January 30, 2011

De Ca-Boose

Well, I'm sure you are all dying to know how the weekend camping / hiking trip went. It was a blast! Brock, Mimi & I had to head down on Friday after work to meet Mike, Papa, Mel, Jordan & Mo. It was about a 3 hour ride to Amicalola Falls State Park, GA - and we had all of the camping gear except for what Mike & Papa had been carrying, so we ended up setting up camp in the dark. No worries though, the boys are pros at setting up camping gear. Friday night it was about 23 degrees outside - just in case you don't know, that's well below freezing - and we nearly froze. We slept scattered around 2 camp grounds [4 tents total] and quickly decided on Saturday morning that all of the yougins would pile into the 4 man tent [that was 6 of us total...but it worked well, we slept head-to-toe in a row & were nice and toasty all night long!]. 

Saturday we all ate breakfast together & broke out in our groups for a day of hiking.

Jordan, Mo & Mel waiting on breakfast

Mike, Brock & I wanted to hike all the way to the top of Springer Mt., 7.3 miles away from our campground &  the actual start to the AT. (: We made it to the top in right at 3 hours [the sign at the bottom suggests 6 hours each way - ppsshhh]. Brock carried a day pack & Mike carried his brand-spankin'-new fanny hip pack while I trudged along in my pack that I'll be carrying on the trail. I did it mainly to see what it would be like hiking that far with a pack that was decently full - let's just say that it was a great practice run. While my pack wasn't as heavy as it is going to be, it was nice to know what it'll be like to have something attached to my body for miles and miles of walking. Mike said that eventually you don't even realize it's there - that it sort of becomes a natural extension of yourself. 

Brock, Mike & Me gettin' ready for our hike

over half way in 1.5 hours!

the plaque and the first blaze of the trail for northbound hikers

the plaque for the Southern Terminus 

Mike, Me & Brock at the top! The next time we're here we'll be starting our northbound trek!  

I'm sure you've heard me mention trail names in the past. If not, everyone on the trail has a trail name that you go by---that other hikers know you by. Mine came easily...you ready for this?!


I quite literally trudged a good 200 - 300 ft behind the boys for most of the hike. Let me just say that I am A-OK with this. [Side note: at one point the boys were up ahead, within sight of course, as we passed a lady slightly older than us sitting on a rock in full hiking gear studying some maps. The boys fairly skipped past her...and here I came, about 200 feet back, carrying my full pack just trucking along---she looked up & quite concernedly said "Hi...um, are you with those guys?!" I smiled because I'm sure she was thinking, "What jerks to leave this poor girl who is carrying all of their stuff so far behind." Then I answered that "I sure am, I'm just bringing up the Ca-Boose!" She responded that she was glad - I truly think she was worried about me - and that I had a nice pack...] Anyway, I told the boys that I am like the Little Engine That Could - while it may take me all day to get where we're going, I can go all day. I know I don't have the speed that they have, but I do have endurance...which may do more for me in the long run! After my name came along we decided that our group is going to be The Run Away Train - Mike is The Conductor & Brock is Engine One. 

Enough rambling. Here are some thoughts that I jotted down in my journal about the hike & weekend:
  • my shoes were too small [glad to have figured this out early]
  • my joints HURT at the end of the day. I'm sure they'll get used to walking up and down mountains - just not in one day / night. [but I now know that I am fully capable of carrying 1/5 my body weight for miles and miles)
  • the trial is beautiful. SO beautiful even in the dead of winter. It is also so peaceful in the quiet spurts between our random ramblings with each other.
  • I can't believe in just 6 [short] weeks we'll be coming back, only this time to walk to Virginia. CRAZY!
  • While I was super tired (and sore) - it was so rewarding! I've been told that this experience will be one of the toughest things I'll ever do, but also one of the most rewarding. Bring it on!
  • My 15 degree bag isn't going to work. [bummer - because we just bought that sucker ... but it was too short! and i was cold!] We're gonna have to try to sell it & buy something different. 

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