I’ve never really understood the magnitude of the crowd that starts at Springer every year in March. The Appalachian Trail gets such a huge crowd, I can barely comprehend it.
Last week, Cough Drop and I started from Springer for a week on the trail. Well, Cough Drop for a week, but me for four weeks. Anyway, we ended up tenting almost every night because the shelters were so packed. Like twenty or thirty people at shelters. It was amazing. And a little scary.
But just hiking a mile past a shelter and tenting makes for perfectly quiet nights, even if I ended up chatting with dozens of people throughout the day and trying to pull away from conversations.
I’m in Hiawassee, now, taking a zero day with several very cool hikers. It’s interesting being a part of the through-hiker crowd and knowing that I’ll be leaving them soon. But it’s still worth the trip. I’ve even decided to change my plans a little to allow me to hike north with them further. Instead of turning around in the Smokies, I’m going to keep going, then hitch a ride back south to Atlanta for the flight to California. And then the crowds of new hikers will begin again!