As you approach the Blood Mountain Shelter, you immediately know it’s a special place. I would imagine that it is one of the oldest shelters on the Appalachian Trail. Many of the original ones have been replaced by now. The shelter at the top was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps for the Georgia State Parks system. Then in 1956, ownership of the shelter was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service. Today, it is maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. In 2010, the structure went through a major renovation and preservation effort.

Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the sixth-tallest mountain in the state. It’s elevation is 4,458 feet—much shorter than the North Carolina mountains we hike, but it is much more brutal.

On our way up, an overnight hiker blew past us. We gladly stepped aside and let him move quickly by, using two trekking poles, he was a speed machine! He was loaded down for an overnight on the Appalachian Trail! As he passed us, he said, “See you at the top!” We laughed because we were going much slower. Still, he offered us a little bit of AT community friendship.

We arrived right on time—later in the day and were able to catch the “awe” that comes during the golden hour of sunlight.

The two rooms in the shelter were aglow with late day light, and I thought of all the people who had stayed here. I confess that I would not be among that number for several reasons! A friend wrote and told me that she slept in this shelter on her way north on the AT. She remembers how a little mouse ran across her head! Yikes. She also said she quickly tossed it across the room!! Memories! She would have come to the shelter from Springer Mountain and continued down from here to Mountains Crossing at Neels Gap and then through nearby Hogpen Gap.

I saw this reminder to be grateful to the One, who has brought us this far and will take us on from here.

Can’t quite make out this hiker’s trail name. He probably worked on a renovation of this shelter at some point. I have learned that lots of hikers sign things along the AT—mostly journals—but this “signature” will be in this shelter forever.

Then there were other reminders of the people, who had passed through these shelter doors. Of busier and happier times. Those were times when the journals were in the shelter for thru hikers to sign. For now, these have been taken up and packed away due to Covid. But thankfully, a few weeks ago, I signed the one that was still out on Springer Mountain, which is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail for north bound hikers. The Blood Mountain Trail is without a doubt the most hiked trail section in Georgia.

So, I’m grateful to say that I made it to “the top!” Grateful for so much these days. Grateful that I’ll come back here and grateful that it is removed from the world around it. Hike on folks! Get outside. Walk, if you can’t do more, and see the beauty around you!