The First Patrol
This tree was snapped off like a match stick
Hiawassee, GA, Top of Georgia Hostel, Sunday March 8, 2015 — My first patrol was over late Friday night. The hiking was energy intensive at times, especially in the snow early on. The ice and wind inflicted some serious damage on the trees, especially along the expose saddles between mountains.
Overall, the trail treadway is in good shape. The water is draining properly and the mud is minimal under the conditions although my clothes were covered with it by the time I’d reached the summit of Springer Mountain.
Along the way I was able to clear several blowdowns that impeded navigation.
The hikers seemed strong and determined for the most part. I did notice a propensity for them to hold at shelters or dive into town when it rained. I can’t say I didn’t do some of that during my hike. Hiking in the rain is miserable.
My patrol pattern will be changing for the rest of the time I’m here. From now on, I’ll be hiking south from Neels Gap to Springer where I’ll spend two days while the caretaker there is off. This makes sense since most of the need to help hikers occurs in the first 30 miles.
Naturally, Murphy was lurking over my shoulder. I didn’t get back to Hiawassee until 11:30 p.m. Friday evening. I was so tired that I locked my car keys in the trunk. I had to go to Atlanta to get a new one. Lesson learned!
This weekend was spent at the Appalachian Trail Kickoff. It’s a hiking seminar at Amicalola State Park. The presentations ranged wide and far from bears, to hostels, to lightweight gear. It’s designed to help hikers learn what would be helpful for them to know prior to starting their hikes.
It was a special privilege to meet and talk with Gene Espy, the second person ever (1953) to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.
Next week we do it again.
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