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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at

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Posted: March 26, 2015

Six-Moon Journey: A 2,200-mile adventure on the Appalachian Trail

Written by: Carey Kish

Carey Kish is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a trek that he expects to take about six months. The big hike began recently on Springer Mountain, the official start the AT in the mountains of northern Georgia. En route to Katahdin in Maine’s North Woods, the journey will require about 5,000,000 steps and climb more than 500 mountain summits with a cumulative elevation gainof some 565,000 feet. Excerpts from Carey’s trail journal are presented here.

Nothing left to do but walk the walk

March 18, 2015: Amicalola Falls State Park to Black Gap Shelter, 7.3 miles, 11:10am to 3:50pm.

Holed up at Black Gap Shelter after an 8-mile hike on the approach trail that leads to the start of the AT. Quite a day it was indeed.

Reached Amicalola Falls State Park mid-morning. Unloaded the car and sorted out a few final gear items. Registered in the visitor center; I’m hiker #538 going northbound thus far. Weighed pack on the outside scale, 39 pounds but no way. Weighed it at home on the very reliable scale in the shed and came up with 34 pounds including 2 liters of water. I’ll go with that.

Today’s weather is partly sunny and probably 65F with a good breeze. After month of planning and preparation, the time had finally arrived, and it was a fine day to get going. Gathered around the stone arch out back to take the obligatory start photos. Then headed up the approach trail toward Springer. It’s a mile and 640 steps to the top of the 800-foot Amicalola Falls. I am filled with nostalgia as I go, thinking about these same steps I took way back in 1977.

Approach trail to AT, Amicalola Falls State Park. Carey Kish photo.

Approach trail to AT, Amicalola Falls State Park. Carey Kish photo.

Met Fran near the top of the falls; she’s camping here and hiking the first few miles. Lunched on top of a hill a few hours in. Ham and cheese sammies and a cold beer. Love my wife! Fran and I said goodbyes around 2; she’ll meet me in 5 days at Neels Gap before driving back to Maine. Yeah! Trudged on over Frosty Mountain and contoured around Black Mountain. Trashy mess at Nimblewill Gap; kept moving. Wonderful hiking, beautiful day, great to be back on the trail in GA.

Amicalola Falls cascades 800 feet. Carey Kish photo.

Amicalola Falls cascades 800 feet. Carey Kish photo.

Black Gap hasn’t changed; same old shelter, cold running spring, all up high at 3300 feet. Several other hikers here plus college group. One fellow has old Jan Sport expedition pack circa 1975, loaded like you wouldn’t believe. Looked like he’d walked right out of at era. Glad I don’t have to carry that monster.

Sun is low in the sky, dinner is done (freeze-dried pasta primavera) the food bag has been hung on the bear cables nearby. Disturbing note: There are several large bags of gear and food left in the shelter and hanging from the cables left behind by thoughtless hikers. Leave No Trace my ass. Bet I’m going to see a lot more of this, had heard that I might.

Tucked into the sleeping bag at 8pm. Turned on my micro radio for some music, read The Hobbit on the Kindle for awhile. Tomorrow: Springer Mountain and the official start of the Appalachian Trail. 38 years out from my last AT thru-hike, I can hardly believe I’m here.

Oh no, difficult and strenuous trail ahead! Carey Kish photo.

Oh no, difficult and strenuous trail ahead! Carey Kish photo.

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