The climb is over. Money has been donated. We have some amazing memories, fantastic photos and superbly generous supporters to thank.
At 5am on Monday 29 May we set off from our hotel just outside Atlanta and headed to Toccoa – home of the US Army Paratroopers in WWII. A destination Lindsey and I had longed to visit for some time and, after visiting many of the other sites related to the 101st and Band of Brothers, this was the last one to tick off our list.
It was still dark when we left but, as the sun rose, we neared Currahee and both squealed when we saw it in the distance. We passed the iconic ‘Camp Toccoa at Currahee’ sign standing proud outside where the original camp stood, and parked our car nearby. Then we headed down the road to the beginning of the Col Robert Sink Memorial Trail and the start of road up Currahee.
It was just as we’d seen in photos from WWII and depicted on Band of Brothers. It was almost like déjà vu. It was 7am and we set off on our momentous hike.
It was very humid even at that early hour so we needed to make sure we drank enough because, as well all know, “dehydration is a soldier’s worst enemy”. But, luckily no-one was there to shout at us for drinking from our canteen.
Lots of Band of Brothers-related comments in this post (obviously!) so apologies if you don’t get some of them.
Day of Days
The first part of our walk was glorious – the fresh early morning sun peeking through the trees with gentle rolling road. This wasn’t too bad at all! Although, we knew we had a more strenuous part ahead of us. It looked exactly like it did in the pictures and we kept imagining the soldiers running up and down the hills in formations with their packs on their backs singing their cadences as they went.
We took some photos along the way, a video or two, and even some Facebook Live footage to show everyone what it was like. Then the terrain began to change. We could see the hills getting steeper the further up Currahee we went and then, just as Dale Dye had warned us – “It’s the last quarter of a mile that’ll kick your ass!” – we came to the big bugger.
To get us going for this final push I had downloaded Blood On The Risers to my phone and began playing it. We walked in time with the singing and it spurred us on. It was hard. So very hard. The incline was ridiculous and both of us actually felt like our lungs were giving up on us. But then we could see the final turn in the road ahead and the radio masts looming above us.
We finally got to the graffiti rocks and took in the amazing view across Stephens County. We could see for miles into the distance and it was incredible. We had a drink and then headed up the final part of the trail to the summit. It felt indescribable to finally be at the summit of Mt Currahee – walking in the path of legends to the top. After visiting the other Band of Brothers’ sites, this was probably the most iconic. It was quite emotional.
Why We Fight
After gathering ourselves, we walked back down to the graffiti rocks and just chilled for a while. We took some photos, did another Facebook Live video, and as it was Memorial Day we’d taken a poppy cross with us to pay our respects to all those who have lost their lives in combat. So much respect for all those who are no longer with us, who gave their lives fighting to better the world. Most of us can never understand what went through the minds of the soldiers who stood on that ground so many years ago. All we can offer is our respect and a promise that they will never be forgotten.
Once we’d recovered and the beetroot colour in our cheeks had faded, we then started our descent back to Camp Toccoa. It was now around 8.30am and the sun was well and truly beating down on us. We were both glad we decided to do the hike early in the morning rather than later. As we walked down that last part (that almost killed us) I played another song I had downloaded especially – the theme from Band of Brothers.
We’d looked forward to visiting Currahee and Toccoa for so long. It’d been a dream for years but we never really thought we’d make it. Standing on the top was surreal but something neither of us will ever forget. Thank you to everyone who donated. Thank you to those who supported us along the way. And thank you to the men and women who gave their lives to we can live ours.
“Currahee!” and “Hang Tough!”