Day one, we ate a big breakfast at the lodge and set out on the approach trail. It was about 7.5 miles to Springer Mountain, the Southern terminus of the AT. We hiked for several miles with a woman who was heading up to Springer with her son to send him off on his thru-hike. Her daughter hiked the trail 2 years ago, and she herself hiked from San Francisco to Washington DC in the early 80s. We ate lunch at the summit and took photos.
We hiked a few more miles to the Stover Creek shelter and met a lot of hikers, about 20. We were expecting rain in the night so most of us slept in the shelter. In total we hiked around 11 miles and felt pretty good, no blisters or other issues. I forgot to take a picture of the crowded shelter!