Neel Gap to Dicks Creek Gap – Trail Name Big Sky
Packed and ready to leave Blood Mountain Cabins and Neel Gap at 8 a.m. I went to drop off my key and one of their cats (gray and white) led me back to my cabin. Even though I’d never seen it leave the porch it knew where I was staying. Great stay at Blood Mountain Cabins .2 miles from Neel Gap. I left all my cords and plugs there and they sent them ahead to Hiawassee. Trail karma coming back to me.
One of my water stops is pictured below. I’m using a Platypus gravity system with a 3L CNOC bag.
The gentleman who helped pick out a new headlamp wishes me happy trails just after I pass through Neel Gap
Feb. 26: I had two trail magic experiences after leaving Neel Gap. The first was Mountain Dew and cherry pie on the way down from the picture below (elevation 3,806 feet). It was given by a man who runs a local, pet-friendly cabin/hotel. You can probably find the name of that place from Hiking with Braids on YouTube. I drank her Mountain Dew and I’m sorry. Roy follows up with a clementine at the Union County/White County highway crossing.
After my longest hike of 12.8 miles I stop at Poplar Stamp Gap and am joined by Liberty, the chocolate lab and Chives. Chives got his name because he picked fresh chives for dinner. It was a cold night and the wind sounded like 18-wheelers driving by.
Feb. 27: Mine are the first feet on the trail and will be so for a couple of miles.
Swallow Creek Highway crossing and me with a plaque. Picture courtesy of gentleman from New Hampshire section hiking with his son who is thru-hiking.
After 12 miles I settle in to the Cheese Factory camp site with about six other tents. Another cold night with not enough sleep because I’m anticipating a civilization trip to Hiawassee.
Big news!!! I have a trail name. Big Sky given to me by PB&J. A couple of free spirits from Virginia who delight in their trail food and giving out trail names.
Feb. 28: I am up at 5 a.m. and on the trail to Dicks Creek Gap and Hiawassee. I screwed up my Jetboil cook system by leaving some water in it. I always try to save a little water to rinse out that last bit of food and forgot to use it. No hot food or coffee this morning, but once it’s dry again the cook system works fine.
So I have a cold-morning routine. Pull all my hiking clothes into the sleeping bag to warm them up. Deflate pillow and air mattress and roll them up. Change into hiking gear, make breakfast and coffee, and roll up sleeping bag. Today I figured out that using my foot to force my sleeping bag into the bottom of the backpack works well. Out of the tent and pack the tent. The other day my tent cover was iced up, so I strapped it to the outside. On the trail.
I stopped at 10 a.m. to arrange a shuttle with Sally and Joyce for 4:30 p.m. at Dicks Creek Gap. The shuttle drivers have been great.
Ron: Atlanta to Amicalola, 706-669-0919
Mike and Suzanne: 352-322-0822. Ride to convenience store. I reached out for a ride, but he was unavailable. He gave me 14 alternate shuttle drivers, a veterinary contact, hotels, hospitals, and checked back in to make sure I had a ride.
Jeff Moonn: 706-994-2307. He didn’t drive me. He was picking up two other hikers at Dicks Creek Gap and allowed me to warm up in his Jeep while we waited.
So I hustled down to Dicks Creek Gap and fell twice in the snow. There were a few icy spots, but nothing worthy of microspikes. 13.1. miles, tallest peak so far at 4,144 feet, and I am done about an hour and a half early.
As I am waiting for my shuttle, everyone driving by is taking pictures of the snow. It does not snow here often. A guy offers me a ride and when I tell him I have a shuttle he says, “Stay strong.” Thank you, sir.
Sally and Joyce: 706-896-9339. Pick me up early, give me a quick tour, recommendations for everything town, and I’m in my hotel room just before 5.
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