On Mar 23, 2015, at 6:30 AM
Good morning! I am ready to hit the trail for Day 2 after a glorious first day on the trail.
I left Huntsville at 8 PM on Saturday and drove until 1 AM Sunday to reach the interstate exit prior to Hot Springs, NC. A short night in the Holiday Inn and my last bath for a while had me on the road early and at Trailside at 9:30. I am parked in the Public Parking at Hot Springs, NC, a tiny quaint trail town on the French Broad River. The day was clear and it warmed up well. A long hike along Lovers Leap Ridge led to a climb up Rich Mountain and some painful downhills. Aleve is my wonder drug, silencing the screaming of old knees during the downhill sections.
The scenery was incredible. The forest has not yet greened up and it is amazing in its starkness. The trail followed ridges from which you could see both ways far into the gray and brown hills.
I met 10 hikers going each direction. The story among the thru hikers going north was that the southern terminus was brutally cold in late February with snow, hail and ice. I am not surprised.
I spent the night at Deep Gap, 12+ miles from Hot Springs. A young couple, headed for Maine, shared the gap with me. Trail names “Bo” (girl) and “Dude.” They invited me to their campfire and we spent the evening sharing stories. The fellowship of the trail is marked by such connections… everyone has a trail name, and you are usually instant friends because you share a common bond in the trail. The trail name provides a sense of anonymity, allowing you to share things that you might not otherwise say to a stranger. My trail name is “Hawkeye.” It was my flight call sign in the Navy, and it’s a good woodsy name for a hiker.
It rained most of the night, but the morning is clear and cold. My new sleeping bag was toasty and I slept well. Up before 6 AM and on the trail by 7:30. Hoping for 19 miles today, but I have a 5600′ mountain between me and the next night’s sleep.
Metrics: Pack “zero weight” (no food or water) 27.7 pounds due to the cold weather gear (ugh!). 10 pounds of food for 5 days. 6.6 pounds of water. 29,740 steps yesterday for 12.2 miles. Eating 2 pounds a day, so I am starting with about 42 pounds this morning.
The trail is a magical place. It is hard, it is painful, but it is beautiful and rewarding. In many ways, my wife would say, the Appalachian Trail defines who I am. And it is a wonderful metaphor for life.
Have a great day.
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