Day 1 and 2
First Two Days Down!
After spending the night at Springer Mountain Shelter with Poison Ivey and Guitar Hero (if you two are reading this, I hope you kept the Guitar Hero name I gave you), I got an early start at 0735. My goal was Woody Gap, 21 miles away. I left alone and saw no one for the first few hours. My plan was to take a snack break at the 5 mile mark, fuel up quick, then a lunch break at the 10 mile mark. So Horse Gap was my lunch break where I ran into my first Thru-Hiker, Eric. Another retired Army guy, who was a Ranger School vet. We chatted he left about 10 minutes before I was done lunch. It was at this point that I knew I had severely miscalculated my caloric needs. So my lunch consisted of the lunch for that day, and the lunch for tomorrow. I knew it would be a long hike…food is my single biggest weight, and I was going to have to carry a lot more of it.
I was doing a fair clip and caught up to Erick about 2 miles latter. At the 15 mile mark for my next snack I was feeling pretty good and still making good time. But at the 17 mile mark my food bonk hit hard. About the time I was passing Gooch Gap, where some people were grilling. I almost snapped and stopped there. Right after Gooch there was a sign stating 3.5 miles to Woody Gap. It was the longest 3.5 miles I have endured in a while. About a half a mile from WG, I ran into two other Thru-Hikers, Ryan and Tommy. They were staying at WG too, and were just filling up at the last good water source. There was a report of Norovirous from WG to Neels Gap. So I filled up and walked the last half mile to WG, arriving at 1745. We all set up tents and had dinner when Erick showed up. He set up with us. We got some trail magic beer from an AT volunteer while we planned our next day. We decided to go to Neels Gap to resupply and decide our attack after the resupply. Slept like a champ.
We got a bit of a late start, about 0810. We set out with all the water we would get before we got to NG, and that with Blood Mountain in our path. There was some light rain. We made good time going up hill, easy terrain. Then on the downhill’s I would break into a light jog, just let the weight of the pack push me down. I left my three companions. It was smooth sailing. After I started uphill again, I took a snack break and my three companions caught up. Ryan wanted to give me Wheels as a Trail Name. We walked uphill together for a while and then on the downhill I took off again. The rain started in earnest as I started up Blood Mountain. By the time I got to the top, it was miserable. Wind, clouds (at mountaintop level), and the temp dropped. I put my rain jacket on and headed down. It was rough going, but soon I hear cars and knew I was getting close to NG. Then I saw it, the stone building. By now it was about 45, raining hard, and windy. I got us all some cokes and snickers, I knew they were only about 5 to 10 min behind me, it was 10. We got a weather report, it would be this and then get worse. Although we only did just shy of 12 miles, we made a command decision, found a place to stay at Blood Mountain Cabins. $70 split 4 ways, no brainer. It ended up being the right call. The storms through North Georgia were pretty bad, trees getting knocked down from winds bad, pouring rain coming in sideways. So we ate hot food, showered, resupplied and they did our laundry, and watched the shit show outside.
Now I am about 7 miles shy of my Day 2 goal. So tomorrow I plan on doing a push for 24 miles to Rocky Mountain. Then again on the next day and I will be back on track. It will be cold tomorrow, but the rain will be over. The route is, relatively speaking pretty even, so I hope to make good time. My compatriots are pushing for about 18, and plan to stop at Blue Mountain Shelter. This could be the dismantling of our group, but I hope that we will continue to run into each other later up the Trail. We get on pretty well.
These first two days have been great. There were some rough points. A little soreness, but that was expected, a little foot pain from pounding on the rocks, but again expected. Looking forward to pushing hard tomorrow.
While I am hiking, I think about those who cant. I do not take this for granted. This is why I would like people reading this to look at the Gallant Few/Darby Project. Get the awareness out there. Also to my fellow Sua Sponte Elite Race Team members, a shout out to you all! Spread the word if you are a member or former member of the 75th you can be a part of this great organization!
Scuba Steve RLTW
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