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  1. #1
    Registered User Slow n' Steady's Avatar
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    Default To hike Amicalola or.not? Please advise

    As I plan my 2013 thru hike, I find that I am debating with myself about where to begin. I would like to hear from you about your experience at the start of your thru hike or section hike on Springer. What advice can you give me for the best possible start? Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Its not worthy of "debate". Adds one day to your trip. Despite what some claim, its not any harder than anything else you'll see in Georgia. I've always said do whatever is easier for the person dropping you off. Moot point if you are using a shuttler. I'm starting at AFSP as I don't want to worry about my relatively inexperienced son driving back alone on the forest service road. It really doesn't matter what you decide to do.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    . I've always said do whatever is easier for the person dropping you off. Moot point if you are using a shuttler.
    This is good advice. I did the approach tail because it was easier for my wife who dropped me off. Nothing particularly memorable about that 8 miles or so.I'd pick the easiest/cheapest option.

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    Arch makes a good photo-op, the falls are 729ft, tallest east of the Mississippi river. You will have many far less interesting days.

  5. #5
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    As already stated, adds one day to your hike, and is not particularly scenic except towards the last part, so don't sweat it. Do it if you want to. I have read where spouses stayed with the hiker at the lodge the night before and was able to see them off.
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    I agree with whats been said above.

    If you are curious about it go ahead and hike it.

    I started at Amicalola because some AT veteran friends had mentioned it on the PCT. I was curious what all this talk about steps, waterfalls, a stone arch etc.

    In the grand scheme of things the extra 3 1/2 hours and 9 miles were miniscule in comparison to 100 days and 2,180 miles of my hike.

    The one factor I did enjoy was how i felt like it was a warm up that morning and when i reached the top of Springer my mind had already began to shift into hiker mode.
    "This is it! Here we go!" that kind of thing.

    Other than that I don't consider it "extra credit" or whatever.
    It was just a nice prelude to the journey and the stairs really are not a big deal. It is a nice waterfall even on a rainy day such as i had.

    Either way, enjoy your route whichever you choose.

    PS. I just thought of the other reason i began at Amicalola..
    I am the type of person that arrives at the job 1/2 hour early (if I am late for work it drives me crazy all day) .. For some crazy reason i equated my satisfaction with starting at Amicalola, 9 miles early, with the working lifestyle i had just left behind at that point.
    Last edited by Iceaxe; 07-20-2012 at 22:27. Reason: thought of a hilarious parallel to real life and speelling
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    I like hiking from Amicalola, because I like the falls, but really it doesn't matter one way or the other, like what was said before, go where ever it's easiest to get to. But those 9 miles makes absolutely no difference in a thru-hike.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."
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    I've hiked the Approach Trail 3 times, and enjoyed it each time. The falls are beautiful, and you can park a car at the Visitor Center parking lot up to 6 months for some ridiculous low price. And you don't have to worry about security of your car. If you start late in the day, one option would be to just hike the staircase and stay a nite at the AFSP Lodge, enjoy the breakfast buffet, then get on the Approach Trail and hike. Or just camp at the Max Epperson shelter next to the Visitor Center before starting the Approach Trail. Difficulty wise, after you do the staircase, the rest of the Approach Trail is not too bad. Frosty Mtn is the largest elevation gain on the Approach Trail.

    I also like what the other guy said here, mentally the Approach Trail is kind of like a "warmup hike". Once you get to the top of Springer, you see that first white blaze, and you get psyched for the hike on the AT. I'll always do the Approach Trail every time I hike the GA section. I'd also like to try staying at the Len Foote Hike Inn sometime.

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    Registered User Slow n' Steady's Avatar
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    I guess my real question is whether Amicalola Falls adds significantly to the experience of starting a thru hike. I am not concerned about difficulty--the White Mountains are in my back yard. Doing a thru hike has been a longtime dream so I want to have a grand start, but I won't do Amicalola if it makes no difference. For those who have done it, was the approach trail exciting for you? Did it make seeing that first blaze even more exciting?

  10. #10
    PCT 2014, Pinhoti/Sheltowee 2013, Long Trail 2012, BMT 2011, AT 2010 10-K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow n' Steady View Post
    I guess my real question is whether Amicalola Falls adds significantly to the experience of starting a thru hike. I am not concerned about difficulty--the White Mountains are in my back yard. Doing a thru hike has been a longtime dream so I want to have a grand start, but I won't do Amicalola if it makes no difference. For those who have done it, was the approach trail exciting for you? Did it make seeing that first blaze even more exciting?
    The approach trail is not the AT... how could it make a difference?

    Agree with those who say make it easy on who's dropping you off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow n' Steady View Post
    I guess my real question is whether Amicalola Falls adds significantly to the experience of starting a thru hike. I am not concerned about difficulty--the White Mountains are in my back yard. Doing a thru hike has been a longtime dream so I want to have a grand start, but I won't do Amicalola if it makes no difference. For those who have done it, was the approach trail exciting for you? Did it make seeing that first blaze even more exciting?
    I think you're romanticizing this thru-hike a little too much, but don't worry, almost everyone does. After about a week, if that long, you'll be over it and just slogging your way up the trail, with little bits of excitement here and there.

    The approach trail and associated terrain, in the big picture, is NO DIFFERENT, than the rest of the trail. You wouldn't even know you were not off the AT if it were not for the blue blazes. I've even have heard peopl say that they wouldn't hike the approach, because they don't want to walk miles that don't count, that I don't get, but it's all part of that purity stuff.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."
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  12. #12
    PCT 2014, Pinhoti/Sheltowee 2013, Long Trail 2012, BMT 2011, AT 2010 10-K's Avatar
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    If you can slackpack it, go for it.

    Get a ride up to FS 42, hike back down to AFSP, then get John to give you a ride back to FS 42 in his Suburban...

  13. #13
    Registered User Slow n' Steady's Avatar
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    Yes, I am a hopeless romantic. I cry at beautiful viewpoints and revel in the beauty and solitude at each of my section hikes. I have enjoyed 1200 miles of summer section hiking and can't wait to finally do a thru hike. It has been a long time coming, and I want to celebrate that first blaze and seeing the plaque in Georgia. I am asking if other similarly romantic folks have felt that the approach trail added to the experience or if it did not make a difference.

  14. #14

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    In my oppinion every would be Thru-Hiker needs to start under the ARCH WAY and hike the Approach trail to springer i did the Approach trail on all my thrus and loved it, I hope some time in the future that the Approach trail would be considered part of the AT. RED-DOG

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10-K View Post
    If you can slackpack it, go for it.

    Get a ride up to FS 42, hike back down to AFSP, then get John to give you a ride back to FS 42 in his Suburban...
    please ignore this...if you slack, go south and step on a blue blazed trail (all on the SAME day and the first day no less), your hike will be a wretched failure.might as well not even hike as to do this. and you will not be eligible for a certificate.

    I hiked it in a drizzle and fog which restricted visibilty to about 50 feet. all I remember is crossing the BMT about 50 times. I have no idea what the approach trail even looks like. I do know there were stairs and it goes uphill.

  16. #16

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    I felt that hiking the approach trail would be a good way to get to Springer, rather than backtracking on the AT. Adds a half day or so. I flew on the first morning flight to Atlanta from Cleveland, took the MARTA to the North station, got shuttled to Amicalola SP by Survivor Dave, and started about noon on the approach trail. Got to the summit at about 5:30 PM and stayed the night in the shelter area just past the summit. Was a great way to start and would do the same again. I'm sure many folks that skipped this were just as happy with their decision. No right or wrong here, just personal preference.
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  17. #17
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    The fact that you asked, tells me that you probably want to make sure you "don't miss anything" in your thru hike experience. And I see you live in VT, so the approach trail isn't exactly in your back yard. So, why not spend an extra few hours and get it done while you're on that end of the AT? Then you won't have to wonder what it's all about, or listen to someone else tell you about it. Sure everyone has their own opinion of what it means to them, but only you can really know what it will mean to you. The only way to know for sure is to experience it yourself.
    Biggie

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    Biggie is wise.
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  19. #19
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    I just finished my first thru hike and I left from Springer and not Amicalola. I can assure you that after months of hiking you will no long worry about a few miles here and there. Hiking the trail has nothing to do with following every blaze it is about walking from Georgia to Maine and having a great adventure. On my trip I skipped or cut off about 20 miles of the AT via side trails and roads but I also hiked about 100 miles on roads going in and out of towns. In the end it is up to you but if you ask me as long as you stand and take a picture on the top of Springer, you are all good. Just make sure you get there next year!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow n' Steady View Post
    Yes, I am a hopeless romantic. I cry at beautiful viewpoints and revel in the beauty and solitude at each of my section hikes. I have enjoyed 1200 miles of summer section hiking and can't wait to finally do a thru hike. It has been a long time coming, and I want to celebrate that first blaze and seeing the plaque in Georgia. I am asking if other similarly romantic folks have felt that the approach trail added to the experience or if it did not make a difference.
    In that case, start from the falls. You souind like someone that would think about it and think about it if you didn't.
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