[Ric] Springer Mountain Prologue

Paula’s referred to this day as “Approach Trail is Done” and the first full day on the AT as “The First Day”. My focus while Paula was on the Approach Trail was Springer Mountain. While she headed out on foot on the Approach Trail, I drove around the mountain to a parking lot off a Forest Service road that is close to the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

It was yet another cold morning after some overnight snow. It was nice to have my NH-approved snow tires. The road surface had frozen and the few tracks in a little snow really wasn’t much of a challenge, the mud in the afternoon while going downhill was more dicey.

I’m getting a bit ahead of events. The day’s hiking started on the Approach Trail, which starts just behind the visitor center. You can’t miss the start:

Approach Trail arch

The start of the Approach Trail. 8.5 miles and only 2100 more.

Starting the Approach Trail

A trip of 2100 miles starts with the first step. Well, 8.5 miles of steps in this case.

After I wandered around a bit taking more photos, I headed out for the 45 minute drive to the Springer Mountain parking area about one mile north of the summit, the real start of the Appalachian Trail.

The Forest Service access road is several miles of dirt, in pretty good condition, and as I gained altitude, I reached a zone that had been in the clouds the night before in sub-freezing conditions. Everything was coated in hoar frost that was beginning to melt in the morning sun. I stopped at the intersection with a jeep trail and took several photos of the hoar frost, here are a few:

Hoar frost on rhododendron.

Hoar frost on rhododendron.

Side trail off a Forest Service road.

This is a side trail off the Forset Service road to the Springer Mountain parking area.

Frost fingers

Frost fingers form when wet ground begins to freeze. I think as ice crystals form and expand, they push away from the surface and the process repeats.

Forest service road

Pretty easy driving given the conditions.

Up at the parking area, more photos. There wasn’t much urgency, as the earlier I started the further I’d wind up walking. The plan was for me to head south until I met Paula and then turn back and walk with her back to the car. On the other hand, there was no reason to delay after taking in the distractions so I headed up the trail soon enough.

Morning icicles.

Icicles on the trail in the morning on an easy hike to the top of Springer Mountain.

Paula and I found each other readily a few miles past the summit, the weather had turned rather pleasant in the warm sun. I hadn’t brought sun screen, but I didn’t get burned despite the bare trees.

Back at the summit, I showed Paula where the summit log book was and we hung around for a while before heading back down.

Springer Mountain summit.

The real start of the AT. Well, it’s the rock and plaque in the background. It’s more comfortable to sit by this plaque.

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~ by Ric Werme on April 14, 2013.

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