Day 2: The Real Day 1

Miles Hiked: 12.9

Total Hiked: 15.7

Sleep was a bit hard to come by last night. I was tossing and turning a lot and just when I would get comfortable a part of my body exposed from the cold would jolt me awake demanding to be warmed. Around 3 o’clock I woke up with a full bladder but there was no way I was leaving my cocoon of warmth so I forced the thought away until eventually it was 6 o’clock and waking felt more reasonable. Despite all that I was pretty refreshed in the morning.

I packed up as quickly as I could so I could get back out to the trail and warm up. Unfortunately, I was hit with the small hurdle of my headlamp being out of batteries. I swear I checked that but it was a minor mistake in the grand scheme of things. Mountain Crossing was in a couple days so I just waited for it to be light enough to move and then went for it.

The morning was great. Nice flat trails through rhododendron tunnels alongside a river. It was the perfect start to work out some minor aches and pains I had in the morning. I made my way quickly to Hawk Mountain Shelter and stopped for an early lunch with an uncle and niece who were at the same campsite before. We chatted and exchanged names and talked about stopping at the same shelter that night, which was Gooch Mountain Shelter.

Earl morning rhododendron tunnel

With no camping allowed between Jarret Gap and Neel Gap, Gooch Mountain Shelter put me in a weird spot to do two shorter days into Neel Gap or two medium sized days including Day 2. I was going to hike to Gooch and see how I felt from there.

I buzzed past several gaps and peaks as I struggled with layering and delayering. I would start out cold so I geared up to stay warm. Then I would get hot and de-layer. Rinse and repeat for several miles. It was slightly frustrating but ultimately I stayed warm, which is most important. As I arrived in Cooper Gap, I ran into my first trail magic. I didn’t take the gentleman up on it as I had plenty of food and not much of an appetite yet, but it was cool to finally see that.

Warmth was brought to me around 2pm as I escaped the wind and was in a lower level valley. I sauntered slowly through there taking it in. I was starting to hit that days wall and Gooch Mountain Shelter was quickly approaching. I ran into a guy I talked to in one the various gaps of the day and said he was going to go there and think it over. That sounded like a good idea to me as well.

I got to shelter with the intention of stretching and leaving but slowly I started to speak with some of my fellow hikers. Once the fire was lit I was sold. I’m glad I did stay. I tend be standoffish in new situations but I open up quickly if I make myself be social. I got talking to everyone that I had seen throughout the day and it felt nice. We talked about monotonous stuff like the cold, the days hikes, and what we did before the trail but it was pleasant.

View from one of the various peaks

The uncle and niece I met earlier made it to the shelter and said they were heading to Lance Creek next. I think I’ll be joining them. It will be my shortest day of the three at right around 8 miles but the weather will be pretty nice  tomorrow and it will be nice to give my legs a small break. A lesson I learned today is to be more in the moment and let go of plans for the day. Take what comes to you out here and enjoy it.

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Comments 6

  • John Groner : Mar 22nd

    Best of luck and I look forward to reading about your adventures!


  • Paulie Davis : Mar 22nd

    All good wishes! Looking forward to sharing your journey!!! ??️

  • Jessie : Mar 23rd

    Some great final words! So excited to read more!

  • Scott Riggins : Mar 23rd

    Nice work, Luke!

  • Chrissy : Mar 23rd

    We’re thinking about you everyday and anxiously await update. Keep up the pace!

  • Barb : Mar 23rd

    Way to go Luke! Loved reading your post. Take care and be safe and enjoy your journey


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