Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hiking the Lists, #6: Springer Mountain and Benton Mackaye Legacy Loop

Hike: #6
Title: Springer Mountain and Benton Mackaye Legacy Loop
Location: Springer Mountain and surrounding land, Chattahoochee National Forest
Hike List: North Georgia Mountains
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
Duration of Hike: A few tough hours

This marks the first of the hikes in this feature to already have been written about before. There isn't much in the way of specifics to add to her tale. In short, the hike is well worth your time, is moderately challenging, and lets you say you were a section hiker on two different long distance trails on the same day. Since time has passed since that hike, I thought I would add a few additional thoughts.

December of 2012 was the last time I was fortunate enough to be down in the North Georgia Mountains. Most of this is not by choice, as not having the income to go, and then not having the time when you do have the income, makes it pretty hard to get down there. In addition, living about eleven or so hours (at the least) from there means I can't just pop down for a weekend like I have in Michigan and Wisconsin.

That hike was the second time I made it up to that magical place atop Springer, and there is scarcely a day my thoughts don't hike back up there. It's not the prettiest vista in the North Georgia Mountains, but it certainly is an important one. Besides being the physical beginning of the Applachian Trail, it is the symbolic beginning as well. It symbolizes the potential of accomplishing something, of getting out on that trail and just hiking. Even if that hike is thousands of miles away from Springer, and is only a mile or two, it still is in my mind. When I do attempt a thru-hike, it likely won't be the actual point my journey begins. The romantic that I am I will likely start on the approach trail from Amicalola. The pragmatist in me might consider breaking the hike in two, and doing Harper's Ferry to Springer, then Harper's Ferry to Katahdin. And least likely of all I could begin the journey at Katahdin. However, that would likely happen only if I somehow lost my mind.

The great thing about this loop hike was that in addition to seeing where the trail that Benton Mackaye dreamed up starts, it also takes you on the first three miles of the trail named after him. This was the second long distance trail that I (knowingly) have walked part of, and one I may attempt some day. It was an interesting challenge, and at times was beautiful, even if I only saw three miles of it that day. I'm glad that most of it was hiked in light, especially the more interesting parts.

I'm glad that it got dark when I was hiking this trail, as it gave me a chance to try hiking in the dark*. It wasn't so bad with my trusty headlamp. Granted, the part I was walking (an old road bed followed by flat trails back to the parking lot) wasn't too difficult. Still, I had plenty of light, and I was able to get where I was going. It gave me a chance to do something I had never done, and show that I have the ability to hike in less than ideal circumstances. After all the best way to know if you can do something is to actually do it.

* I'm talking about the part where I got to walk in the woods after dark. Not the part where Erin took a wrong turn, thought she was lost, and got scared. That part sucked.

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