We started out the morning with more trail magic from the church group with half a breakfast sandwich and letting us throw out trash we had accumulated over the past few days. Along the Appalachian Trail there is a Leave No Trace policy and on the “rules” is to pack out all of you or trash. I slept terribly that night because the guy in the tent next to us snored the entire night. Despite the fact that my sleep cycles have been short-lived every night, I haven’t felt tired during the day, so that’s a plus. Trail food is energy and sleep is a way to rest your body so that it can continue to hike. So far, the hiking and meeting new people has been the best part.
We hiked over Ramrock Mountain in the morning and made it to Woody Gap before noon. There was more trail magic in the parking lot from an older couple and a church group from the Atlanta area. There was a ton of food: hamburgers, hot dogs, Krispy Kremes, Oreos, other snacks, soda, and water. They also had first aid supplies, toiletries, and foot massages. I got an amazing foot massage from Kim and had a good amount of food before setting off again. Everyone was really nice and we have definitely gotten our fair share of trail magic over the weekend.
We hiked over Big Cedar Mountain next and had planned on camping at Lance Creek tonight, but apparently they extended the bear canister area to here. We had read that the area between Jarrard Gap and Neels Gap and required a bear canister if you we’re going to camp there, so we had planned ahead of time to camp before we entered that area. We heard later that the sign at the campsite was really more about trying to scare off people from partying in the area. We made the decision about 10 til 2:00 to push on through the bear canister area and hike to the Mountain Crossings Hostel at Neels Gap. We only had a few hours to hike 7.5 miles so we pushed on with hardly any breaks. This wasn’t our original plan, because we didn’t want to push ourselves too hard in the beginning. We pushed up over Blood Mountain at the end of the day, our first 4,000 footer. 4,458 ft to be exact. It was a long and tough day, but we made it in one piece and a blister to show for it. We made it to Neels Gap around 4:45 and to our surprise, there were still bunks available! We got a couple of bunks and picked up our mail drop.
The church group from Atlanta served up more trail magic in the form of dinner at the hostel. Lasagna, salad, and brownies. Man, have we been lucky with trail magic so far.
We hiked 14.5 miles and really, by the end of the day, didn’t feel as bad as I thought we would. One of the guys we’ve been hiking with, Matt, also made it to the hostel. We had a good time jus hanging out with everyone and watching Woodstock and The Doors documentary. I got a nice, hot shower and we’re going to do laundry this morning. After receiving so much trail magic, we ended up having to dump a bunch of our food in the hiker box. The extra Snickers bars were a hot commodity around here. And I finally got to listen to music for awhile since I’ve been able to charge my phone here at the hostel. I usually listen to music a lot during the day at home, so it was a luxury to listen away and not worry about battery life.
I still can’t believe we made it all the way to Neels Gap, but we have been developing a reputation as fast hikers. Besides yesterday afternoon, we haven’t been intentionally hiking fast and have taken our fair share of long breaks along the way. We’ve enjoyed the hiking so far and northern Georgia is beautiful. I’m glad we decided to push on because it started raining last night. We’ll do laundry here at the hostel and then head out into the rain.
We’re 31.7 miles in and have no intentions of quitting, so I think we’re doing pretty good.