The first 16 miles of the
Appalachian Trail

WWWW 2006 Trip
Days 1 & 2 - Springer Mountain to Hickory Flatts Cemetery
May 3 & 4, 2006
On May 3rd PanamaRob and I left Panama City Beach, Florida early in the morning… but
I would come to find out later that day that we didn’t leave early enough.  I needed
to buy some food that morning as well as stop at REI in Atlanta to get some fuel for my
stove.  Rob took me on a short tour of Eufala National Wildlife Refuge because he
thought we would have time.  Well, it turns out that we didn’t, and so began our crazy
day.  When we got to Atlanta Rob took the wrong exit trying to find The Varsity, which is
apparently the world’s largest drive-in.  After a bunch of wrong turns we found the
drive-in and quickly ate a couple of greasy chili dogs and French fries.  I couldn’t even
eat the fries because they were so greasy and the chili dogs did not agree well with me
and I think I actually had an allergic reaction to an ingredient in them.   Then we got lost
trying to find the REI.  After a bunch more wrong turns we finally found the REI and
after buying my fuel I discovered that my left eye was all red so I had to run back into
the store to take out my contacts.  By then we were really late and to add to the insult
we ran into rush hour traffic leaving Atlanta.  Once we escaped Atlanta we got turned
around trying to find the Forest Service road that would take us to the Springer
Mountain Trailhead.  Then a wild turkey flew in front of Rob’s Jeep and having no
time to react, he hit it.  We turned around to see if the turkey was okay but it had
hobbled off into a black berry thicket.  We then got back in the Jeep and continued on
and needless to say I was very frustrated by the afternoon’s events.  I was very
glad when we found the trailhead, despite the fact that by then it was almost dark and
we had to hike the rocky trail up to the Springer Mountain Shelter.  I don’t like
hiking in an area in the dark, especially in an unfamiliar area.

But we found the shelter soon enough and found the other WWWW gals camped in a
tenting area nearby. I apologized for being so late and they were glad that I showed up!  
They had been worried about my whereabouts.  Jane had tried my cell phone and I had
left a message on hers but she hadn’t gotten the message.  Well, anyway, I set up my
tent and I filtered some water at the spring near the shelter and hung my food sack on
the provided bear cables.  I heard some strange animal noises as I was trying to go to
sleep and I think we deduced it was a screech owl.  Once it quieted down I slept well and
in the morning woke up to a heavy dew covering my tent and everything around it.

After cooking breakfast we all packed up and headed first up to the summit of Springer
Mountain.  Springer Mountain is the official beginning (or end, for some) of the
Appalachian Trail (AT).  We signed the summit register and we took some pictures and
talked to a couple of guys who were beginning their thru-hike of the trail including a man
named Jonah from Israel.  We then headed the mile or so down to the trailhead, and
there we said goodbye to PanamaRob who was going to be out exploring on his own for a
few days and then we re-grouped and headed out on the trail.

Swallowtail, who is from Eufala, Georgia, organized this 2006 WWWW hike.  She did a
great job but unfortunately couldn’t hike most of the trail with us as she was nursing
a knee injury.  So she drove a lot, meeting us at designated places where the AT crosses
a Forest Service Road.  Unlike most trails I have backpacked before, by no means is this
part of the AT in the wilderness.  There are roads every couple of miles.  The scenery is
great, though.  I particularly enjoyed the myriad of spring wildflowers!

The first few miles of the AT are mostly flat or downhill and the trail follows an old road
bed for much of the way.  We met a thru-hiker at Stover Creek where we stopped to
take a break.  He was wearing blue jeans and smoking a cigarette…  I’m not sure
he’s going to make it all the way to Maine!  We met Swallowtail at Three Forks and
took a short break there.  We then hiked on to Long Creek Falls where we ate lunch and
filtered some water.  It began to sprinkle then pour rain so we quickly packed up and
just as we started on the trail again the rain let off.  What a abrupt and rude ending to
our lunch :p

About a mile or so up the trail we arrived at our camping spot for the night…  Hickory
Flatts Cemetary.  I was surprised to see a picnicking pavilion and bathrooms at the
cemetery.  I asked if it was some sort of southern tradition to picnic and have a
barbeque at a cemetery?  Hmmmm…  But it was a pleasant place to stay the night.  No
ghosts came out to haunt us, as far as I could tell.    We all enjoyed the wine and cheese
that Swallowtail had brought and in the evening took a walk down a Forest Service Road
which added another mile or so to our total for the day.  In total we hiked about 7 miles
that first day.
Catesby's Trillium? above and below
Lily Family
View from Springer Mountain, Georgia
WWWW 2006 Hikers
Left to right -  Lynn, Swallowtail, DyanTX, me
(Sequoia), JaneC, MadCow, BettyK
Me on Springer Mountain
Lynn reading the summit log
MadCow and DyanTX admire the view
Cool trees and rocks on Springer
DyanTX and BettyK (and JaneC, below) make
their way down Springer Mountain
Crested dwarf iris and blue violet
Iris and Violet Families
Pink Lady's Slipper
Orchid Family
Black Cohosh or Mountain Bugbane
Buttercup Family
Star Chickweed
Pink Family
Thanks to Woodswoman who helped me identify many of these flowers!
Large Flowered Trillium
Sometimes the forest is open
Sometime's it's dark and mysterious
Long Creek Falls
Filtering water
Have you ever camped in a cemetery?
The headstones that we could read were from the 1800's
Flame Azalea above
Eastern Dogwood below