Drizzly day today. We woke in the dry Gooch Gap shelter, knowing that most of our wet gear was still in the packs. There were ten people in the shelter and another eight in tents. Four of the young guys upstairs had met for the first time on Saturday and were already good friends. They were a trip and had taken a zero day in the shelter on Monday to dry their tents.
We walked in the clouds, which had condensation from the branches dripping on us most of the day. Because you can’t camp in the five miles between Jarrard Gap and Neel’s Gap without a bear box, we decided to make today a long one. A bear box would have had to have been purchased earlier and carried for about eight miles to where we wanted to camp, so we opted to do a 16 mile day instead of seven had we stopped at Lance Creek campsite.
When we crossed GA 60 in the mist, we were surprised by four trail angels in Woody Gap who had a fire going. They were cooking hotdogs, hot chocolate, and coffee for us. There were chips, brownies, orange slices, and soda. Eight of us who were hiking more quickly hung out there for 45 minutes enjoying the food and conversations before heading out. Our group — the four friends, another guy, Maria, who is from the University of Vermont, and us — decided to push through for the next eleven miles over Blood Mountain and into Neels Gap, where we could get rooms and dry our gear.
We ascended Blood Mountain around 4:30 pm. The last five times I was on Blood were cloudy with no views, but this time the sun magically broke through. It was fantastic. Bennett and I got some sunburn on our faces. We departed the top of Blood behind the five guys and Maria, who we’d been inch worming behind all day. We arrived in Neels Gap around 5:30 pm in the mist and found out that the Walasi-Yi Inn hostel was full and there was only 1/2 of a shareable cabin available at the Blood Mountain Cabins. That meant that there was no room for the group of five, but Bennett and I could fit!
We wandered down and knocked on the door of the Fox cabin. One of the older hikers from the shelter that had hiked past all of us on Blood openend the door and welcomed us in. We cooked a frozen pizza that Bennett bought at Neels Gap, dried our stuff on the deck, and were able to get a load of laundry done. I got sick, which hopefully was just the pizza not agreeing with me rather than the first signs of the norovirus.
Bennett and I slept upstairs in the loft in a double bed. I woke at five a.m. to the sound of condensation dripping on the roof, so I grabbed all of our wet gear from the deck and hung it inside the cabin. Day 4 begins!
After a pleasant stay at the Blood Mountain cabins last night, we headed out at 10:00 a.m. toward Low Gap shelter, which is 10.8 tough miles toward Unicoi Gap. Tomorrow we shoot for Unicoi Gap and either visit Helen or trek on for Dicks Creek Gap on Saturday mid-day.
We’re are about 42 miles in after 4 days, which is good for the first week of getting your hiking legs warmed up. It is crowded at this shelter and many hikers are in tents and hammocks. I really need to shake loose the pot-smoking, dred-haired hikers.
I’m surprised that we have AT&T signal here, being that this is between roads. The hard part of reaching here were the climbs up Wildcat Mountain out of Tesnatee Gap and the steep climbs approaching this shelter. We are deep in a valley here. The clouds never cleared today, but it should be sunny for most of the day tomorrow.