AT Day 001:  Saturday April 8, 2023

Approach Trail – 8.5
Total AT Distance Hiked: 0 miles /0 kilometres

Today we set off for a long walk in the

The Collins dictionary defines ‘walk’ as –  “to move along or travel on foot at a moderate rate; advance in such a manner that at least one foot is always on the ground”.  

Simple really, one foot in front of the other,  moving at a moderate pace for a distance of  about 2,200 miles or  3,500km: walk, eat, sleep and repeat – for about 130 days.

Today is Day 1 which for me started at 2am. (Jetlag is really awful this time).  I spent a couple of hours online trying to sort out the fallout from the United Airlines cancellations and to set up automatic monthly  payment on our prepaid phone plan. It still surprises me that the AT&T stores can’t do this for you, but are happy to take the first payment instore. 

All done except the AT&T mysteriously took another months payment 2 days into an existing months plan.    What would a long hike be for us without some hiccup with AT&T. This is annoying, but it can be easily fixed next week when you can actually speak to a person.

With that done I went back to sleep. It is predicted to be a cold day today with heavy rain throughout the day. We briefly contemplated delaying the start of the hike by one more day as the weather is predicted to improve. We agreed that having rainy days is a part of AT,  we just have to go with the original plan. It is a  decision we regretted later in the day.

The northbound AT hike officially starts at Springer Mountain.  To reach the mountain, we needed to hike an 8.5 mile Approach Trail from  Amicalola Falls State Park which is located about 90 miles north of Atlanta.

As breakfast at the hotel was not worth staying for we ordered an Uber at 7.30am and within 3 minutes we were picked up by Derek in his grey Nissan van.  The trip took an hour and 15 minutes and in that time Derek helped us solve the problems of the world. He was originally from Jamaica and had a wicked sense of humour.  We laughed and talked the whole way and the time flew by. One of his memorable quotes “That’s life – its a package. You will be judged”  when talking about doing the right thing in life.

The Uber fare did not seem enough to compensate Derek for his time. So we gave him a tip to equal the fare that the private shuttle operators are charging hikers for this trip.  By the time we got to Amicalola Falls visitors centre it was raining heavily and it was cold, about 8°C /46F. We registered for the hike and had a short presentation from the AT Conservancy ‘RidgeRunner’  about trail etiquette. We are AT hiker number 2361 and 2362.

We took our starting photos under the  arch in pouring rain….not the start I envisioned.

For some reason you hike almost 8.5 miles on the approach trail to reach the AT trailhead at Springer Mountain but these approach trail miles are not included in the AT. The actual Appalachian Mountain range commences some 400 miles to the south in Alabama. We’ve heard so much about how difficult the approach trail is. While it does climb pretty much the whole way up the mountain including 175 stairs,  it did not feel too difficult.  But the cold and the rain sure did add to the challenge.

Once on the ridge the wind picked up and we were feeling heat being sucked from our bodies. By the time we reached Springer Mountain we were shivering and had lost all feeling in our hands.

Hypothermia was beginning to set in, we were shivering uncontrollably.   We had to stop here and put up the tent. We didn’t even go near the shelter as it was most like ly full on such a foul day.

The rain was lashing the tent as we rushed to get under cover. All our clothing layers under the weather gear were soaked to the skin. Hard to tell if it was from sweating or the rain or a combination of both. Once undercover,  out of our wet clothes and inside the tent, we got into our dry sleeping clothes and sleeping bag. With so much water around we feared getting our sleeping bags wet as that would have meant serious trouble. Luckily the bags stayed dry as we continued to shiver for the next half hour. With all our food in the bear box away from the campsite there was no way we were going back out. So we fell asleep a little hungry having skipped breakfast and lunch.

Welcome to the AT,  day one and we learnt that it truly is not to be underestimated.

The Falls by the way  were pretty spectacular, even on this gloomy, grey weather day. Tomorrow is predicted to be a little bit warmer and sunny.