Sunday, April 10, 2016
Approach Trail 7.3 to AT 7.4 – 8.9 miles
We survived a 22˚ night! Woohoo! That instant coffee sure tasted good. I had heard that the MSR PocketRocket stoves didn’t do very well in extremely cold weather, so we slept with the canister in our bag and Ben cooked us up a great breakfast of oatmeal, hot chocolate, and coffee. We also slept with our water in our bags, so it wasn’t frozen either. We got a bit of a late start out of our camp that morning, it was well after nine when we set off for Springer.
I can’t remember the exact time we made it to the summit, but it sure was rewarding. It was cold, windy, and exhilarating. I was surprised to see a young woman sitting in a chair; apparently she has a paid position as a Trail Ambassador/Trail Runner. She asked about the shelter we stayed at the night before and how far we were going. She was extremely friendly and took our photo. We signed the register, located IN the rock behind the plaque, and spent a few minutes feeling good about ourselves, and took our first steps on the AT!
On this day, we met quite a few day hikers (there is a parking area about a mile past the summit). The Benton Mackeye Trail intersected the AT in quite a few places, which proved to be interesting as I had to go to bathroom through this area! It seemed everywhere I was looking to go, there was an intersection! But there just came a time where I didn’t care and took care of business.
As we continued, we found quite a delightful area to have lunch in. Delightful isn’t a word I normally use, but this area was straight out of Bambi – a babbling brook, lined with evergreen rhododendrons, and the trail meandered up the ridge. It was a great place to eat, and refill our water.
After lunch, Lindsey caught up with us. She set a good pace, so we hung with her the rest of the way to the Hawk Mountain Campsite. and go there around 5:o0. This campsite was relatively new. We were fortunate in that we were among the first to arrive for the day, and were able to secure the 2nd spot, which was on the close end to the AT. At this camp, there was a community bear canister and a privy – both located just a short walk from our tent site. We got our tents set up, and Lindsey came up and ate with us that evening. Another early night, we were in our tent ready for bed at 6:30!