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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 MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: March 26, 2015

Six-Moon Journey: Springer Mountain splendor, shelter chaos

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 offical 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 gain of some 565,000 feet. Excerpts from Carey’s trail journal are presented here.

March 19, 2015: Black Gap Shelter to Hawk Mountain Shelter, 9.6 miles, 9:30am to 3:30pm.

A mass of hiker humanity here at Hawk Mountain Shelter. Full 12-person shelter plus one. Dozens of tents pitched hither and yon all over the campsite out here in the mud and rain and fog. Going to get some serious closeness with smelly hikers tonight for sure.

Wet gear is hanging everywhere. Squeezed into a space on the first level. Cooked dinner and done by 5pm.

Heavy rain all last night at Black Gap. Slept fitfully until 8am, which is just about the time it started. to get light outside. Up and about, still raining heavily. Dark and foggy out. Dreary scene.

Got it all together and headed up to Springer Mountain, a scant 1.5 miles north. On top by 10:30, standing there at the bronze plaque and the first official white blaze of the AT in the gnarled trees at 3800 feet. Old familiar spot this is, a very special one to me. First time here at start of 1977 thru-hike, then again in 1989 and 2001 (section hikes).

Carey Kish at the official start of the AT atop Springer Mtn, Georgia. Carey Kish photo.

Carey Kish at the official start of the AT atop Springer Mtn, Georgia. Carey Kish photo.

Took the obligatory start-of-the-big-hike photos, signed the register and moved on. Not much more to do in the pouring rain, which failed entirely to blunt the beauty and wonder of this moment on this most special mountaintop.

Note: According to the register down at the Amicalola visitor center, I’m officially northbound AT thru-hiker #538 for 2015.

Summit of Springer Mtn and the first of thousands of white blazes that mark the AT. Carey Kish photo.

Summit of Springer Mtn and the first of thousands of white blazes that mark the AT. Carey Kish photo.

Cold wind to and steady rain was the order of the morning on the beautiful hike along the ridge tops to Stover Creek Shelter, a dry place to duck into for lunch. Half-dozen other thru-hikers here as well.

Off again, but he lull in the rain didn’t last. Moe heavy downpours, yes, but they could not in the slightest dampen my high spirits. Cold hands much of the day, but no matter.

Three Forks area was beautiful, clear rushing stream bordered by green-leafed azaleas. Passed up side trail to Long Creek Falls, the cascade of water rushing off the bill of my ball cap proving to be an entertaining sight all its own.

47F and cold wind and rain marked the official start of my AT journey. Carey Kish photo.

47F and cold wind and rain marked the official start of my AT journey. Carey Kish photo.

Hawk Mountain a chaotic mess. Wet people and gear everywhere. Shelter jammed, hard to know who’s coming or going. Big group moving out, so had to wait to claim space. Probably should’ve tented, but inside under the shelter roof was hard to pass up.

By evening the rain had ebbed. Hoping for better weather tomorrow. Couldn’t see all at far in the big mist today, but no doubt is it ever good to be here on the AT in Georgia. Hikers packed in here from New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Kansas, Germany and lots of other places. Trail names are starting. I started out as “Hobbit” but have morphed into “Beerman.” Go figure. More on that transition later.

Crowds… I knew they’d be out here. Gonna be interesting, at least for the first few weeks until people start dropping by the wayside, something that’s inevitable. As for me, barring serious sickness, injury or worse, I’m out here for the duration. God willing.

Hawk Mountain Shelter was chock full of wet hikers and wet gear. Carey Kish photo.

Hawk Mountain Shelter was chock full of wet hikers and wet gear. Carey Kish photo.

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