March 4, 1998

3/4/98 Hawk Mountain Shelter

7.5 miles (7.7 total)

What a great day, but it started out very cold. Jesse had planned on hiking with me for the first three days, getting picked up in Suches, Georgia. I didn’t have any more of those first day jitters yesterday because I was too worried about Jesse and the weather. I was able to convince him on hiking the trail back to the car at the Visitor Center. Because of the cold weather, he really wasn’t prepared. Jesse had lived in Atlanta these last four years, but he just didn’t imagine it would snow in Georgia.

The hose to my water bag froze last night, but it was a sunny morning. I hoped the sun would be with us all day. Within an hour on the trail, I was taking clothing layers off. And the melting snow made the trail a little muddy. I passed the kilt-wearing Scotsmen soon after leaving the shelter. Brodder was in a lot of pain because of a twisted ankle. If that wasn’t bad enough, both men had packs that had to weight over 80 pounds. I wished them good luck.

Snore Bear watching us leave Springer Mountain Shelter

Today, walking the path through the forest, I really got the feeling of the "green tunnel" the books talk about. The trail was easy to follow and not as strenuous as yesterday. Walked a bit with Treasure, Gypsy Man, and Planting Flowers, who is also from the AT98 list. She recognized me because I always signed my e-mail with my trail-name, Dragon’s Breath. Along the way, we stopped at Long Creek Falls to take pictures. Gypsy Man is a south-bound thru-hiker that started 7 months ago.

Someone left a whole bag of cheerios in Stover Creek shelter

Because of deep snow in Tennessee, he flip-flopped to Springer to do his last 400 miles northward. Gypsy Man seems friendly, good-natured, and doesn’t seem to mind our questions. Whenever we took a break, he would tell us things he had already learned while on the trail. Planting Flowers is a 24-year old from New Hampshire and is very enthusiastic about her thru-hike. Treasure is from Louisiana and only plans to hike up to Hot Springs, North Carolina, where her VW van is waiting. Believe it or not, her real name is Treasure.

Treasure standing in front of Long Creek Falls

We all spent a very relaxing afternoon and evening at the Hawk Mountain Shelter. I had planned on hiking farther, but decided just to take it easy. I had thousands of miles ahead of me. A few of the younger guys I had met last night seemed eager to put in big miles from day one. Gypsy Man built a fire and tried to explain some of the eating rituals he had developed on the trail. Even though the timber-framed shelter had plenty of room, Planting Flowers and myself put up our tents, each for our own reasons. I know I snore, and hope not to alienate other hikers.

As I write this by flashlight, it’s 40-degrees outside and overcast with a real possibility of rain. At 8:00, it’s just about time for bed. I still find it hard to believe this trail goes all the way to Maine.