Friday, March 1, 2013

Amicalola Falls State Park

So we have reservations for a cabin in Amicalola Falls State Park at the end of the month, and I'll be starting the hike from there. This picture is from the park website: Amicalola Falls State Park 

The actual starting point of the AT, Springer Mountain, is roughly eight miles north of Amicalola.  Springer is technically in the Chattahoochee National Forest, not the state park, but never mind; Amicalola Falls has a pretty secure claim on the whole "Gateway to the Trail" thing. They have a big visitors center full of AT swag, a long-term parking lot, a lodge and cabins like the one we're staying in, and a sort-of-ominous looking archway at the start of the approach trail:

After this, the Springer peak is a little bit anti-climactic. For one thing, the elevation is less than 4000 feet, so it's still pretty much in the woods, not on some bleak, wind-swept precipice.  There is a bronze plaque that's mounted almost horizontally to a big flat rock and is frankly easy to miss. I know this because, when we dropped our son off to start his hike a few years ago, we drove along a forest service road partway up the mountain (bypassing Amicalola) and hiked to the peak with him. We were expecting, I'm not sure what, but something more than is there. Here's the plaque:

There is a little logbook, tucked away nearby, to sign and write one's declaration of determination or marching manifesto or whatever, but that's pretty much it. On the morning we were there (which was freezing cold, btw), we reached the summit by ourselves; there was nobody else taking pictures or hugging goodbye, no cheering crowds of admirers...just some squirrels looking at my son as if to say, "What did you expect? Start walking, creampuff!"


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