First AT miles (ok, feet, but still) scheduled, hints, pointers, suggestions needed.
I'm getting ready to do the approach trail from Amicalola to Springer next weekend and looking for any pointers, hints, suggestions, etc. My plan is to do the hike up on Saturday, camp and then hike back down Sunday. I feel pretty good about the miles and elevation gain but it looks like there are several campsites on the way up if I find that I may not be ready for the whole thing yet. I've done the Pine Mountain trail in Cartersville (east and west loop together) pretty regularly and average 2 to 2.2 mph and I've done Gahuti trail a couple of times and the elevation and difficulty look similar. I plan on parking at the park and tenting at the campsite near the shelter. Anything I should be aware of? Any secret views or other hidden gems I should be on the lookout for? The plan is to do it a couple of times and then start working my way north a section at a time asy schedule permits.
I won't be able to get to the trail until probably 11:00am, but that'll give me a lot of daylight and hopefully enough to make it all the way to Springer.
I'm watching the weather and figure I'm gonna get wet. Not terribly worried about that (was in the Army and am convinced they scheduled every FTX based on when it was most likely to rain... If it ain't rainin' we ain't trainin').
I've got my planned route set in GaiaGPS and that's saying 7.5 miles and 2,375 feet of ascent .
Pretty excited !!
Hey @nathanu! 😄 Super awesome hike you've got planned! I did the AT with my dog in 2011 and skipped the approach trail because I didn't want to deal with a dog on leash in a crowd; going back and doing that 8 miles is on my bucket list! Even though it's a slog of a climb, I've heard it's absolutely beautiful with the waterfall views. Have fun on it! 🙂
The best piece of advice I can offer is to keep your pack weight low. You're just going to be out for one night. I don't say that to minimize/discount your trip (please don't read it as "You're just going to..."), but rather to remind you that you'll be back at your car the very next day so there's no need to pack two pairs of pants, three socks, etc. Especially if it's going to be raining, consider leaving the camp comforts behind: the one pound chair, hatchet, etc.
One piece of advice I could give would be to check what time sunset is. Let's assume it's 6:30. I prefer to stop hiking one hour before sunset, which would stop me hiking at 5:30 to give myself time to set up my tent, cook supper, gather water for the night, etc. Do a pace audit on yourself at the last potential alternative campsite. Based on your start time and hiking pace, can you make it to the final destination campsite before that one hour mark and/or sunset? If so, great, push on. If not, maybe think about stopping for the night at the alternate and waking up early the next morning to finish your ascent. I think you would have plenty of time the next day to finish the up and then head back to the car, as most people hike faster on the downhill than they do on the uphill. 🙂
Eat a good breakfast to give you enough energy for the stairs, and drink plenty of water (especially if it's raining - we tend to forget to hydrate ourselves if there's water all around us).
And, most importantly, don't forget to come back and share photos of your accomplishment! 🙂 Happy trails!