Springer Mountain Shelter – End…or Beginning of the Long Walk North


P1270110

P1270110 (Photo credit: RickCoker)

I remember how long it took to reach the Spring Mountain Shelter on the Appalachian Trail.  An entire day of stopping and starting.  Although I had already become somewhat trail-hardened, little prepared me for the nature of the ascent.  It seems, as I recall, that I went up, then down, then up some more.  It wasn’t long before I was asking “When will I get to the top?”  Of course, other hikers were asking the same thing.  That gave rise to what those among us knew as “Cronin’s Law.”  A hiker by that name simply said to us, “Never assume you’re at the top.”  This truth proved out more times that I can remember.  Thus, “Cronin’s Law,” “Never assume you’re at the top!”  Near sunset, I huffed and puffed into camp to find a handful of other hikers who were already either bedded down or wrapping up dinner.  I think I ate my food cold just to avoid having to fire up the stove and cook.  Already I knew this long hike was going to take a lot of patience and lowering of expectations.  Fortunately for me, I had not charted out doing a specific number of miles per day, so that pressure was off.  During the early weeks I averaged about 6-7 miles daily.  While this might not seem like much, it’s actually about right for someone who has no experience with extensive backpacking in such rugged terrain.  Eight miles down, many to go!

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