Started at Amicalola falls state park around eleven thirty on Thursday morning. My father joined me on the walk to the top of the falls. There are something like 460 steps to the top. My father made sure I paced my self by stopping on every other series of steps. I am actually very thankful that he did. I think that I would have just ran up them in my excitement and then have been spent already. We said our farewells at the top and I set off alone.
I reached the start of the Appalachian Trail late in the day. I was the only one up there so I snapped a few pictures, signed the log book and headed off. On the way down I passed this huge dude with an enormous pack heading in the opposite direction. He had a machete lashed to the side and a little guitar sticking out the top. I said, "Hey" and kept going. I shortly started running out of light so I started to look for places to camp.
I picked a nice little spot by a creek at dusk. Set up my tent, hung my food bag from a tree and headed inside for the night. I couldn't have been laying there more than an hour or so when I started hearing pitter patter on the tent.
Then entire night ranged from gentle rain to torrential downpour with high winds. I spent the majority of the time checking to make sure there weren't any leaks. I got a few drops on me every now and then, but it seemed like it was just the condensation being knocked off the inside of the tent.
When morning rolled around the rain had stopped so I got out and packed up. Very chilly morning but also very pretty. The trail went through tunnels of rhododendron and lots of creek crossings. I stopped not long in the morning to grab a bite to eat. While I was sitting on a stump along comes the big dude with the machete. He stops and we start talking. His names is Josh and was a former Marine. He said he is carrying 75lbs and is hating his life right now. The little guitar that I saw him with was given away as soon as he got to the top of Springer mountain, not long after I had seen him. He is wanting to send some stuff off from a post office as soon as he can. We spent the whole day hiking together and talking. He is going by, "Big Dumb Animal" and I am officially going by, "Frenchy"
He had to stop often going up some of the more challenging climbs and I was thankful because my feet had started to hurt in odd spots. As we pushed on through the day we ran into a variety of other people. A nice older couple from Minnesota, named "Heading out" and "Taggin' along" and a guy from South Carolina named "Undetermined". We were all loosely hiking about the same pace most of the day.
Around eleven or noon, we made it to the next shelter where there were still people mulling about from the night before. We stopped there to have lunch and man o man was there a cold wind blowing. I think we all started moving out again in about an hour or less. The rest of the day turned out to be hard going. Lots of going up and down. Not terrible by any means, but because my feet were hurting I think I changed my gait to compensate and now my knee is hurting too.
When camp was made I walked over to the shelter area, where everyone was talking and eating, and quietly ate my food. I hung around the nice fire that was made until dark and then collapsed in my sleeping bag.
When day came I got up and heard Animal stirring who set up near me. He said he felt immensely better than the day before and was looking forward to the mile and half hike to the road crossing where he could get a lift to the post office. I too felt better, my feet were not nearly as tender. I set up a meeting with my father at the same road crossing so I could swap my shoes out. Before that though, I got rid of the insoles that I was convinced where the source of my woes. I had bought new insoles for my boots the day before I started for some reason. When I cut them down to size, I must have cut them too narrow and that was causing the pain by the balls of my feet. Also, I was getting heel pain, not on the sole of my foot, but on the back. Basically it felt like my boots were too small. So, I removed those insoles and hoped that solved the problem.
Animal and I were one of the firsts to leave the shelter area and my feet felt great. They only hurt slightly from the previous days walking, but it didn't feel like I was still doing damage anymore. My knee on the other hand was still zinging me on the downhills.
It wasn't long until we reached the road crossing. Animal and I exchanged numbers and separated intending to meet up down the trail. My signal on my phone was practically non existent and there were no markers on the road to indicate the trail crossed there. After waiting twenty minutes or so I sent a message to my father to meet me at a different road crossing. It was 3 miles away for me but on a well marked paved road for him.
Some people from the shelter area caught up to me and we hiked for a while together. At the peak before the road crossing we were taking a break before the descent, when my dad huffing and puffing comes striding up the hill. I walked the rest of the way back to the car with him. No foot pain except for some residual, but I need to ice the knee a bit.
So here I am, showered with a bag of peas on my knee. I am reluctantly going to spend the night here. I figure it is better to take some time and recoup a bit than forcing more miles through the pain.
I am having a blast.