The Appalachian Trail or the “A.T.” as it is popularly known, is a vast hiking trail beginning in Georgia and continuing all the way up into Maine. This 2,200 mile trek can be enjoyed at any pace, whether it's just a day hike, a weekender, or the grueling “thru hike”; usually completed around 3-4 months on average.
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do, combining my two loves of fitness and traveling. I absolutely love having been raised in Georgia and was so excited at the chance to start the A.T. from my home state. What was even more exciting was that I got to do it with my family. This made the trip full of laughs and intimate moments spent doing life together as well as sharing the entire experience.
WHERE WE HIKED:
Depending on where you start your hike, this will affect the terrain and level of hiking you will be doing. To get the full effect of starting the A.T., we decide to start at the very beginning. We caught a cab to the drop off spot just past Springer Mountain and hiked back up a mile or so to the very beginning of the trail, known as Southern Terminus. You also have the option to hike the approach trail up Amicalola falls, but we decided to bypass this since it was not technically part of the A.T. These are the only two choices since the start of the trail is on the top of the mountain.
Hawk Mountain, where we chose to camp on day 1, is located about 7.8 miles north into the trail. There are specific camp grounds and actual shelters located at certain points, but there are also individual sites all along the way. I recommend camping in one of these, because you will not have to worry about overcrowding or having enough room. These individual spots are also each unique and make for a more spontaneous camping experience. All of the sites and shelters are first come first serve, so be flexible with where you are willing to camp.
On day 2, we covered another 8.4 miles which included climbing Sassafrass and Justice Mountain. Most of this section was uphill, leading to our next campsite at Gooch Mountain Shelter. On our final day we only had a short 5 miles to cross to make it back to our cars located at Woody Gap. This is also a popular gap for parking for day hikes. This put us right at 21.8 miles over a 3 day hike.
We planned ahead what area of the trail we would be camping in as to make it back to our cars on the final day of the hike. Hindsight, I would definitely recommend parking where you start and taking a cab back to your car when you’re finished. This way you don't have any restrictions as to how far you have to go each day. We missed out on a lot of really cool camp sites along the way because we had a dead line to get to a certain point. And also depending on your stamina, you might even make it a good deal further than you had initially thought you could. This leaves room for spontaneity and you can enjoy finding the perfect campsite when you’re ready to crash for the night!
It's amazing what a short weekend can teach you about yourself. When you strip everything down to the necessities needed to simply live, you get a different perspective on what is important and even what you can handle as a person. I was originally not too excited on not showering for 3 days, but at the end of a long day of hiking, showering was the last thing on my mind! I’ve never had such a deep night’s sleep than on my first day on the trail. What I found incredible was that even after being completely physically drained I was so excited for the next day. I looked forward to the next mountain we would conquer and hopefully finding one more spectacular view! While most of the trail is covered by trees, you will find some incredible views along the way! Ramrock Mountain, located about 19 miles into the trail has one of the best mountain views I’ve ever seen. You’ll most definitely take a few spills and roll an ankle or two, but you come to love every sore muscle and bruise. You earned it!
Wanna know the first thing we did after we got off the trail? Hint: It involved two extra-large pizzas with all the toppings! After burning on average 3000 calories a day, we definitely earned a few guilt free slices! The day after returning home, I found myself already wanting to go back! The trail has a way of calling you back to it. After doing section hiking, I would absolutely love to do a thru hike of the whole trail over several months. We are already planning our next trip to pick up where we left off!
Best, Dillan Moore