Yesterday under partly cloudy skies, low humidity, and mid-seventies heat, the trekkers left on the big walk. We met in Dawsonville, and on the way, both dads independently told the girls about the NASCAR great Bill Elliot who is from Dawsonville; yes the same "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville." After some debate about using Google or Warren's directions to get to the top of Springer Mountain from downtown Dawsonville, we went with Google and set out. The roads were well marked, and the directions much easier in person than on the paper. The Forestry Service roads were in fantastic condition and nowhere near what I had expected-- deep ruts with overloaded log trucks straining down the mountain meeting us in the middle of the hairpin turns. There are signs guiding you into the parking lot so there we went. It is .9 of a mile hike to the top to the first blaze. After some discussion about food distribution between the packs, they weighed their packs, both coming in at 32 pounds. That is considered a little heavy for women but we decided that the food consumption will lighten the packs as they travel the next four nights.
On a side note, here is Eddie Vedder singing from the soundtrack to "Into the Wild"
Missy and I love Jon Krakauer's books, one of which was made into a movie "Into the Wild" which is about a young man who leaves after his college graduation to see the west and ends up dying in Alaska. Sean Penn bought the movie rights after reading the book and made it into a movie, and I must say he did a great job. Many of the scenes are just breathtakingly beautiful, and some are very poignant. Macon and Monica saw this movie when it first came out in NYC a few years ago and sobbed during the end of the movie while my sons, who saw it years later, couldn't figure out how somebody could die of starvation in the summer in Alaska. They join many Alaskans in their thinking. Anyway, with that history duly noted, I thought a little Eddie Vedder singing "Setting Forth" seemed appropriate.
The girls have their tents, their sleeping bags, first aid kits, change of clothes, food, water, and bear bag with rope. They should be fine to get started. They will be out on the trail for four nights, and we will drive over to Hiawassee, Georgia to meet them where the trail crosses the highway. We're planning to take fresh fruits, hard boiled eggs, a set of hiking poles, pepper spray, and a cooler full of "trail magic" to share with other hikers we encounter.
Macon told me that Warren, the AT guru, had emailed her that over one hundred North Bounders started out this past Sunday. We saw a half dozen or so just on Tuesday, and most of them were girls so they will have plenty of female company on the trail it seems.
Finally, the hike to the top of Springer Mountain is worth it. The view is stunning, enough haze to remind you where you are, but enough vista to see what you are getting into as you commence the hike. They signed in with their legal names and are waiting for the bestowing of their "trail names."