Friday, August 9, 2013
Start: Bryson Gap | Finish: Springer Mountain | Miles: 11.6 | Total: 286.8
This was my earliest day to get on the trail, at 7:45 am. Must be champing at the bit *. Again, this was all very familiar ground, and I seemed to cover it in no time! The closer I got to Springer, the more people I began to see. Several tents and early morning sunrise hikers around Long Creek Falls (where I camped next to the waterfall on my Amicalola to Neels Gap solo a few years ago). Several trucks were parked at Three Forks. As I was getting water at Three Forks, a few feet off trail, three hiker dudes with full packs passed me going the other way, but I did not get a chance to talk to them. Probably AT guys.
Just after Big Stamp Gap I talked to a day hiker who was looking for wild blueberries. He remarked about how green they were at this time of summer, considering the amount of rain we’ve had. About five minutes later a stiff cold wind blew in, the sky darkened, and it began to pour.
I was able to shuffle my electronics on to their ziplocks without too much exposure, but by the time I pulled my poncho out and got my pack back on, there seemed to be little point in donning it. I walked on in the rain with my poncho in my hand. The drops were huge and cold! But sure enough, the rain lasted less than ten minutes and the sun was beaming through the trees once again
I stopped at the overlook, The last of the rest stops before Springer. I was sure I had bypassed this on my last BMT hike, but it seemed so familiar that I must have done it before. Good distant view – one of maybe four on the BMT.
Thirty minutes later I was at the end. This point on the trail is about as anti-climactic as it can get. There is no sign announcing “Southern Terminus” – although there did appear to be a post for it. The BMT simply dead-ends into (or branches from, depending on your travel direction) the Appalachian Trail, and that’s it. There is a bronze Benton Mackaye memorial plaque a few yards from the trail intersection.
After some selfies, I hiked to the privy, and then to the shelter, never having checked that out. It’s a good shelter, large, with several camp site clearings as well. I’m sure this place can get crowded in March and April. Two hikers from Florida (it’s always Florida or Nashville…) were there with their dogs. They offered me their food – they had lugged way too much of it up the mountain, and told how grateful they were that their dog’s paw was injured so that they could get a shuttle ride down the next day rather than hike back the 9 miles to their car!
Next stop Springer Mountain summit itself, to sign the register, take some more photos. I chatted with a couple from Dunwoody (suburban Atlanta) who were out for a 4.5 mile AT/BMT loop. They whipped out their 1-inch thick “50 Hikes” book to show me the route. They offered me a ride to Amicalola if I had not found one by the time they finished.
By the time I got to the Springer parking lot .9 miles from the summit, it was 2:30. 1:15 was my official hike finish time. There was a group of young people, mid-late 20’s, just finishing up a short day hike. I chatted them up saying I was “trying to find a ride” down to Amicalola (see how I didn’t ask directly?) They were not hikers so I did not know if they would be attuned to the “it’s all good” vibe of hikers helping hikers. Fortunately they were very much attuned to the “it’s all good” vibe in general, and one of the couples gave me a ride.
There is no way they were old enough to have been in to NIN when it originally came out, but the CD the girl pulled out of the player was Pretty Hate Machine (1989). Even if they were over 30, they would have been in grade school when this came out. I guess that’s like me going through a Yes phase in high school, or discovering The Clash well after Rock the Casbah. The next CD she put in was Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” – also one of my favorite albums. They talked about having seen them live at Bonnaroo – and the whole vibe I mentioned earlier started to fall in to place. They were Bonnarites! The four friends were originally from Tampa, but had dispersed to Tennessee and Georgia looking for work in construction. This couple had landed in Nashville (see?) and were driving through Atlanta to see friends etc. on their way, presumably, back to Florida. Then they played Pretty Lights, to underscore that I’m old and out of touch. Not bad, though.
They dropped me off at my car. By now it was 4:30. With no GPS we ended up taking a long way out of the woods. They decided to stay and check out the falls, and I headed home. With a stop in Dawsonville for a steak and potato. It was probably 7:45 when I arrived back at home. Somehow I did not get to sleep till 2AM that night.