During our first section of the A.T., back in April 2022, we passed 47 miles and at least that many hikers. A few weeks back, my sister and I set out again, this time picking up where we’d left off at Hogpen Gap. We hiked some 32 more miles of the Georgia section and erring on the side of generosity, saw less than a dozen hikers.
Beyond the number of fellow backpackers, so many things were different. Every trek is solely its own and unique.
Seemingly contrarily, in April we hiked into Appalachia and back into winter. Spring hadn’t reached the higher elevations yet; everything was skeletal, misty, quiet. No katydids. No tree frogs. Just Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, ramps (a wild onion), and pines.
Now, in September, we found lush green all around. Woodpeckers greeted us echoing from every direction each morning. We didn’t see any of the ramps which so plentifully bordered the trail during our first section-hike. Now, were Late Purple Astor, Mountain Decumbent Goldenrod, White Snakeroot, Common Blue Astor, and Low Smart Weed–wildflowers of every sort growing waist-high.
Shelters All to Ourselves
Y’all, having an empty three-sided hut all to yourselves, where you and your best friend (ie, my sister) can hang out all night staring at the rafters, listening as acorns, released from their branches, pop across the wooden planks of the shelter rooftop…it’s pretty awesome, and it feels like when you were kids and had a secret fort in the woods.
No one will see your shiny hiney when you use nature’s prickly bathroom off the trail.
Except that lone hiker who got a full frontal of me, shorts around my knees, wet wipe clutched in my hand. But he just got lucky.
A sincere and quiet thank you to that kind man who lied, saying he saw nothing, and then, continued on chatting about his daughters without missing a beat.
The privy? It’s all yours. The shelter? Same!
According to the internet, hunting season starts now and ends never, or maybe in January. And you can only hunt bear, with a specific weapon at that. But also, deer eventually? And with a crossbow.
I’ve seen that Hunger of the Pine video–wear your day-glow orange.
Still, in our time out there, we only met one hunter. The white glow of his headlamp floated by Whitley Gap Shelter in the night, and he apologized for startling us, his kind voice drifting out from behind the bright hard shine of his light.
“Did he seem ok?” My stirring sister asked me.
The next morning over warm bitter coffee, he wandered up to apologize again for slinking by our shelter covered in bloody bear gore, a rifle strapped to his chest.
My sister’s eyes said “what the–”
“I couldn’t see him. He had a good voice,” I met her eyes and drank my coffee.
Low Gap Shelter
We skipped it. If you know, you know.
Rather than Frosty, Springer, Cedar, Sassafras, and Blood Mountain, my sister and I tackled Blue, Rocky, Tray, and Kelly’s Knob. Uphill is hard and suck is suck. Y’all, why are there so many mountains on the A.T.? Discuss.
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