treats. He tented there, and had grits and oranges for us in the morning. I nearly cried when I saw him, and I gave him a giant hug.

Today we went up and over Blood Mountain (which has a side trail that includes the word "Slaughter"), so it was a bit daunting. It was our biggest vertical climb yet, and it felt great.

Tonight we're staying in a hostel at Neel's Gap, because it's attached to a little outfitters that is literally (not figuratively) on the trail. The trail runs directly under the overhang between the hostel and the store. It feels like I'm at summer camp. There's about 20 people staying in this old wooden cabin, on 10 bunk beds in one room. Most of the folks are people we've been leap-frogging over the past 3 days, and who we've been getting to know in little bits at a time. There's also a hang-out room in the hostel, where there is an old-school TV and a marvelous collection of VHS tapes. A pair of brown tabbycats are chasing a mouse around, and they've knocked a game of Risk down onto the wooden floorboards in their excitement.

Mostly I've been feeling exhilarated and happy. I know my body hurts, and we're just at the beginning, but I'm over the moon.

Like a snail, I carry my home with me.

Some photos by Dumptruck!


  1. I've been refreshing your page nigh hourly though honestly not expecting an update for days - this is awesome!! Such a beautiful beginning :D

    We are looking at dates/trailheads for meeting you in the Presidentials in several months. You'll have that email soon.

    My love goes with you always!

  2. It is such a nice surprise to see an update from you so soon. Fantastic! Beautiful pictures. Your trail names are great! We love them. Our thoughts and love go with you. Love you guys! Mom & Dad

  3. Hooray! We can only echo Nelle's words...we too have been checking reguarly and figuring we'd see something on April 1st! So glad for your strong beginning. What fun to start in that's enough of that! We love and miss you! Mom and Dad

  4. Hooray! I have spent many a night atop blood mountain during the summer camp portion of my youth. I always thought it was a slightly terrifying name for a mountain in the beginning of the AT.

  5. Oh but I love your trail name so!! Sending much love and thinking of you all! xoxo.