This last weekend I went up to Northern Georgia to scout out some campsites in the Chattahoochee National Forest. There were a couple of Forest Roads that intersected with each other and looked as if they went along a few small rivers. One of which was the river that dumps at Amicalola State Park. Amicalola Falls. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Lot’s of hiking in and around the park. One of the most famous of course is the Approach Trail to the Appalachian Trail. There are several parts of this Blue Blazed trail that leads up to Springer Mountain (The Southern Terminus of the AT). Most backpackers/Hikers that start on the Approach Trail start at the Visitors Center and trek up the 8 miles to the summit. The Approach Trail is a difficult trail and NOT to be taken lightly by novice backpackers. However, there are other trail heads up towards the Falls that you can catch without starting at the bottom.
One of the other trails is a Lime Green Blazed Trail that leads to the Len Foote Hike Inn. This trail has it’s own trailhead and is clearly marked. The trail is about 5 miles to the Hike Inn and is a moderate trail. Parking is at the trailhead above the Falls
So that’s the back story on the two trails. Ironically, both Blue Blazed and the Green Blazed Trails have a very close proximity on the upper part of the Falls where parking is available for the Len Foote Hike Inn guests.
As I was driving on a gravel Forest Road (High Shoals Rd), I saw two female (older women) backpackers walking along the road. They looked very much lost and in distress. They asked me where the Len Foote Hike Inn trail was? These two women weren’t even close. They had followed the Blue Blazed Trail (the AT Approach Trail) up to a Forest Road and were looking for a supply access road to the Hike Inn. One of the woman was having a diabetic issue and was clearly in distress. Her pack was extremely heavy and packed very wrong. She was way over her head with the trail she was attempting. Furthermore, they listened to another hiker who clearly didn’t know what they were talking about. They were lost. It was just by luck I was driving on a THAT Forest Road that I ran into them.
I picked them up obviously and drove them to the Visitors Center where the one lady could get some medical attention.
I had just read an article posted by Backpacker Magazine a day before about this very subject. Crazy!
To my point I guess. Please, please be prepared and know where you are going, what trail you are on, and always follow the blazes marked for you in most State Parks. If you have never backpacked before. DON”T do the hardest trail there is. Start with flat trails with low mileage to practice. KNOW THY GEAR! Have someone who is a seasoned backpacker look at your pack to make sure it’s fitted right. DON”T listen to other strangers tell you a “shortcut”. Stay on the TRAIL, and pre plan. These two ladies were part of a Georgia Meetup.com group. The group just said “meet us there”. No one from the group made sure these ladies even knew how to backpack. Trip leaders should always make sure people are accounted for, and have a Wilderness First Aid Certificate. I’m glad it ended up well, but I hate seeing this.