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First Backpacking Experience

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I'm not sure where I became interested in backpacking. I guess I got a wild hair. Nobody I knew did this. I've just always loved the woods, and this was the best thing I could come up with for full immersion if you will. It's a little crazy, and that's my thing. It only took so long to act on because I had no idea where to start. There are no long distance trails where I grew up in East Texas. I've visited numerous state and national parks where I've done day hiking but never with weight. The idea was terrifying! I'm 5'4... what if I fall over? Those packs are huge! Who will go with me? What if I get raped or mauled? All of these negative things flowed freely in my ever anxious mind. At long last, a friend showed interest in taking a trip with me to the mountains! When I set my heart on something and it seems attainable... man I go all out. I bought gear books, and guides, and poured through forums/magazines/retailer websites. I just had to find the right balance between quality and price. I wanted gear that would last but not spend a bajillion dollars! I spent about 6 months doing this, and made one big purchase a month until I had the essentials. I was ready to go! What I didn't research too much was the beginning of the thru-hiker season where we would be starting (Amicalola) so as it turns out, my buddy postponing on me twice turned out for the best!

Originally, we said April... then May... and finally hit the trail in early June! This was perfect. There were people out there to learn from but the shelters were open! My friend isn't really a people person, so that worked. (She's friendly enough, just really bad at making small talk with strangers and tries to avoid them.) Anyways, so off to Amicalola! We took the customary pictures under the arch and began the approach trail. She said 12 miles a day, and I said 8 tops because I know I'm out of shape! Sure enough, we were about DYING by the time we hit that first shelter! It was maybe 6-7 miles in and was already getting dark! The mountain was killing us on day one! There were a couple of pitched tents but not a soul was using the shelter. We both had tents but since it had sprinkled on us pretty much all day, we figured we would stay in the shelter and not deal with the rain flies in the dark. Laugh if you will, YES, we pitched tents IN the shelter hahaha it was our first night backpacking! We didn't know that wasn't a thing! I felt like it was a lil' weird but oh well... no snakes or bugs! (If someone else had come in the night, there was still plenty of room between our tents on either far end.) Of course it poured all night, but I didn't mind. That's the most relaxing sound.

Day two was a little easier! We knocked out a whopping 8 something miles! (Wishing I had written this down months ago so I could remember shelter names. Hawk Mountain maybe?) There was plenty of water (it WAS raining). We started out with iodine tablets... disgusting! I couldn't drink another sip of that awful stuff and decided to wing it with the spring water. I realize this is discouraged but I like to live dangerous and seeing as I (TMI WARNING) next to never poo... what's a little explosive diarrea to me? Do me a favor, right!? Yea.. so no such luck. The water was amazeballs everywhere I got it from, and since it was everywhere, I hardly had to carry much at a time. Friend remained leary and continued to drink the iodine. I don't remember which day was day but I do remember some jungle-looking woods along a river and some logs that we walked over to cross water and took some fun pictures. The rain didn't really bother either of us while we were moving. It felt nice and you're rather wet from sweat or the rain, either way. On day three sometime, we hit Cooper's Gap and decided we were ready for a shower and real food. We smelled TERRIBLE! As Cooper's Gap is out in the middle of nowhere on a forest service road, we were having to wait hours for a shuttle (yea... I didn't research that either). After calling probably 10 people, we finally got ahold of the Hiker Hostel who runs a shuttle but it would be 2 hours. A very sweet teacher couple offered a ride down out of the mountains! Oh. My. Goodness! We couldn't believe they wanted to haul two sweaty stranger girls in their VERY nice SUV. After a rough winding mountain road trip (I get carsick!), they dropped us at this convenient store near Dahlonega. Now that was FATE because I had found THE BEST BBQ attached to it. Hickory Prime, get the pork fries! You'll thank me! We called the hostel and asked them to just snag us from there whenever they could. The hostel is a whole other story to be continued......

Updated 10-27-2016 at 15:13 by JessNicole3608

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