I climbed Blood Mountain on the second day of a three-day hike with my brother and his 12-year-old son. We had camped on one of the designated tent sites at the mountain's base the night before, and were pleasantly surprised to have no other campers around. I mean, this IS the Appalachian trail, a designated camp site, a beautiful Labor Day weekend, and less than two hours drive from Atlanta. Where was everybody?
Morning broke clear and chilled. Scrambled eggs, a pound of bacon (hey, this is the south, man!), and coffee got us started right. After only ten minutes, we started up the Stairway to Heaven: steep rock stairsteps leading up the western approach. It seemed like hundreds of steps, sometimes separated by a few meters of trail, but always more steps!
This approach greets northbound through hikers after only a day or two on the Appalachian Trail, and I can imagine many of them begin to wonder what they've bargained for as they trudge up stairstep after stairstep.
The top was wonderful. The ancient stone bunkhouse is set amid wind-blown trees with frequent clouds and fog lending a mystical air. We scrambled up the rocky top and were rewarded with spectacular photos of ridgelines above the low clouds.
It's a quick and steep descent to Neels Gap and the breezeway at Walasi-Yi.