Georgia Appalachian Trail Section Hike Days 4-6

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.

— Linus

Drying out at the Seasons Inn Blairsville

Drying out at the Seasons Inn Blairsville

KT tape to the rescue!

KT tape to the rescue!

Resupply planning

Resupply planning

Breakfast at Hole in the Wall Blairsville

Breakfast at Hole in the Wall Blairsville

The profile for the climb over Blood Mtn

The profile for the climb over Blood Mtn

Ice needles, when its really cold

Ice needles, when its really cold

The stone shelter on Blood Mountain summit

The stone shelter on Blood Mountain summit

Inside the stone shelter on Blood Mountain

Inside the stone shelter on Blood Mountain

Linus on Blood Mountain

Linus on Blood Mountain

Meeting people on Blood Mountain

Meeting people on Blood Mountain

The view from Blood mountain

The view from Blood mountain

Fun rock formation gag on Blood Mountain

Fun rock formation gag on Blood Mountain

Mountain Crossings

Mountain Crossings

Quick fuel up at Mountain Crossings

Quick fuel up at Mountain Crossings

The abandoned boot tree at Mountain Crossings

The abandoned boot tree at Mountain Crossings

Arriving at Mountain Crossings

Arriving at Mountain Crossings

The bunkroom at Mountain Crossings

The bunkroom at Mountain Crossings

Blood Mountain sign at Mountain Crossings

Blood Mountain sign at Mountain Crossings

View north of Neels Gap

View north of Neels Gap

Hog Pen Gap

Hog Pen Gap

Low Gap shelter

Low Gap shelter

At Low Gap shelter

At Low Gap shelter

The 11.8 day from Neel Gap to Low Gap shelter

The 11.8 day from Neel Gap to Low Gap shelter

Icicles everywhere

Icicles everywhere

Oso en guard!

Oso en guard!

Linus at a cascade

Linus at a cascade

Climbing the rocks up to Blue Mountain shelter

Rockflipper Climbing the rocks up to Blue Mountain shelter

Linus and Oso

Linus and Oso

Blue Mountain Shelter, drawing by Linus

Blue Mountain Shelter, drawing by Linus

Linus on his final steps into Unicoi Gap

Linus on his final steps into Unicoi Gap

Blue toenail!

Blue toenail!

 

 

 

Georgia Appalachian Trail Section Hike Days 1-3

Last week I had the privilege of backpacking the Georgia Appalachian Trail. While I planned for up to 2 weeks, the weather was quite erratic and the cold temperatures bested my sleeping bag and all the warm gear I threw at it. I made the call after day 6 to end early as I couldn’t drop $600-800 on a zero degree bag (and wouldn’t for a section hike) and will come back to finish Georgia and make it up to Deep Gap, NC as planned when it’s warmer and the crowds have gone through. I was at the very front end of the bubble so I still found shelter space and had the honor of accompanying some new thru hikers for their first 53 miles north.

My format for this will be to copy verbatim from my trail journal that I wrote when arriving at camp or a hostel or town each day. I have already completed the video, and you can find that here, if you prefer that format. Everything in italics is an afterthought or comment I made that wasn’t in the journal itself. Photos are below the journal entries.

Miles Day 1-3:  25.7 (including the mile southbound up Springer Mountain before heading back north.

Day 1: Springer Lot to Springer Summit to Hawk Mountain shelter. 9.1 miles

Heavy rain at start, until back at the Springer lot, met Jarhead and his dog, I think they were heading into town because his dog popped his inflatable pad. Mostly downhill and flat until long climb up Hawk Mountain from Three Forks. Missed the turnoff to Long Creek Falls. Started to downpour about 2 miles before the shelter. Here with a crew of 5 and local day hiker Jamie Hiikes. We tried (or rather Paul did) to make a fire but its all wet and windy and is starting to rain again. Going to have dinner soon then sleep — was up early at Donald and Mary’s (Further Appalachian Shuttle) so I should sleep ok.

Day 2: Hawk Mountain Shelter to Gooch Mountain shelter. 7.6 miles

Got out around 9, with Rockflipper – and I got ahead of him on Sassafras, which normally would kick one’s ass-afras but I felt strong and crushed it. Too bad the view of Atlanta and the Marietta owl towers was a whiteout. Got a few views before the rain. Justus was mercifully re-routed but I still had some climb up it, plus a few more, and 2 exciting creek crossings including Justus creek. I took my boots off for both, and that’s actually good as clean feet also means less blisters. The water was warmish and felt good but I did tear a sock so I’ll get another pair at Neels Gap. Beautiful hike and I saw Mary who was shuttling out the hikers I shared a bunk with the night before, as one of them got sick. People left water at Horse Gap and Cooper Gap

 Afterthoughts: (not in my journal)  … and I found out later it was two hikers that joined us at the shelter this night: Lefty and another gentleman who didn’t have a trail name yet. They had a lot of extra so they dropped it there before hitting the trail themselves.

I just got to the shelter and had lunch and rockflipper is here now. Time to hang and have fun. And roll my muscles out.

 Afterthoughts: (not in my journal) : I picked that up from Early Riser, and with that and eating banana chips daily I didn’t have a single charlie horse! I also learned later from Whittle that I could use my trekking poles to do that too — just gotta do it before I set up my tent if using my tent as they hold it up!

Day 3: Gooch Mountain Shelter to Henry Gap. 9 miles

It was torrential rain all night and thunder and lightning in the early AM. It all got wet, some rain blowing in sideways.  Lefty and his friend had came in to camp later last night as did Oso who is one of my friends now. He hikes with Sleeves and knows him well. We made a video in the AM before McGyver and Snuggles (Paul) and everyone left.  The two late arrivals headed for Neels Gap then Blairsville and Snuggles and McGyver are taking a few days in Dahlonega to switch out some gear. Rain stopped shortly after leaving camp and rockflipper and I headed up Ramrock and Big Cedar — both big climbs but we did get the views on Ramrock before it socked in at Preacher’s rock, where we met some nice local hikers. We checked out Woody Gap and took pics there too. Some pretty cascades on the trail south of Henry Gap where we got off. Mary came out to get us on the trail and we went back to get a room at the Seasons Inn in Blairsville and hang at the Grateful hiker. Then the AYCE (all you can eat) pizza buffet smash! Now we just finished organizing all our stuff for the day/slackpack to Neels Gap tomorrow and tomorrow’s resupply and stay at Mountain Crossings. Enjoying the warm room, hot shower and toilet and town food. Did laundry too and dried out our stuff in a yard sale all over the room. We leave at 10 tomorrow and hope to hit Mountain Crossings by 330. It’s 7 miles, much of it uphill. Bringing my spikes in case it’s icy but starting late so that can melt off a bit.

— Linus

The weather wasn't promising

The weather wasn’t promising

At the Atlanta airport - it's like they knew!

At the Atlanta airport – it’s like they knew!

The Further Appalachian Shuttle and Grateful hiker are awesome check them out- based out of Blairsville

The Further Appalachian Shuttle and Grateful hiker are awesome check them out- based out of Blairsville

At the Springer Mountain lot

At the Springer Mountain lot

On top of Springer

On top of Springer

A shoutout from my shuttle

A shoutout from my shuttle

Refilling my water

Refilling my water

Three forks - all the creeks were super high

Three forks – all the creeks were super high

Hawk Mountain shelter

Hawk Mountain shelter

Paul and Jamie trying to make a fire but everything was saturated

Paul and Jamie trying to make a fire but everything was saturated

Rhodendron tunnels

Rhodendron tunnels

Justus creek crossing

Justus creek crossing

Creek crossing in my water / camp shoes

Creek crossing in my water / camp shoes

Linus on Ramrock Mountain

Linus on Ramrock Mountain

Resting in Blairsville at the Seasons Inn

Resting in Blairsville at the Seasons Inn

KT tape to the rescue for hotspots that almost became blisters

KT tape to the rescue for hotspots that almost became blisters

Linus and Rockflipper at Preacher's rock, Big Cedar Mountain

Linus and Rockflipper at Preacher’s rock, Big Cedar Mountain

Linus at Henry Gap

Linus at Henry Gap