As per the previous entry, my text is coming from my trail journal and my reflections at the end of each day or the following morning before breaking camp. If you’d like to see the video, it’s here. Photos down below.
Miles Days 4-6: 28.6
Day 4: Henry Gap to Neels Gap (Slackpack). 7 miles
We had a lot of fun with Donald and Mary of Further Appalachian Shuttle at their new hang the Grateful Hiker and at the Seasons Inn in Blairsville, Ga. We did the $6.99 pizza AYCE buffet next door and I had two plates! We dried all our stuff out .We packed our slackpack stuff and after an awesome breakfast at Hole in the Wall we got up to Neels Gap to drop our packs and went back to Henry Gap and it was cold and clear. A great hike up and over Blood Mountain and met a lot of folks including a dog who’s trail name was “Misdemeanor”! We also met Sarge up there. The north side of Blood was like the north side of Bear in Connecticut, but was dry and fun! Resupplied from the shop at Mountain Crossings and got some food and just enjoyed it in the bunk room and hostel, while meeting some new friends and hikers including a guy from France who had just done the 40 miles from Amicalola to here in 36 hours! We will never see him again. We will be off to Low Gap shelter tomorrow and should see Oso again, he’s at the cabins nearby tonight. Gonna get a shower now at the hostel. We watched Moby Dick and Last of the Mohicans and talked to thru hiker Neal and Mountain Crossings manager “Worldwide”. He had a lot of cool stories.
Day 5: Neels Gap to Low Gap shelter. 11.8 miles (including shelter trail)
(written the next morning, the morning of day 6)
A good climb out of Neels Gap on a brisk morning. 11.8 tough miles with lots of views before arriving at Low Gap shelter. Cowrock mountain had great views as did the next one. Since it’s winter we have views all day long when it’s clear. There were a lot of people out enjoying the holiday weekend. There were lots of really steep ups and downs especially out of Tesnatee Gap. We met some maintainers out on the trail before Low Gap. There was a great creek there and a great crew. We caught up with Oso just after Neels so he was there plus about 12 others. Thru, weekend, and other section hikers and 3 dogs including Molly or “weezy” who we followed up trail. We met Neal again at the shelter and he made a great fire. I really enjoyed that night until it got so cold and despite my extra pad and layers my bag just did not cut it so I made the call to end at Unicoi Gap the next day so as not to risk another dangerous night with the wrong gear. I let everyone know I would be getting off at Unicoi and arranged my shuttle and ride to Atlanta. We also met Woodstock from Alabama at Low Gap and I learned some Appalachian Talk like “Djeet” and “Mayonaise” from him! Lots of laughs.
Day 6: Low Gap shelter to Unicoi Gap. 9.8 miles, FINALE
(written the next morning, the morning of day 7, my return day)
Much or almost half of this was level and nearly and the locals and maintainers all said this was the “flat” section. But lots more rocks and the hills that were there were still good climbs and descents but it was only 1,880ft of elevation over 10 miles. Hiked my last day with my friends Rockflipper and Oso and had some goodbyes at Blue Mountain shelter. Neal too. Also met Odin. Then it was my turn to do my first real miles alone. It was another 300ft up then a 1,000ft descent, luckily a long gradual one. Mary met me coming down the hill then we spent some time at the Grateful Hiker before heading down to their friend Whittle’s (a GATC maintainer) in Atlanta for the night and he will take me to the airport soon. My second toe on my right foot is pretty banged up and probably would be losing a nail. I miss everyone already but am fulfilled. I never did catch up with Fresh Ground though. No mind, I got every part of the experience I really wanted, and felt strong! All that working out and winter hiking was good prep for the strenuous nature of this trail.
If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on why I ended the hike early (and considering the recent A.T. news and weather forecast, I’m still good with that choice), I posted another video discussing it all here.
Thanks for following along. I look forward to hiking with my new friends when they reach my area, and if I’m able maybe I will even hike with them a bit up north or down south again if time allows. For now, I am content with having such an incredible experience. Warning there is a picture of my blue toe! Also I included my sketch of Blue Mountain shelter.