Yes you’re looking at a tree covered in shoes and boots. The tree is in front of Mountain Crossings at Neels Gap.
Neels Gap is significant because 20% of people that attempt a thru hike bail at Neels Gap about 32 miles in. I’m happy to report that tonight I am tenting beyond Neels Gap just outside of Whitley Shelter. Yeah!
I was cold the first couple of nights so at Mountain Crossings I bought a warmer sleeping bag. Extravagant, yes. Necessary? If comfort and happiness are important factors, definitely yes! After our big day yesterday a much shorter (easy is soooo relative) day today. Sent from my iPhone
Currently hiking with three other folks, Ben, Alan and Adele. On Wednesday we needed to put in a big day from Stover Creek Shelter to Neels Gap as camping in the middle requires a bear canister which only one of us had. It would be a 16 mile day with our first 4000 foot climb of the trip. I’m happy to say we all passed arriving at Neels Gap ahead of schedule.
All the hostel rooms at Mountain Crossing were taken by the time we arrived so we needed to head into Blairsville 16 miles away. A hotel room was not a bad idea given the thunder storms that were forecast.
We took the dual approach of calling shuttles and hitching when a Honda Accord stopped to give us a ride. The driver was Jearold “Cotton.” He picked us up and dropped us in town and since had to come back this way in the morning offered to give us a ride back to the trail in the morning. Our first experience of trail magic, and what a great experience it was. He showed us some of the prose he’d written about hiking and life in general. Great stuff! As often the case don’t judge a book by its cover.
We all showered and had a great dinner. Then we went to sleep, only to be awoken by the storms that this time we were lucky enough to dodge. Breakfast at Hole In The Wall a ride back to the trail and we were on our way! The big day, the company, and meeting “Cotton” made for a great start! Sent from my iPhone
Headed to the southern terminus of the AT via the Approach Trail. Left at 8am but noticed my whistle was missing. Did a u-turn and found it on the road outside the lodge (whew). A minor half hour lost. The folks at Ramsey cautioned me about the Approach Trail. They speak the truth, it was annoying. Arrived at Springer, the real start at about 12:15. Took a picture or two
and pushed through to Stover Creek Shelter. Meet lots of people on the trail. Froggy Pete a self proclaimed AT obsessive has done a through hike or two, some sections and at 74 was back on the trail. I would meet someone older at the shelter (80).
I learned an important lesson having spent the night in the shelter. Don’t be the first on the outside. You block the wind for everyone else and freeze in the process. Ugh!
Meet a few other good folks during the day that I hope to hike with in the coming days. Sent from my iPhone
Arrived at Amicalola this afternoon, compliments of my sister-in-law (thank you Christine). Signed in at the visitor center. I was number 1258 for those thru hikers that have taken the time to sign in! Have already meet four others that will be starting their hikes tomorrow. I imagine at some point I will bump into them again. Looks like it will be a nice day to start. I have been thinking about what would be best to start in, nice weather or rainy weather? Wow, isn’t this great, versus, well it probably can’t get much worse than this! Looks like the former, which is fine by me! Heard that cell service over the next few days is spotty (what, you can’t hear me now) so no idea when next post could be. Regardless, onwards and upwards (literally). Sent from my iPhone
On Saturday April 2, after a brief delay (postponement?) I will be flying to Atlanta to commence my thru hike attempt. I’ll leave Monday morning April 4th on the approach trail to Springer Mt. Picking up where my last post left off, I’ve spent time revamping my trail diet, removing primarily the sugar intake. If you’re into current nutrition trends, I’d label my diet as neo-paleo. I’m hoping the continuous burn of calories (at a minimum 4,000 per day) makes the fat intake a non-issue. And hopefully, the recent medical results a non-issue as well. That’s certainly what the neo-paleo folks promise. Although this could change at any point on the trail, I feel like I’ve got my food dialed in: approximately two pounds per day delivering those needed 4k calories. I’ve got a few mail drops ready to go as well!
The delay and hopefully warmer temps has also allowed me to remove an item or two from my gear list (sleeping bag liner for one), lightening the load a bit!
And, as important, the new battery is installed in the lawn tractor, providing endless joy to my primary supply resource, my wife Diane. No seriously, she loves zipping around on the tractor. Weed (hey, not that weed) sticking out the side of her mouth, straw hat. You get the picture. Well, maybe not the straw hat but certainly the weed.
So, in the immortal words of my good friend Andy (friend only via too much time spent in front of the TV) “get busy living or get busy dying.”
Wishing everyone a great spring and summer.