I will start by apologizing for the fact that I'm unable to share pictures at this time. I borrowed a laptop to bring on my trip that does not have my new Cannon DSLR software installed. That having been said, I thought I'd still post a bit about my time on the Appalachian Trail.
I've spoken briefly about my experience on Springer Mountain and plan to go into more detail once my photos are available. My second "meeting" with the Appalachian Trail included a hike to the summit of Blood Mountain. Now, being the avid reader that I am, I'd already been warned that this hike was considered strenuous, something that didn't scare me off. My son and I found getting to the trailhead much easier than the previous day. We parked the car, looked around the almost empty lot, and just stood, taking it all in. Our first order of business is to suit up with bug spray because the insects along the trail are persistent hiking companions. Lo and behold....I'd taken the spray out the night before to adjust the contents of our bad and forgot to put it back in. Okay....so no big deal. We could deal with the ever-present buzzing sounds in our ears. Surprisingly enough, though, neither of us suffered any bites. Double checking our bag for water and other items, we were finally ready to head out.
The trail head led us almost immediately into a dense forest of low growing, flowering trees, giving the trail an almost spooky effect. Pretty much from the beginning, the trail ascended steeply via a series of swithbacks as we seemed to zig-zag up the side of the mountain. Approximately .7miles up the trail, we came into a clearing and met up with the Appalachian Trail. Once again, my senior brain couldn't remember which way we were suppose to go. My son's advice proved to be wise: if we want to hike to the summit then we have to take the trail direction that goes up not down....so we did just that...and boy, UP it went! My son has the patience of a saint with me so my frequent requests to stop and catch my breath didn't phase him. He seemed to have non-stop energy for our climb while there were moments when I seriously didn't think my leg muscles could lift my butt up on more rock or step. My heart was pounding and sweat was pouring off of me and I'll even admit that there were a couple of times where I thought about quitting. My son would just say "it's up to you." I knew I couldn't quit. For most AT hikers, this is just a small piece of their journey. For me, it's the beginning of what I hope to continue some day in the future. So, onward and upward we went. After over 2 hours of hiking up, we finally broke the summit and the view was amazing! We were so high at times that my son would ask me if we were actually in the clouds. Yes, we were. I have to digress for a moment to add that my son said several times that the forest that surrounded us was just what he would think a bear would come out of and he was forever planning his escape route should we encounter one. I told him that the bear would just have to eat me because I was too exhausted for an escape attempt. It wasn't until we began our descent that I could take the time to notice just how deep in the woods we really were. Very few people ever get to see what we were seeing. It's amazingly peaceful and natural...so real. Getting down the mountain didn't take as long as going up did and before we knew it, we were once again in that clearing where the AT crossed a side trail that was our exit to the trail head. It was then that we were joined by a solitary hiker who simply smiled and said hello as he passed us and headed up the same trail we'd just come down. Hiking that area alone would really be amazing but I'm not quite ready for that one yet. I have decided my next goal is to hike from Amicalola Falls to the southern terminus of the AT atop Springer Mountain. There's a shelter there to spend the night before making the return trip the next day. Again...a trip that would be a baby step for the experienced AT hiker but will be an achievement for me.
I am hoping to put all my feelings into better words that will be shown in the pictures I took along the way. I was exhausted and sore from my "mountain climbing" adventures but would do it all over again if I could. I want to stand on the summit of Springer Mountain again (just via a route other than that drive up FSR28 or 42). I want to hike from one mountain to the next. I want to be where my spirit feels free. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail.