Last month I joined the ‘Walking Club of Georgia’. One of the things that attracted me to this group was that they are hiking the 80 mile Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. Each month they do a different part of the trail. I am a bit late to this as they started this series last November (I’ll have to figure out how to make those up…). Last month’s hike was canceled because of thunder & lightning storms so the schedule is a bit off. Today’s hike was also somewhat of an anomaly as it was an out and back from Woody Gap to Gooch Gap and back to WoodyGap. None of this mattered to me because I was simply excited to be out on the Appalachian Trail!
We met up at the REI store at 8:00 AM and carpooled up to the trail head for Woody Gap, about a 65 mile drive. Including me there was a total of six of us doing hike. There was a threat of rain later in the day but when we arrived at the trail head, the weather was perfect.
We were at about a 3150 foot elevation here and with the 'Woody Gap' sign to our back looking to the west, this was our vista!
We geared up and headed out towards Gooch Gap.
The terrain was very rocky and it was good that we all had walking poles or stick. You definitely needed that extra support going up and down on the trail. We went for a ways and eventually found a clearing for a quick break.
During our hike we came across quite a few other hikers (~20). It was great talking with each of them. Some were day hikers just like us and others were headed to Mt. Katahdin, Maine (the other end of the Appalachian Trail, ~2100 miles away)!
About 3.5 miles in we arrived at Gooch Gap and this was the perfect time for lunch. Each of us packed a lunch. For me – PBJ sandwich, banana, granola bar, and water.
After lunch, turned around and headed back to Woody Gap.
One of the things that I’m always on the lookout for in the woods - burls. I am a burl hunter. There were plenty of burls out there today! Take a look at these pictures of some of the burls I saw on this hike and I will explain…
One of my other hobbies is turning wooden bowls on a lathe. Some of the most incredible wood grain patterns are from burls. A burl is a deformity in a tree. These deformities create some of the most beautiful wood grain patterns I have ever seen. However, I did not harvest any of the burls I saw today.
We made our way back and again had to be careful as we were going up and down and to our right most of the way was a pretty steep downhill. Yes, those walking poles, sticks absolutely served their purpose today.
As we approached Woody Gap, we could see in a distance, the mountain that we will have to climb on next month’s hike.