We tried to capture this photo the night before but it didn’t work. So Sharon was back with it in the morning and finally got the right picture. Keeping up with your cup or glass, helps conserve energy. Not as many dishes are washed and less water is used in the clean up.

Breakfast is hardy! And we enjoyed it without our makeup because after all we got up to see sunrise—a rare treat.

By 10 am, it was time to say good bye to the Hike Inn until we return in the fall.

This time we hiked out to the AT Approach Trail where we were sure that we would see plenty of through hikers heading north to Maine!

Here’s a couple of cool things to know about the AT trail in Georgia: North Georgia mountains are nothing like the rest of state. The mountains are substantial—the highest peak is taller than 3 1/2 Empire State Buildings. You won’t find peach trees blooming or peanut farms here! Almost half of the A.T. in Georgia passes through federally designated wilderness.

This is a typical view of the AT trail. It is usually laced with green as it winds it way through a wooded landscape. But you probably want to know about the trail: Campsites are very crowded in March and April with thru-hikers and spring breakers. Plus, the weather can be miserably cold. Due to the height of the mountains, the snowfall and cold temperatures can rival some a thousand Trail miles north. You can encounter snow from November through March or April. During cold snaps temperatures can dip to single digits. Yikes!

The trail here follows a ridge line and goes up. Period. I know “Andrew” at the Hike Inn told us that at some point it goes down, down, down, and it does. But honestly, it felt like we spent most of our day climbing. This photo is of an Indian Marker tree. Native Americans would sit or bend the tender branches of a small tree near a water source. As they would pass a tree like this, they would repeatedly bent the branch until it grew at an angle and pointed in the direction of a water source. Over the years, a lot of these trees have survived. You just have to be alert to the landscape, and look up using your imagination.

On the second day after we had hiked close to seven miles, I’m glad Sharon had enough energy to climb trees! We talked about it and realized that Native Americans (Cherokee and Creek Indians) had left certain trees along the landscape. Of course when they lived in this area, they would burn away small trees that prevented deer from reaching fresh green vegetation. Notice the brown landscape in this photo. Trees, especially hardwoods, are in an abundance. In the summer, they choke out tiny green plants that are food for native deer. The Indians hunted deer and other animals for food and clothing so it is easy to see how the cycle worked.

Thru hikers (hikers that are going from north Georgia and Springer Mountain to Maine and Mt. Katahdin) often have their dogs with them. I would never take Cocoa with me, but I also don’t think I would hike nearly 2,200 miles! A car works pretty well for me.

Jim stops long enough to take a photo of one of our beloved signs. They signal a point on the trail that many people never reach unless they are heading off to Springer Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.

Peaceful is deceiving when it looks easy and simple. One of the motto’s of the AT is: Hike your own hike! (smile)

I fell in love with the carpet of green moss that borders the trail at higher elevations.

First signs of spring along the trail.

Pat waits for us to catch up and sips Coke from the same bottle that was with her most of the trip. Whatever you pack into the trail of the Hike Inn, you must pack out. There are no trash cans along the way and no one drops bottles or candy wrappers on the AT. There is so much respect for this trail.

We believe this is another Indian marker. This time an Indian burial ground. We found three mounds of rocks bordering the approach trail.

Finally, we crossed a small stream or water source for those who hike out from Amicalola Falls.

A through hiker passes Anne on the way to Springer.

Finally, back at the car where I quickly shed my pack. The next time I hike this trail I’m leaving some things behind!