Taste of the Appalachian Trail

By Clotilde Castillo
Feb 3 2012

The Appalachian TrailAfter a round of wet and rainy days, we finally enjoyed a sunny weekend that called for some outdoor adventure. It was impossible to resist the call of the mountains, so we headed north to Springer Mountain for a short hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Once you arrive on Forest Service Road, the asphalt gives way to gravel, however the road was in good condition and it was an easy four miles or so all the way to the Springer Mountain parking lot.

Even though it was cold, there were also other hikers and mountain bikers enjoying the beautiful day. We arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon, had something to eat before starting and then headed to the Appalachian Trail. Our plan was to walk as much as we could while resisting the cold and the weight of our camera equipment.

While walking through the leafless woods, I couldn't stop but thinking about how beautiful this place must be during the summer or fall, nevertheless there is a quiet beauty during the winter season with the sun shining through the branches, while your steps are followed by the sound of crunching leaves. You also have a better appreciation of the slope of the hills and the height of the trees.

After maybe a mile and a half, we encountered our first creek. For me it's so exciting to find a stream of water that must be crossed. The child in me considers this the indication that I am on a real outdoor adventure. At this point we decided to take our first 360 photo. You feel that it is necessary to take photos at every single beautiful spot, like if you are never going to find something like that again, but this is never true with nature.

After finishing our first panorama, we met a couple with their friendly dog. We told them that this was our first time on this trail and they shared our excitement and encouraged us to keep walking, with the promise of more amazing scenery.

We continued our hike, encountering more people and ice crystals frozen along the slopes of the hills until we found a shelter inhabited by a soft spoken woman with her dog, she and her husband arrived the day before. They started their journey a week ago from Amicalola on their way to Virginia. She was waiting for her husband, who left for Dahlonega on foot at 8:30 in the morning to find supplies and a new pair of boots for her. They were making their way to Virginia through the Appalachian Trail since their car broke down in Florida.

After saying good bye to Darla, wishing her best and hoping in our hearts for better times for them, we kept walking for another hour and encountered areas so dense with large pines and magnolias you felt like inside a green tunnel. Occasionally the sound of a woodpecker broke the silence.

After crossing a short bridge above the river, we end our Sunday adventure at a very nice spot where we share our second 360 view. Here with light fading, we decided that was time to walk back to our car. Now we could feel the weight of our equipment and at moments we wondered if we were still in our right track, not remembering sections of the trail from another angle. 

We can not wait for the Spring to start. It will be a different experience, with warmer weather and a forest canopy darkened with new leaves.