The Grand Slam Plan! adventure – Phase 2 – The Appalachian Trail

This update is a long time in coming with at least two more to get caught up, so it may be a little sketchy. Also, today is May 26 but I’m pre-dating the post to be closer with the narrative.

As mentioned in other writings this format takes longer and is tough to keep up with because of battery challenges, spotty cell coverage, and weather. As I write a thunderstorm is about to hit so I’m crawling into my tent!

After renting a car I arrived in Jasper, Georgia in the middle of the day on April 9. Then a trip to Walmart and phone calls trying to get a shuttle to Amicolola Falls. It boiled down to expensive or ride the roadster which I had stowed in the trunk just in case. The route looked easy enough and I figured to be there by dark.

With Google’s help I headed out, got turned around, went 10 miles out of the way, got back on track, ran out of daylight, and had to pitch my tent on the side of the road for the evening. Next day the incline was so steep I couldn’t even ride the roadster pushing it up hill for 4 or 5 miles.

Finally toping out and knowing the Falls were just an hour away going downhill – the fog rolled in and the rain started on a narrow two lane. Tough situation because stopping would be just as bad as going on. Fortunately, the weather let up about the time I was nearing Amicolola.

Finally arriving at Amicolola Falls around 2 in the afternoon I headed for the short AT orientation that comes with registering as an AT through hiker. Then went back to the picnic area to assess my pack and prepare to head out.

Since I was loaded for my trip to Cape Girardeau I had a lot of extra weight. The pack weighed 70 lbs and by now it was 4 in the afternoon and I’m thinking I need to at least head for a nearby campsite. An alternate route landed me at the top of the Falls and finally to a campsite another half mile down the trail.

Tomorrow me and the backpack would have a “come-to-Jesus” and hopefully I could drop several pounds. I got the tent up just before the rain started and the wind howled all night like no other time on the AT so far. The next day was a steady rain into the afternoon not really stopping until after 5pm. So I still didn’t get to reorganize until the day after that. Finally, the next morning, I did cull out some things but then had to backtrack the half mile to the top of the Falls so I could dispose of the excess using the public trash cans.

Finally, I turned around and headed up the approach trail in earnest. The backpack was still too heavy, probably 50-55 lbs. The fact is, even though I’m in pretty good physical condition, I haven’t been backpacking in 45 years. The weight wasn’t too much to handle but of course it slowed me down right off the bat. The rest of the equation is that while I backpacked in scouts quite a bit, all the tricks and routines and shortcuts you take to loose even more weight all had to be relearned. I’m still looking at what equipment I might replace.

Georgia was tough. Folks talk about the approach trail but it didn’t seem any worse than the rest. The good news is that I lost body weight faster than pack weight dropping two waste sizes by the time I got to North Carolina. That helps alot because it’s easier to keep the pack weight on the hip belt rather than my shoulders without all that belly getting in the way.

©2024 – Jim Casey