Hello from Neel Gap

This is my first update from the trail. I am writing this post from my mobile; please excuse any typographical or formatting inconsistencies. 

So far, so good

I’m writing this from the comfort of a bed at Blood Mountain Cabins ($72/night) which is a short hike from Mountain Crossings. I think I turned the heat up 1 degree too high since I keep having to stick my leg out from under my quilt whenever it kicks on. 

There is no K in Neel

My long-time friend Kurt (Trail name: Kneels) was picked up by his wife and youngest son last night after successfully completing his first ever hiking and camping adventure. ~32 miles in under 48 hours with one night spent huddled in my tent cursing the rain. I didn’t know what to expect but Kneels stayed on my heels for the entire hike. In fact, he helped me test the durability of my carbon fiber poles about 20 times by stepping on the tips as they lagged behind me. Both the poles and Kneels showed they can take a beating and keep on hiking! 

People on the trail

There were 40 people at Gooch Gap Shelter on Tuesday night. We were the 2nd group to roll up at 11am after a 13 mile day but decided to set up our tent instead of claiming shelter space (tent > shelter). Over the next 6 hours 40 people rolled in and many-o-tent ended up pitched on a slope as the prime spots filled quickly. 

As the rain set in, we had about 10 different conversations going at once as we huddled under the shelter waiting as long as possible until retreating to our tents. 

Someone behind me was craving some booze and I let them know on the sly that I may have some homemade libations in my tent. A few minutes later I hear “Hey, Moonshine”. My trail name is revealed. 

Ray of Sunshine

Trail magic is real, kids. Ray of Sunshine (nobo 2016..or 15) hiked some pizza to Gooch Gap Shelter in the rain and was waiting for us at the first crossing the following morning with chips, Gatorade, and sodas. We were as thrilled to receive as he was to give. Thanks Ray!


Kneels and I did 5 miles day 1 after a late afternoon start from the top of Springer. 13 day 2 from Gooch, and 16 yesterday to reach Neel Gap and his ride home. My knees are a little sore.

Met Cavey on the trail yesterday afternoon and split this here cabin and a couple pizzas with him. (Pro tip: get pizza at the cabins, not Mountain Crossings).  We’re going to set out together this morning as I bring my pace down to 10/day for a couple revolutions of the sun. 


Mostly pleased. Added a Nemo Fillo pillow, a different food sack, and going to give alcohol stove a shot and ditch the canister. I picked up a 2nd buff to act as a towel since my wool one doesn’t absorb. 


Turns out I’m carrying more than I need and that’s OK. I wanna be ready when the hiker hunger sets in. It isn’t far off. My pack is sub 20 pounds even with the extra food. Sticky buns and powdered donuts…..Droooooool.

All in all, things are going great!

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Comments 2

  • Ginny and Randy Hagin (and kids) : Apr 6th

    We know that Trail Magic is real! We were met by Ray of Sunshine (and his mom) at Blackburn after two grueling days of newbie trecking on the Rollercoaster. He came bearing my craving: Cherry Pepsi! We decided to come off trail at that point (there were severe storms predicted the following day and we had our two boys on the trail with us) and head into Harpers Ferry for the night. Ray of Sunshine recommended a clean, inexpensive place to crash for the night. We met up with him the following day at the AT Conservancy HQ. Good man.

    Wishing you safety and comfort for the rest of your journey!


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