Page 5 Springer Mtn: southernmost of the Blue Ridge Mountains and terminus of the
Appalachian Trail since 1958. The traditional Trail begins at the bronze Georgia A.T.
Club plaque mounted on a summit rock, with sunset vista to the west. White blazes
begin at the plaque and extend for more than two thousand miles to Katahdin. Nearby
is the more recent USFS plaque on a boulder housing the official GATC sign-in register,
which will find its way to the club's archives at summer's end. In the early days, thru-
hikers picked up a pebble from Springer to be carried the distance and placed on the
cairn atop Katahdin, a tradition that has been revived by modern thru-hikers. Note that
overnight camping is prohibited on the summit to allow for revegitation.
From Springer Mountain to Neels Gap, you will probably have your first sighting of
these wildflower and tree varieties: common blue violet, Confederate violet, downy
yellow violet, bloodroot, buttercup, great chickweed, and flowering dogwood tree.
Page 5 Stover Creek: towering stand of virgin evergreens, called Cathedral Hemlocks,
borders the creek. These trees were too remote to be harvested. Most forests along the
A.T. have been harvested at least two or three times and are but remnants of their
former glory. To envision what the Great American Forest was like when the settlers
arrived, double the height and triple the girth of every tree you see, then imagine a
dense forest of such trees stretching unbroken from Alabama to Nova Scotia. If you feel
a tinge of sadness at the loss of such grandeur, consider that future generations will feel
the same about what remains today if we let it slip away.
Page 5 Woody Gap, GA60: On A.T.roadside picnic area; spring on north side of
the road beyond parking area, 500 feet off A.T. on side trail to the left. left 1.9m
to SUCHES, GA 30572: Post-office hours: Mon-Fri 7:30-11:30am and 1pm-4:30pm;
Sat 7:30am-11:30am, 706-747-2611; tradition says it got its name years ago when
someone said, "It's our town, such'ez it is," but more probably named for a Cherokee
chief; important to northbounders as the first place for mailing home excess gear.
Services--Suches General Store: (12905 Wolf Pen Gap Rd., Suches, GA 30572; 706-
747-2271) good for short-term resupply, open 7 days until 8pm, until 6pm Sun; outside
pay phone, Coleman by the ounce, coin-operated laundromat, will hold maildrop
packages Big Rock Medical Clinic: open weekdays until 5pm, closed Wed and
weekends Two Wheels Only, a motorcycle campground, sometimes lets thru-hikers
camp overnight or take a shower, especially in bad early-season weather Wes Wesson
(706-747-2671) offers shuttle services to northern Georgia locations; Jim and Ruth
Ann Miner (706-747-5434) can give assistance if you need help.
Page 6 Neels Gap, US19: On A.T.Mountain Crossing at Neels Gap, located in the
Walasi-Yi Center (9710 Gainesville Hwy., Blairsville, GA 30512; 706-745-6095;
<www.mountaincrossings.com>): the only building the A.T. goes through, so you
can't miss it; hostel, backpacking store and small grocery section, open 7 days year-
round; owned by Winton and Margie Porter. Hostel available on first-come first served
basis, holds up to 16 people, bunk with shower and towel $18 per night; call for
cabin reservations; no dogs in hostel but kennels available. The backpacking store is
well-stocked with hiking gear, clothing, trail guides, stove fuels, first-aid supplies, repair
items, etc. If you need equipment advice, set up an appointment with the staff when
you arrive. The grocery section is intentionally stocked for thru-hikers, so you
The Thru-hiker's Handbook 2003 93