We left Springer Mt. about 11 and started hiking north hiking with various others as we progressed. The first 5 miles was fairly easy hiking, but the last 3, we started heading up to the ridge line, so it was quite a workout, and it actually hit high 70's. Met a lot of new hikers as we progressed, some thru-hikers, but plenty section hikers also. Passed thru a lush rhododendron forest - felt like we were in the jungle. Once we headed up though, it changed to hardwood forest. Beautiful crystal streams with nice bridges for the trail. Met a local trail volunteer who was catching insects in the stream for ecological maintenance purposes. Stopped and had a nice lunch with 8 others at
Stover Creek Shelter. From there we headed up to the ridge line and arrived at Hawk Mt. Shelter at 3:30. We set up camp and as the day progressed we ended up with 37 other tents surrounding the shelter. Of course everyone was in great spirits, excited to be on the trail. Right now I'm going to stop writing and go join Keith and others at the campfire. Overall a great day with great weather, warmer than we expected, but it's all good!
(Camped at Hawk Mt. Shelter, mile 8.1)
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