Monday, April 9, 2012

Jeff leaves for AT Trail

On April 7th, the day before Easter, Kendall, my granddaughter and I dropped off my son, Jeffrey for his 2,000 plus mile hike of the Applacahian Trail (AT) which runs from Amacaloa Falls National Park in Georgia to Kathadin Mtn in Maine.  He's expecting to be on the trail four to five months and has been preparing for 6 to 8 months.  He carries a 13 weight pack, much smaller than most.  Some people try carrying 45 lb. packs but end up tossing a good bit of either gear or food, because the AT Trail is a ridge trail, meaning that it connects mountains and mountain ridges.
We all enjoyed a "last supper" at Monterey's, our favorite Mexican restaurant near our house, since he won;t be eating hot food for a while.  He decided not to bring a stove.  Then after  a 3 hour drive, we reached the entrance, where he weighed his pack and signed in as thru-hiker no #801 at the very nice visitor's center.  So that means over 800 thru-hikers have started from the Georgia end since March 1st when the trial opens.
We were shocked at  how packed the entrance was with day-hikers. We had to get in line in our car to pay to get into the park and then drive around before finding one of the rare remaining parking places.  Lots of families of all nationalties cooking out, having Easter Egg hunts, playing badminton and hiking.  It was bizarre.  WE only saw two other thru-hikers at the visitors center and then when we left, Kendall and I saw a van with three packs on top.  The ranger told Jeff, 20 thru hikers had taken off that same day so he's probably already met some of them by now.  And with those three signing in about 3:30. that may make about 25 for the day. 
We spent time there so at the center so Kendall could enjoy it.  They have two great displays of all the wild animals he might meet on the trail, one a daytime display and the other a night time scene.  It's really informative to be able to really gage the size of the black years, wolves, bobcats, foxes etc. prevalent in these woods.  The first Mountain, Springer Mtn. is about 4,000 feet high, not the tallest of the trail, but still a hefty height.  He has already reached it, I imagine.  She bought an adorable owl purse (Jeff gave her a lifelike  stuffed owl from here for Christmas) and she did the machine where you stamped a penny, her's with the waterfall scene and one for Jeff with the hiker scene.
Then we set off on the trail walking through the stone archway, which features the beginning of the side trail which officially leads to the AT.  Jeff wanted us to hike with him on the mile trail to see the majestic Amacalola Falls, but Beth (who unfortunately was in flip flops and had to take Dramamine to survive the road, wasn't up to it and neither was I.  The trail is beautiful starting at a resevoir and runs alongside a large stream with many small waterfalls.  But then it suddenly goes up at a steep angle where I was working bent over in half to make it up the incline.  We did get to a plateau where we could take photos and see Jeff off, but Kendall and I only made it about 1/8 of the mile, I'm afraid.  I don't know how Jeff does it, but he's been in training so he will do fine. At Christmas he weighed a slim 180, but bulked up on purpose knowing he'll lose a lot of weight on the hike.  A week's worth of his food fits in a shoebox.

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