April 1 Justus Creek to Neel Gap
Got packed up and moving shortly after 8 this AM.
1.8 miles down the trail I reached Gooch Mtn Shelter. There is a privy there. Much preferred to holes in the woods!
Shortly after Gooch Mtn is Gooch Gap. Gaps are basically valleys between mountains. You go down to the Gap and then up another Mtn. This is Ramrock Mtn (elevation 3222 ft). Not high by western standards but there are some physically challenging stretches.
Uphill vs downhill…Both kind of suck! Uphill kills your lungs. Downhill hurts your feet, knees, thighs and hips.
I’ve been drinking water straight from streams. Crystal clear, cold, and tastes great. Not purifying yet because it tastes too good. Only getting from higher elevations.
Had lunch at top of Big Cedar Mtn (elev 3737). Met 3 young thru-hikers. Shared some of my snacks with them as I am carrying way too much food. They thought deer jerky was “righteous”!
Big decision of hike so far…Bear canisters required for camping between miles 26.4 and 31.4. I don’t have canister (too heavy) so stop before or stretch it through. These 5 miles would be over tallest mountain in GA so would probably take at least 3 hrs. Decided if I got to beginning of area by 3PM I’d go for it. Got there right at 3 and went!
Brutal hike up Blood Mtn. Got to top about 5. Below is shelter on top of Mtn. Very nice structure but if sleeping there it is concrete floor. Definitely not a Marriott!
Hike down the mountain took slightly more than an hour. Just slightly enough that I missed chance for shower, laundry, and bunk by 3 minutes. There is an outfitter with a bunk house at Gap. Unfortunately for me they closed at 6PM. I’m camping tonight about 1/4 of mile from there so will walk in and at least get a Coke in AM.
Couple of good blisters today, one on inside of each heel. Other than that, feel good.
Neel Gap is the spot where 25% of thru-hikers quit. So I kicked their butts!!