As I lay in the lodge looking out the window a wild raging wind arose. Construction tape outside flew about like it was being chased by wild animals. It promised a cold day .
A hot breakfast would be the last for awhile. By 8:45 we were on the trail. Jan Haney, Pam Hembree, Joe Gavalda and I climbed steadily and it was not long before we were shedding clothing.
At about a mile we were passed by five through hikers. Uh oh. One was Silver Bullet who was a lawyer from Maine. Before we knew it he was gone and I was very much feeling the 38.5 pounds on by back.
We managed to climb steadily and finished the 7.8 miles to the summit. I have pictures of all of this but have been unable to upload them. Springer Mountain is a rather nondescript place.. A monument…well two of them… declaring this spot to be the beginning of the AT. A picture and conversation with a few day hikers and we were off for the final .7 mile to our vehicle. The time came quickly. We were there…..a time to leave friends… a time to begin the trek alone. All three of them shared a prayer. I absorbed every word while quietly adding my own prayer for the strength to survive this journey.
I knew if I stayed with them longer I would hesitate. I once went bungee jumping with Whitney and Tory. As I stood on the edge of the platform I hesitated. Soon I felt myself falling backwards. It was all I could do to make the leap. I couldn’t let that happen. I took a step and then two and then….. I was gone.
I hiked down the trail and was soon alone. It was pleasant but what I felt was my first lonely. When I reached Stover Shelter it was packed so I hiked on along another mile and a half to a quiet spot at three forks 4.3 miles on the AT. It was freezing. I set up my tent and got out my sleeping bag. Sweet and sour pork for dinner with cocoa. Not the Steak House but it would have to do.
It was time to crawl into the bag. Sadly I own two bags. One works and the other has a broken zipper. Guess which one I had…. I froze on my first night!!