“Fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken.” That was my mantra as I climbed another of the endless thousand foot asscents on Saturday.
The Appalachian Trail in Georgia is an endless succession of mountain climbs followed by sharp descents. The trail blazers must have been masochists.
I started last Sunday at Amicalola Falls state park and hiked 8.8 miles to reach the official southern start of the AT, Springer Mountain. The mountain was not noteworthy, small and without a view.
That evening on Springer I met a young guy named Justin. He was from NewJersey and had driven 13 hours the night before to reach springer. Somewhere in those 13 hours he realized that he had left his hiking boots at home. Not an auspicious start for Justin. I left early the next morning and haven’t seen him since.
The next day I hiked 15.8 miles to Goochshelter. The forest in that stretch was incredibly beautiful. Huge trees. Lots of water crossings and waterfalls. It felt like a landscape pulled from Lord of the rings.
The waterfall above is the last resting place for a group of Spanish Conquistadors. They had made their way up from Mexico in search of gold and the fountain of youth and routinely massacred local native populations. The Cherokee set a trap for them here, luring them into the narrow valley with gold, the Cherokee ambushed and killed all the conquistadors.
The legend days that a Cherokee chief beheaded the leader of the conquistadors at the top of the falls and threw his head down the falls to create a spell so that no white man would ever set foot in that land again.
The trail is tough. At mile 7 I met a young guy who had torn his hip flexor. On Tuesday night there was an older optometrist who went into arrhythmia and had to catch a ride out the next day. Almost everyone is nursing blisters and sore joints. There was an Army veteran who had rubbed the skin off both of his heels and they were just a bloody pulpy mess.
Thankfully I haven’t had any of those issues. Not even any blisters. I think my Fox River socks and sock liners have really helped on that front and all the weight lifting I’ve done has conditioned my legs and feet to withstand the punishment of the trail.
I’m taking a zero day today (Sunday) in Hiwasee, Georgia. It’s 69.5 miles in (78 if you count the approach trail).
Staying at the Top of Georgia hostel. They are very hiker friendly. $25 gets you a shower, laundry service (they wash it for you), a shuttle into town and free breakfast. It’s owned by Bob, aka Sir-packs-a-lot. He has been a guide and hiker for 35 years and has thru hiked the PCT, AT, and CDT aka the Triple Crown.
I was anxious to get to Haiwasee because I’d heard from other hikers that there was a $7 all you can eat fried chicken buffet. That’s all I thought about as I hiked my last 11 miles in on Saturday. So those mountains are cemented in my mind as fried chicken mountain.
The rumors were true. So between last night and today I’ve eaten about 7,000 calories worth of fried chicken and assorted southern fixings.
Well that’s about all I can stand to type on this phone. I’ll write a post about all the cool people I’ve met on the trail this week. There are a lot of cool people. I’m strangely more social on the trail than I am in real life. Tomorrow I’ll be in North Carolina.
I’m posting lots of pics to Instagram, check it out at www.Instagram.com/jackjoneshg
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