Sunday, January 29: Travelled to Amicalola State Park with my friends Bernie and Ruth Goldfine, and their three boys: Jake, Will, and Tyler. We began at the top of the falls (1:30 p.m.) and for my first 45 minutes hiking on the “approach trail” I had the pleasure of their company. The sun was shining, and though there was some wind gusts, overall we had a blast! After the Goldfine’s departure, I proceeded to complete the 7.5 miles to Springer Mountain the southern terminus of the AT ( by 5:30 p.m.). I managed to take a couple time delay photos before walking my first .2 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Just off the AT at .2 miles is a shelter and camping area. On the way to the shelter I was greeted by Jeff, a section hiker headed to Fontana Dam, NC. Dinner, and bed rest was a welcome experience… The sky that was crystal clear: the moon, less than half-full, cast distinct shadows; and, even the stars that create the sword of Orion were clearly visible.
Monday, January 30: With a thermometer reading of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, I was pleased to find my water did not freeze (protected by my pack). I packed-up and chatted briefly with Jeff while munching on some gorp. I departed for Hawk Mountain shelter at 10:00 a.m. I made steady progress, averaging approximately two miles per hour. Throughout the hike, the temperature rose to about 55 degrees. I arrived at Hawk Mountain shelter at 1:50 p.m (7.9 miles) and decided that I would remain there rather than going further, as the next shelter was 7.4 miles. I also felt that getting some more rest and an earlier start, the next day, would be a good idea. By 5:00 p.m. there were five others (including Jeff) at the site; all tenting except for me. I slept reasonably well and the temperature this night remained above freezing.
Tuesday, January 31: I was up at about 7:15 a.m.; and, packed-up and on my way north by 8:30 a.m. (I’d like to be on the trail by 8:00 this time of year). Taking regular breaks, I arrived at Gooch shelter (7.9 miles) at I:00 p.m. During the morning I saw two deer, but unfortunately the sun was behind them so taking a photo was not an option. At Gooch, I decided to eat a dinner meal and rest a bit; then hike on… My “dinner” break lasted an hour, so by 2:00 p.m. I was on my way again. The afternoon walk allowed me to stretch my mind and body a bit. There were some wonderful views, and the trail had less up and down. I covered an additional five miles by 5:00 p.m.; giving me a total for the day of 13.1 miles (21.2 miles on the AT). Wednesday there is a 60 percent chance of rain… Blood Mountain (Georgia’s tallest mountain) is slated for Wednesday.