Observation One: The Beginning
I was amazed at the amount of thru hikers who got dropped off at the parking lot a mile south of Springer Mtn to begin their thru hiking quest. I'm not saying this is a precursor to a failed hiking attempt, but I don't understand why hikers chose to do this and skip the main adventure - getting to that first white blaze.
First they miss the idea of a "pre" start. For those who go southbound, one must negotiate a pretty intense 5 mile trip up the massive Katahdin to begin a thru hike. Here, it's a modest 8.8 miles over tame terrain. Yes, the "steps" up the first mile are kind of steep. But isn't the falls worth it? Hey, I even liked the arch! And the nice woods hike for 8 miles. It's all good.
|The "start" or the arch at Amicalola Falls|
|The reward for a few stairs - a gorgeous waterfall.|
Observation Two: Preparation
I was now amazed at the "lack" of preparation by thru hikers for their long distance hikes. When I stopped at Black Gap shelter and met a hiker with a 40 degree bag for his trip, I knew there was trouble lurking in this year's class. Hikers did not expect cold and snow. They found themselves bailing out or even quitting. It made me wish they had taken to heart the first rule of Leave No Trace. Plan and Prepare. Some say you don't need to plan for a hike like this. I say it puts your dream in jeopardy if you do not. One must always be ready for any and every weather condition out there. Take an adequate sleeping bag. Take layers (and NOT cotton!). Don't be carrying 50 pounds on your back of wasted stuff you'll never use. Don't bring a 5lb tent (boy I saw a lot of bad tents out there and hikers complaining their tents leaked) Bring a map and some kind of guidebook. Prepare.
|Unexpected snow, cold and wind greeted hikers late in March this year. Plan for all kinds of weather!|
|Lots of ascents and descents on the AT means possible injuries. Work through it and know before you go.|
Observation Four: Showing Respect
How I wish hikers showed respect for people, towns and the trail. It is severely lacking on the trail. One thinks if they are doing a thru hike, they are "special" and they can therefore do and say whatever they please. Including trashing motel rooms with dirt blood and dog pee, not giving tips to drivers and motel staff, using foul language everywhere (I heard the f** word ALL the time at camp. For every possible thing or just as a part of normal conversation. Oh wow, my f**ing thing broke. Oh did you f** see that. I'm gonna put my f**ing tent up, I guess. Oh yeah, f** this. ). Out of the depths of a heart the mouth speaks. A mouth speaking such vulgarity means the body is likewise doing vulgar things and showing disrespect. Hikers, clean up your act, which means your foul mouth as well as your hands! Show respect. Respect elders. Respect trail providers. Respect towns. Respect the trail (like NO trash or toilet paper flowers!!) Pack it in, pack it out. Make the trail a great place for all.
|Lots of tents in Locust Cove Gap on my last night. And lots of swearing too.|
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