Day 3: The Haul to Neels Gap

Miles Hiked: 16.7

Total Hiked: 32.4

It was another cold morning but I slept a little better. I’m not usually a side sleeper but it’s a nice use of space on the small mat. I was up by around 7 but waited until closer to 8 to get moving. The tent spots at the shelter were big enough for two and I remember the guy next to me had said he had been getting moving by 9 every day. I thought 8 was a good compromise. I packed up and started moving down the trail pretty quick. The cold has been making me do a mobile breakfast.

After passing Gooch Gap a hiker named Grace came up and passed me. We played leapfrog for a while with me being a little quicker on the uphills and her being quicker on the downhills. Eventually we matched our paces and hiked together for about 8 miles. She was a beast and pulling some big miles out of the gate. I listened as she expressed aspirations of setting speed records on the trail. If anyone I’ve ever met could do it, she could.

We made it to Lance Creek and I looked at the time. It was not even 11 am yet. Way too early to stop. I know I had planned on a shorter day but the temptation was too much and my legs felt fresh enough that another 8 or so miles seemed attainable. The pace of Grace was too much for me some time after that and she powered ahead.

The next thing to do was take on Blood Mountain. To this point there hadn’t really been a real climb but this one proved a challenge. As I usually do, I powered through the uphill. I just like to get it all done with at once. The shelter at the top of Blood Mountain was an awesome old stone building. It honestly didn’t look too inviting as a place to sleep but it was a cool site. As with Springer Mountain, it was pretty mobbed so I didn’t spend much time up top. When I see young kids I don’t usually linger too long to avoid getting stuck behind them on the descent.

Blood Mountain Shelter

The descent was pretty rough. It was fairly steep and there was a lot of mud and rocks. One thing I was thankful for was that I didn’t have to ascend on that side. After a seemingly endless downhill, I finally reached Neel Gap. It was pretty surreal to see a place I had seen so much of online. As with other things on the trail, my prior imaginations of the place dissolved away and were replaced with real memories.

I spent about an hour there as I resupplied and found an outlet to charge my devices. I was a little worried about finding charging locations on the trail but it’s easier than I thought. A Cherry coke and bag of Doritos called to me and I enjoyed them as I let my feet rest.

Tree of shoes

Bull Gap was only a mile away and I enjoyed the sun as I set up my tent. The camping area was decently packed but again it was nice to converse with some new people. I love the optimism that I run into out here and I love hearing everybody’s stories. After a somewhat pathetic bear hang and my first cat hole, I made my way to sleep. Tomorrow is a mystery as far as mileage goes with several options along the way. Overall it was another great day and I’m slowly becoming more and more comfortable with everything.

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Comments 1

  • Jessie : Mar 30th

    Love reading about your experience on the trail!


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