Blue Ridge Journal Day 7

Day 7


Didn’t sleep much the night before…an hour, maybe two. Got up at 4:45 am, woke up Josiah and we backed quietly out of the drive and pointed the Sports Utility Van toward Springer Mountain (the start of the Appalachian Trail)…or so we thought. After logging over 2 hours of driving, most of which was dusty gravel back roads, we came to the end of our directions and realized we were nowhere near where we wanted to be. Jo rummaged around in the dash and found some similar directions that stated we were supposed to head in the complete opposite direction at a particular juncture. No one, I repeat, no one is conscious in Georgia at this time of the morning so I couldn’t even break the male-stereotype and ask for help. After back-tracking 10 or 12 miles we were once again on course and finally found the parking lot on Springer, which was empty except for one lone black Jeep. Jo and I donned our packs; I slipped into my Father’s Day present (Dana bought me a pair of waterproof Northface hiking boots at a really cool gear shop in Blue Ridge) and after making a quick “wilderness deposit” we sprang toward the white blazes with vigor and excitement. We chose as our destination the first shelter on the trail, Black Gap. We were finally here. Though we were only doing a half-day hike we were stoked to be doing it on the AT. Josiah remarked that though he had been excited at the possibility of one day doing a thru-hike, after having actually set foot on the trail it seemed like something we were supposed to do. It’s what I’ve felt for a while and it was great hearing him say it. The AT was clearly marked and, at least on this section, easy hiking but due to our excursion yesterday I was having some pain in my big toe on my right foot. I’m not sure what it is but it flares up anytime I hike on uneven terrain. About an hour in we arrived at a small footbridge that crossed a little creek. I needed a break so I sat down, pulled off my new boots (which had worn a blister on my pinky toe…same foot) and changed into my trail running shoes. I scrounged around in my pack, found a Zip-lock bag of Advil and munched a handful. It was at the precise moment I swallowed that I thought, “Advil aren’t pink.” Oh crap. No, Advil aren’t pink…Benadryl are. I freaked. Jo said, “Let’s turn around and go back.” Sage advice. Sage advice I’d have to ignore. We’d waited too long and traveled too far to turn back this close to our goal. I examined my options, which were few. The only sensible thing seemed to be getting the pills back up. So while Jo turned away in pity I jammed my ample fingers down my throat. Now, it’s probably important to note here that I absolutely hate throwing up. I can’t stand it and will avoid it at all costs. Just the sensation of feeling my own wet, throat flesh closing around my fingers should’ve been enough to trigger the desired effect…but it wasn’t. After struggling unsuccessfully for several minutes I verbally kicked myself and hopped back on the trail. Crazy enough, within minutes we saw a sign for the shelter. We made it to our goal. After snapping some pics, reading some of the entries in the guestbook and making an entry of our own we started back for the parking lot as the effects of the little pink pills settled in. I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of our trip back up the mountain or our van ride back down the mountain for that matter. I do remember waking up 5 hours later in my bed at the cabin feeling groggy but rested. I was greeted by my beautiful wife who said, “Hey, the dam released. You up for a paddle?” Sure, why not. After a peaceful trip (our 4th this week) down the Toccoa we returned to the cabin where Keith built a campfire of such blazing magnitude it was near impossible to approach with a skewered marshmallow. As if the Smores weren’t enough we followed our bonfire feast up with a visit to a local Dairy Queen the Bigos’ had scouted out earlier in the week. Adventure comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a pecan cluster Blizzard with extra pecans.

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