The Diary

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Dear Diary...

The start. Our friend John kindly brought me to the start of the trail, and then abandoned us! Now I am on my own for four days, until John re-appears to take away all those vital things which we realise we can after all do without (martini olives, etc)...

Captain's Log

We had an uneventful drive to Amicable State Park until the transmission on John's van decided it had had enough of these dang hills. I wound up hiking the dreaded approach trail, 9 miles almost straight up, stopping over night at the delightful Len Foote Hike Inn. The trail to the Inn is covered in fairy dust from all the sparkling mica rocks that stud the trail. The day (28th March) was sunny and warm, purple wood violets, white bloodroot and little yellow violets were blooming along the way. The trail is heavily wooded but the trees are still bare, allowing for some extensive mountain views.

After a hearty breakfast, including biscuits and gravy, it's a wonder I made it to the real start of the trail, Springer Mountain, 4.6 miles. However, I did reach the summit, at just about noon, and walked off in company with a new friend, Aaron. After 5 miles we detoured to view a waterfall, and there I decided to spend the night - my first night alone in the woods.

It was hard getting started next morning - my routine still hasn't set itself. I didn't leave until almost 10 a.m. I had filtered water the night before (comedy of errors!).  At this stage I was keeping up with the mileages I'd set myself, but was behind in location. On Thursday 29th I hiked to Justus Creek - a tough day of hiking. The hills were steep, the day warm and we still weren't used to it all. For some of us, it was the third day, often the toughest.

I still don't have the sense of having started on some long epic undertaking. I just feel, when I get up, that I am going for a walk in the woods - Bill Bryson's title being surprisingly apt. My main concern has been whether I will make it to Neel's Gap near the time arranged to meet John again. I'm not thinking of spending another 200 days in a tent.

The camping areas are quite pleasant and so I have stayed away from the shelters. The hike is much more physically demanding than I'd realised. The effort I had imagined would get me up 1000ft only gets me up 400ft! But I'm managing.

I am hiking in trail running shoes instead of sturdy boots, and it feels wonderful! I am so much more sure-footed and my feet love the soft insides. No problems from the foot surgery either - blissfully pain free, but I have only done 30 miles!

April 2, 2000, Neel's Gap, Ga ...I am a day behind schedule (already) since I decided to take an extra day here. The walk over Blood Mountain, coming into Neel's Gap, was not as bad as I had feared - alt. of 4.461 ft, but it was still time for a rest and re-sorting of the pack.

At 35lbs. including food and water, my pack has been the lightest of anyone's. However, at the Outdoor Center today, all the macho young men were in getting help in lowering pack weight. I even lowered my pack weight, I think.

The elevations here make Great Gable (Lake District, UK) look almost small, but the paths up are wooded. Sometimes the way is steep, sometimes switchbacked, sometimes surprisingly gentle and meandering - the way up Blood Mountain was all these at various times.

EJ and Jodie are supposed to have started yesterday - they are hoping to catch me up and then we'll stick together.

4th April - Late news.. EJ and Jodie have turned up! They have had a horrible time so far. Jodie's knee and ankle hurt, etc, and they are undecided whether to continue. I need to get back on the trail tomorrow, but it's snowing out now, so I told them to rest today. They decide tomorrow whether to continue or return with John.

The real start

Bloodroot.jpg (17298 bytes)

Bloodroot in flower

Aaron_at_Long_Creek_Falls.jpg (410340 bytes)

Aaron at the falls


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