Approach Trail to Neels Gap Scorecard

I’m currently holed up in a hotel in Blairsville, Georgia, taking a zero day due to some nasty weather and nasty blisters. It seemed like a perfect day to get the first blog posted but when I mentioned the idea out loud to some friends, I made a noise kind of like “huuuuuuyyyyuuuuuhhhh.” I’m tired and not feeling it, but here goes anyway:

 

Miles Walked

31.4 miles plus the 8.8 of the approach trail, which I will probably add as an asterisk for another week or so because the approach trail was HARD.

bridge-over-waterfall

 

Coolest Realization

How quickly meeting someone can turn into an actual friendship. You’ll walk with someone for a day and then you’re crammed up next to them on a cabin floor.

 

Less Cool Realization

White blazes (the trail markers) are the same color as snow. While this is also a candidate for Low Point, I went over Blood Mountain during the height of a snowstorm. It was only 5 miles into Neels Gap and with friends in a cabin there, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about camping. But the white blazes on those giant asshole rocks were totally covered, so I’d inch around each icy rock face looking into every enclave for footprints, following some to find dead ends where the other person had turned around as well. Those 5 miles felt like they took 5 years, and I definitely cried once and texted my mom that I was going to die several times, which I’m sure made her feel great.

becky-snow-selfie

 

High Point

Like almost everyone, I stayed at the hiker hostel the night before I started, in a bunk room with four other people who were also starting out the next day. I woke up the next morning at around 6 am, the sun barely risen as I sat on the edge of my bunk and brushed my hair. This guy named Graham from the UK sat up across from me,  rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, glanced over and deadpanned, “Got any big plans for the day?” I’m not sure why that felt like such an appropriate start to the trip, but it definitely made me laugh.

 

Low Point

The first night on Springer Mountain was punctuated by a HUGE thunderstorm. I’ve seen thunderstorms from afar before, but have never been stuck in the middle of one on a mountaintop like that, listening to the thunder and lightning grow closer and closer together. At the height of it, I could see the lightning even with my head buried in my thick down sleeping bag. I also texted my dad that I was going to die, which I’m sure made him feel great.

 

MVPs of the Week

Both of my parents for their calming text conversations.

 

Skills Learned

  • how to defrost the rope around a bear bag with your spit so you can open it and eat breakfast.
  • how to drain a blister with a safety pin and an alcohol wipe found in a hiker box.

 

Feet Report

Toenails remain unscathed, but I was sporting as many as 7 blisters at one point, so my feet are enjoying my zero day.

final-blister

 

Final Score

While I am amazed by the kindness and sense of community on the trail, from the section hiker from Florida who helped me knock down my bear bag after the rope froze to a tree to the hostel full of people who helped me comb through hiker boxes looking for safety pins, the weather and blisters made this a brutal first week. I give it 3 out of 10 fudge stripe cookies.

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Comments 8

  • Avatar
    ZEDS : Mar 15th

    Great scorecard!! Warm weather is coming, keep on going and can’t wait to read you’re next report. My husband (2EZ) is starting Saturday. Best of luck on the trail!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Leigh : Mar 19th

    Hey my son is thru hiking right now too. Maybe you have met him. He’s been given the Trail name Iowa.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Becky : Mar 19th

      He says, “Hi mom!”

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Ernie Lukacs : Mar 19th

    Keep up the…… oh great job!!!! Things will get better!!!!! Keep a close eye on those blisters!! No infections! Keep on trucking ???

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Grandy : Mar 20th

    Hey. We are thinking and talking about your trek! Where can we send a package ahead? The NYTimes reported that the best blister protection is Paper Tape (medical). We will send you some.
    Love to you and your feet!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    EJ Johnson : Mar 22nd

    I am enjoying you adventure from the safety of my office. Can one be envious and happy at the same time? I looked it up, and found the word “compersion” The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy. I am going with that. Keep sharing the joy, Becky!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    DaraT : Apr 16th

    I’m dreaming of walking the AT one day. Was that a picture of the Approach Trail? Love those Fudge Stripes’

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Richard Booroojian : Apr 21st

      In case Becky doesn’t see this, that was indeed the Approach Trail from the bottom.

      Reply

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