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bmt thru hike/at lash/ft bastian.chapter 1- springer to blue ridge

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  • i started from springer mountain on my 57th birthday, april 10th. The night before i had stayed at hiker hostel in dahlonega. everyone there was doing the appalachian trail. they mostly had that wide eyed "what am i getting myself into ?"look, but most were equipped fairly decently. i helped one guy lose some pack weight as his pack was close to 60 lbs with food and water. he had an arctryx mountaineering pack that weighed 7lbs alone!his sleeping pad weighed over 3 lbs and he was carrying 3 sets of clothes,plus raingear.i told him he should consider replacing his pack and pad at neels gap, helped him eliminate some other stuff he didnt need.
    i also met shea,who was wearing a ny mets cap, and lives just a few towns away from me in ny. i would run into shea again several times during the course of my hike. he's still on the trail, making miles.
    the benton mackaye trail starts just a few hundred yards from the at terminus.it intersects the at 4 times before turning westward. about 4 miles after the last intersection i came upon a young hiker whos seemed a bit disoriented. "the appalachian trail does intersect this trail again, doesn't it?"I explained he had missed the last cutoff some 4 miles baack, and doesnt hit the at again till fontana dam.he cursed and said"they should mark these trails better."
    i laughed, wished him luck and continued down the trail.
    the first 2 nights i camped with 4 other hikers, all former thrus, 3 in their 60s and one, 72 yrs old, out doing a section of the bmt..they all hung their food way too low, while i slept with mine, securely in my tent.the third day, i left them behind at shackleford road, during a grueling 3.9 roadwalk, the longest of my trip.they ended getting off the trail,due to one hikers foot issues.
    at the end of the roadwalk, i continued into the woods for less than a mile and came to a nice campsite near some falls. there were a few weekenders camped low on the hill, and i found a spot farther up, away from the others.
    the following morning i packed early and continued down the trail. my hips were sore from my hipbelt and stupid new shirt i had bought. it was an under armour shirt with mesh sides and back, which i thought would be great for backpacking. instead my hipbelt kept pressing the raw seams into my hips, and they were getting rubbed raw.
    it was hot, and there was a service station convenience store 1.3 m off the trail, so i decided to hitch a ride their, get a cold soda and some more snacks, and get a ride back to the trail.
    well, i ended up walking to the station, passing benton mackaye headquarters along the way, which was unmanned.
    i got to the station and got a cold bottle of mountain dew. as i sat outside drinking my soda, i looked at my hips and saw they were raw. i considered hitching into blue ridge and taking a zero, and at that moment a pickup truck pulled into the station. the driver asked where i was hiking, and after i told him, he told me his wife had wanted to thru hike the at, and we struck up a great conversation about hiking. i asked if he would give me aride into blue ridge and he told me to throw my pack in the pickup bed, brought me to a motel.i thanked him and checked in.
    i found some second skin at the dollar general in town, and proceeded to paint my wounded hips, then covered them with gauze.on my way back from the store i happened to notice someone walking by in raingear, wearing the same shoes as me, and made a mental note. it was raining, so i didnt speak to him. the following day, it was rainy and cold, and i knew i needed to take a zero. i went to the motel office to pay or an additional night and arrange a shuttle back to the trail the following day.
    on the way, i saw the man with my shoes standing in the doorway to his room. i asked him if he was hiking the bmt, and he asked how i knew. i told him it was the shoes, noone wears lasportivas except climbers and backpackers. he laughed. arius is originally from lithuania, now lives in hilton head,sc.he thru hiked in 2010, and broke his ankle during his 2nd attempt in 2012.
    we talked trails and immediately bonded. had a great time trading stories, but he was hitting the trail again that day.the motel manager, who was shuttling him came by 3 times to see if he wanted to leave, and the 3rd time, arius finally said goodbye. i met him again at trail days in damascus.great guy.
    the next day, my hips were feeling well enough for me to put my pack back on, so i shuttled back to the trail to continue north.
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    its all good

    1,833 times read

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