Appalachian Trail Conservancy

If you get a minute, check out the ATC website and read about the history of the AT. The Georgia section has been amazing – thanks to the amazing hard work of thousands of volunteers – I’ve met several on the way. Each section has an overseer. 

Today’s excitement involved seeing a ruffed grouse and finding my way to the “Top of Georgia” hostel – shower and a bunk $25

  

The terrain

In Georgia, the Appalachian mountains are a series of peaks and valleys ranging in elevation between 2500 and 4500 feet. The trail takes you over several peaks and into several valleys (called gaps) each day. The trail is very well maintained and is marked by  a white rectangle (white blaze) painted on a tree at regular intervals. It would be very hard to get lost. I’m hiking about 10 miles a day, which leaves a fair amount of time to rest and birdwatch. Two of my favorite birds so far are the pileated woodpecker and the blue headed vireo – lots of them here. All for now.   Junco

  
  
  

Trail Name

Many section hikers and thru hikers have trail names that are given to them by fellow hikers- or choose themselves. I picked up my name today. I’ve been gaining a reputation as a bird enthusiast. I carry binoculars which are considered a luxury item on the AT and I have been trying to share with other hikers knowledge about the cool birds in this area. Some folks want to give me the trail name of Bird Man, but I wasn’t too crazy about that. While hiking today I came across a pair of dark eyes juncos who seemed to be completely unafraid of me. Their call sounded a lot like “pick me, pick me”, so I assumed that was a sign. So now my trail name is Junco – one of America’s  most common and under appreciated birds. 

Neels gap

    31.7 miles down and quite a few to go. Reportedly 25 % of those who started are done. This tree at the Neels gap outfitter collects the boots of those who have called it… 

  

  
 

Big rain

Poured all night last night – had to get up and take my tent down in the rain. Cleared up as I hiked and now I’m drying up at my next campsite. I’m being told “No rain, no pain, …no Maine” so I am gladly accepting both. Big issues are the large number of hikers on the trail, troublesome bears (although I haven’t seen one yet) and a norovirus stomach bug epidemic among hikers and shelter users in Georgia and NC. The other comment I keep hearing is that it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong – not sure what to think about that. Averaging 8 miles a day and hoping to get up to 10 next week. Every day has several spectacular moments.

Getting started

 Two days on the trail. Very mild weather in north Georgia 70s during the day and 50s at night. . It still looks like winter here. Bare trees and no flowers. The trail and shelters are quite crowded but I’ve found some nice camp sites. So far, so good. When I get to a town, I’ll post some photos.

   
 
  

Inspiration

Flew into Nashville today to meet Dr. Harry Brown and his wife Karen (IHS physicians) 

 
They hiked the AT from Georgia to Maine in 1989  – the photo shows them summiting Katahdin in September 1989. 

Looks fun, huh?