Georgia AT 2010

Mary and Keith hiked most of the Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trail back in early May 2010. We stayed at the Hiker Hostel near Dahlonega each night and drove/​shuttled to and from the trailheads each day. So, we were slackpacking, which is the best way to hike the AT if you can do it. You get a hot shower and a soft bed every night.

The scenery in northern Georgia doesn’t compare to that in the Rockies. The most memorable aspects of this trip were the good people we met, including the six from Franklinton, Louisiana, with whom we hiked every day.

As usual, click on a photo to enlarge it.

Day 1: Sunday, May 2

We were fortunate to have six great hiking companions from Franklinton, Louisiana, who happened to be doing the same hike we were doing. The first photo shows the Gang of Six at the top of Springer Mountain, where the trail begins. Clockwise from the upper left: Robby, Bill, Glenn, Steve, Fred, and Raymond.

Top of Springer Mountain Raymond Fred Steve Glenn Robby Bill Gang of Six End of first day, Horse Gap

As I recall, we hiked 10 to 11 miles the first day—a good warm-up.

Day 2: The weather forecast predicted thunderstorms for Monday; so, Mary left her camera behind. The weather that day was probably the best hiking weather we had all week. No storms. No rain at all after we started the hike.

Day 3: Tuesday, May 4

The third day included a strenuous climb up Blood Mountain. At the Blood Mountain shelter, we encountered a through-hiker called Ladybird, with whom Mary struck up a conversation. Ladybird (Ashley Ravestein) is an ultra-runner from Los Angeles, who runs 50-mile and 100-mile races. She is only hiking the AT this year because she knew she couldn’t finish the Continental Divide Trail in time for her sister’s wedding. Mary and I drafted behind her on the way down to Neel’s Gap. Our six friends from Franklinton were surprised at how far ahead of them we finished that day, but we were really moving to keep up with Ladybird.

Bill, Steve, and Robby Great View Near top of Blood Mountain Blood Mountain Shelter Keith climbing rocks Ladybird Neel’s Gap

In Colorado two years ago, we encountered an interesting Australian fellow on the trail but neglected to get his name or take a photograph of him. I was thinking of him as Mary chatted with Ladybird, and I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Day 4: Wednesday, May 5

Day 4 was a short day, which left more time for play in the afternoon. All of us cooled our heels in a local creek, and some of us cooled more than our heels.

Keith and Mary near Hogpen Gap Bill, Steve, and Raymond Robby gets wet

Day 5: Mary chose not to carry a camera on the fifth day. So, we have no photos, but we walked about 14 miles.

Day 6: Friday, May 7

Day 6 was our longest day—17 miles. It’s good to save the longest day for last, because you get stronger each day you hike. It would have been a really good day if the temperature had been 10 °F to 15 °F cooler.

Day 6 was also the day when we encountered the most interesting wildlife: a small timber rattlesnake, which Bill nearly stepped on. Later that day while Mary and Keith were hiking ahead of the group, Keith heard another rattlesnake buzz once off to the left, but neither of us saw it. A few steps farther down the trail, Mary saw the word RATTLER scratched into the dirt. A little later we met the hiker who had scratched out the warning. He told us he had had an experience there almost identical to Bill’s.

View of the trail View of the trail with guys Rattlesnake Rattlesnake Robby Robby, Bill, Raymond, Fred, and Steve Steve