Day One, March 22nd. 

Song in my head: We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters. The obvious reason for this song is not why it’s rattling around up there. Before we left for the trail I had watched the movie 1408. If you have seen the film you know I get to keep my man-card. 

Our hike was from the Approach Trail to Springer Mt Shelter. We gained about 3500 feet over 9.0 miles. We started at 8:45 and ended at 3:30 pm, for a total of 6 hours and 45 minutes. Last mile to Springer was very tough. We are tired but fine. Springer shelter has 2 privies, multiple campsites, shelter, water source and bear cables for hanging our food bags. 
The wind howled all night. At first I thought it was the sound of semis driving down a highway. The problem was the freeway seemed to be getting closer and closer as the night progressed until the freeway was just outside our tent. 
Day two, March 23
7.1 miles Springer mountain Shelter to Hawk Mountain Campsite. Site is huge and spread out with 30 tent areas spaced very nicely. Bear boxes, privy and water source too. Hike start and stop – 9:05 – 1:45. 
Day three, March 24
Weary legs wobbly, but they don’t fall down; no they just keep walking.
8.4 miles from Hawk Mountain tent site to Gooch Mountain shelter. Left at 9am arrived at 3. Sassafras should be renamed Sassy Ass. A very tough climb for me. 
Day four, March 25
Song in my head: Oh, oh it’s Magic
Strolled 8.6 miles from Gooch Mountain Shelter to Lance Creek restoration area. Bear cables tent sites and great water source. Felt strong all day for the first time.
Two instances of trail magic today, breakfast and lunch. We knew breakfast was coming as the angel came through camp the night before letting everyone know. Lunch was unexpected and awesome. Burgers dogs chips and all the fixings. 
Rained for hours in the early morning, but woke to and walked in fog but dry. 
Day 5, March 26
7.2 lance creek to Neels Gap. 7:50-1:50. 6 hours. 
Took down a wet tent and hiked in drizzle all day. Blood mountain was a tough one. Both going up and coming down. Great end though at blood mountain cabins. Hot water, a small shop with pizza and wings and sundry items. Free laundry they do for you. Yippee. 
Song in my head: Vampires by Meat Puppets. It’s just a spooky looking day. 
Day 6, March 27
Neel (or Neels. I, like apparently everyone else, use the two interchangeably) Gap to Whitley Shelter. 9:30 – 2:30 6.7 miles (7.9 total). Easy day. 
Song in my head today: College by Matt the Electrition. Particularly the lyric, “he’s got a Gatorade bottle where he goes pee and your behind him with your college degree.” I’ll let you make your own inference. 
My shelter log entry today: I spent $100 just browsing at Mountain crossings. 
Supposed to rain tonight, bring it on. (It did not rain)
Day 7, March 28

Whitley Gap to Poplar Stamp Gap. 6.2 7.4. They should change the name of Poplar Stamp to Popular Stamp. This unofficial campsite has room for three tents and a campfire. 
We are 10 tents and 2 hammocks strong tonight. Chica and I arrived early and set up our tent. About an hour later a posse of testosterone permeates the space; I dub them the Bro Bros. We are treated to hours of talk of miles, gear and grams. 
On a positive note tomorrow is just an 8 mile hike and a shuttle will pick us up to take us into town for 2 nights and a full day of rest. No rain forecast for tonight. 
My shelter entry when we stopped for lunch: AT Mantra, “Just one more mountain.”
Great first week. 

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