AT Season 4: May 2019

Hard to believe that I first started my AT Adventure 3 years ago in May 2016 !I initially thought I would hike the complete 2190+ miles in one six month block of time but as my blog posts of the past 3 years have told all of you, this has morphed into a much longer trek. Someone who completes the entire AT hike in one season is called a thru hiker. I am now best described in hiker lingo as a “lasher” : “long ass section hiker”. Year 2016, I section hiked about 800+miles, year 2017 I hiked 500+ miles, year 2018 I hiked 500+ miles. This season I have to hike four separate sections of the AT ( about 400+miles) and then can call myself, in AT lingo a 2000 miler, which means I have completed the entire trail.My goal right now is for a 4 week May hike to include a 70 mile section from Springer Mountain GA to Dick’s Gap GA (69 miles), then to shuttle up to Davenport Gap NC to hike through Tennessee up to Damascus VA ( 240 miles).So here we go!Stephanie dropped me off in Albany, I took a non-stop flight to Atlanta, hopped on public transport MARTA train to REI store 30 miles north, then was shuttled up with a two hour car ride to the trail head. Started my hike by 1 PM!I was hiking solo this first stretch and took it slow with about 10 mile days. It takes a while to get back your ” hiker legs”. Most 2019 AT thru hikers have already begun their hike: usually in March or April. This is called the “big bubble”. I started at the end of the bubble and had smaller groups of novice hikers just beginning their 2019 thru hike as I left Springer Mountain. It was kind of fun being the “seasoned hiker” and being able to offer advice here and there.Hiking the AT is basically always walking up mountains or down mountains. No different in GA. Hard going, but worth it as long as you enjoy the scenery and the people you meet.Springer Mountain trailhead.My trusty Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 tent has held up nicely the past 3 years.It’s Spring. Wildflowers everywhere.After hiking about 30 + miles (3 days) I reached Neal’s Gap. This is the first major road crossing after starting the AT hike and there is a great outfitter store and hiker hostel right there. It’s said about 33% of new AT hikers decide right there and then that this was not what they bargained for and leave the trail. Look closely at the tree at Neal’s GAP Hostel and you can see scores of hiker boots thrown up on the branches. These were gifts from the hikers leaving the trail.Reached my goal of Dick’s Gap after the first 5 days.Passed by the Georgia version of the Cooperstown money Tree.Off to Davenport Gap!

My hiking partners Jan and Chip, dating back to our first meeting in the NH White Mountains back in 2016, picked me up at Dick’s Gap and we drove two hours north to Davenport Gap TN.

I’ll be hiking with Jan for the next stretch. She’ll be pushing me to do those “extra miles” each day.

The first two days were tough hiking in the rain. Fortunately, the second night we had a break late afternoon which gave us a chance to set up tents in dry weather.

Next morning we submitted Max Patch, a beautiful Bald (large meadow) on top of the mountain. Fog cleared up briefly, just enough for a good view.

After 3 days in the woods, we landed at Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs TN. Time for a shower and clean laundry.

We’re off tomorrow for more ups and downs.

Miss my family, friends and hospital life but am truly greatful for the amazing opportunity to be out on the trail.

Will continue to keep you posted…

Signing off as White Cloud, aka The Lung Ranger