Springer Mountain to Hawk Mountain Shelter – 8.1 miles
I take the midnight train to Georgia from Union Station at 6:30 PM. The train is scheduled to arrive at 8:13 AM, but it is after 9 AM before we arrive in Atlanta. I walk about a mile from the train station to the MARTA station to catch the subway to North Springs, where shuttle driver Survivor Dave and another hiker name Trish, pick me up.
On the drive to the trailhead, we stop at Wal-Mart to get water and I get a Big Mac meal. This is my second Big Mac meal in as many days, as I had one last night at Union Station. Big Macs are delicious and I figure the extra calories and fat won’t hurt. Who knows when my next one will be.
On the way up the fire road to Big Stamp Gap, we stop at the point the trail crosses the road to stash a gallon of water for each of us, so that we have water to refill when we reach this point in a couple of days. Survivor Dave drops us off at Big Stamp Gap. From this small parking lot, the terminus is one mile south on the AT to Springer Mountain, mile 0.0. Survivor Dave takes my picture at the sign and then leaves.
I get situated and then quickly cover the one mile to Springer Mountain. Trish had left before me and I soon catch her. Survivor Dave estimated her pack to be close to 50 pounds. Way too much, especially for her. I get to the terminus and am very excited to turn around and get walking north toward Katahdin. I take a few pictures of the plaque and first white blaze that another hiker points out (I would have missed it). The weather is gloomy and a light mist is starting. Many days later I realize I did not even sign the trail register. Oh well. All I was thinking was “Katahdin”.
Let’s get this show on the road. I can’t believe I’m here starting this hike. I start hiking north. About a hundred yards up the trail, I pick up a small rock to carry to Katahdin. I forgot to pick one up at the terminus itself, but this is close enough. I leave Springer at about 1:20 PM. The terrain is easy, I’m obviously fresh; I am moving! I hike the 8.1 miles in just over 2 hours. I get to Hawk Mountain Shelter about 3:30 PM. I find a spot to tent away from everyone else. It’s about 50 degrees, misty, rainy, and foggy. It’s a good hiking day though considering the late start. I feel good and I’m ready for a full day tomorrow. Today I had Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz stuck in my head.
The first blaze.