#2 Thru-Hiking the AT: Springer Mountain to Nantahala Outdoor Center

ABOVE: Chris at the southern AT Terminus–Springer Mountain

2015 Appalachian Trail Log #2
Originally posted on April 19, 2015
Posted by Great Miami Outfitters

Chris started his AT Thru-Hike on April 7th, 2015. We received this update on Sunday, April 19th. We will post Chris’ updates as soon as we receive them.

#2. Springer Mountain to Nantahala Outdoor Center

The hike is well underway–I’m 137.5 miles in (6.8% complete).

I hiked the 8.8 mile approach trail from Amicalola Falls State Park to the top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT on April 7th. Pack weighed 36 lbs with water and food for 4 days. The next 3 days took me to Neel’s Gap–famous junction on AT with outfitter, food, pack shakedowns. I topped off food to get me to Dick’s Creek Gap–3 days away. A church group hosted a hiker feed and we all walked away stuffed. I really had to work hard to finish my potato salad.

A couple days later at Unicoi Gap, a military family who had lost 4 family members from all 4 Services hosted an amazing Trail Magic feed. Food, drink, resupply, recharge, postal service–goes on and on. I stayed for 1.5 hours eating, talking, and eating–amazing pasta salad!

At Dick’s Creek Gap, I stayed at a hostel, the “Top of Georgia” owned and operated by Sir Packs-a-Lot (a triple crowner). Great hostel. We filled the hostel with many hikers I’ve got to know. Showered, reset pack, laundry, shuttled to town for AYCE at Daniel’s buffet for $8.

ABOVE: Tent camp on mountain top

The next morning, I set out for Nantahala Outdoor Center, a 5 day, 70 mile hike. Rained a lot over those 5 days but the temps were cool so that was nice. I hiked a couple back-to-back 16+ mile days and my feet started to show signs (hot spots, rubs, gonna lose a couple toe nails). Boots get so wet and nasty there is really no way around it, not to mention the repeated wet socks you put back on. So much rain, much of the trail is like hiking in peanut butter.

Foot management is a big deal–band aids, duct tape, foot glide, neosporin, etc. The last night on the trail before arriving at NOC, I hiked an 11 mile day which made me an early arrival for a small shelter–I knew it was going to rain over night. Most of the day I kept seeing human footprints in the mud. I was told the barefoot hiker had just left the shelter a few minutes before I got there–I still haven’t met him.

ABOVE: Last night in shelter before NOC

Very nice shelter stay with 5 others–Pom Pom, Melissa, Corky, Tom Selleck, and Ambush. Ambush hung his hammock in the shelter entry. Quick pack the next morning and an 11.5 mile, 3000 ft descent into NOC. First stop was pizza and onion rings at Rivers Edge Diner–great food. Taking a zero day to relax and recover; staying in the hostel. Today there’s a possibility of 5 inches of rain–glad to have a roof today! Will hike out of NOC Monday and head for Fontana (2 days), then, enter the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (5 days).

ABOVE: Nantahala Outdoor Center Bridge


Rained sometime during the day 75% of time, temps ranges from low 40s to low 80s.

Some Hiker Names:

Stink Jacket, Turbo, Schmedrick, Pom Pom, Big Sky, Tunes, Detox, Highlighter, Grip, Slow and Steady, Scribe, Red Pepper, Kamikaze, Spudz, Possible, Old Dog, Jedi, Corky, Trolley. For now, I’m still Chris.

Trail Story:

Slow and Steady (SNS) has a confirmed story because she was in a small tent camp with 4 others. She used a bivy sack. A bivy sack is a very small, coffin-like shelter that is just big enough to fit a person in a sleeping bag–not for the claustrophobic. One evening a bear came into camp and gave the bivy a few good sniffs. SNS built up the courage to shout at the bear and it left. Shortly after, wild boars came through camp and they visited SNS; again later another bear or the same bear stopped by to check out SNS.

The next morning they were all talking about events last night. SNS had a swollen arm. One of the guys had a Brown Recluse Spider on his water bottle. A Navy nurse was in camp and suspected it to be a spider bite. SNS took nearest route of trail and was treated for Brown Recluse bite–they caught it very early. She recovered a few days in town and then headed back to trail, this time with a tent, where I met her and got to hear the story at the same time as a couple others were there that same night it all happened.

Next Zero:

The northern end of the GSMNP, about 100 miles from NOC. The GSMNP terminates where I-40 cuts through the mountains between NC/TN. My wife will pick me up there and go back to her Mom’s house. We both grew up very close to this area.

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