Days 7-9: Low Gap Shelter to Dicks Creek Gap

Day 7

Most of today was a long ridge walk.  So far we have mostly been sticking pretty close to Dad.  One or the other of us would scoot ahead (mostly me as I’m the impatient one), but generally one of us would be nearby.  Today we saw there was a water source pretty soon into our hike, so we decided to forgo filtering water at the site and do so on trail. 

Jessica and I stop to filter and send Dad on ahead.  After we were done we take off to catch up.

Then we don’t.  We’re walking for 20 minutes.  No dad.  Walking for 30 minutes.  No dad.  We start to wonder if we could’ve missed him and contemplate going back to check.  At around 45 minutes we catch him and all breathe and a sigh of relief.

The first 5 or so miles of the hike had a pretty solid even trail, and he had just booked it!  Last 2 miles and change was rocky and steep though. 

Also passed the 50 mile mark today so feeling very good about that!

Our tent spot overnight at Low Gap Shelter.  They were so full that the tents spilled out all the way to the other side of the trail.

Dad and Jessica ahead of me.

Low Gap Shelter in the light of day. 

My tent got all kinds of debris in it.  This was my flailing attempt to get some of it out.

I think they call this hiker TV.

Miles hiked today: 7.3

Miles hiked total: 50.2

Day 8

Dad looked at the elevation change for today and decided that it would be best if he sat this small section out and came back to do it once he had his trail legs. 2 mountains, 2000 ft down, 2500 ft up, plus other incidental ups and downs.

So, we got up and it was super foggy.

 As we got started, it rained on us a little.  With the wind and cold we pulled out our rain gear and wore it for a while until it settled down.

We came down into Unicoi gap soon after to some trail magic (Beer, Moonshine, fruit, burgers, and hot dogs.).  I had beer and a few sips of the moonshine.  Note: I’ve yet to have trail magic alcohol after noon so far.

I passed on the food because Dad had been talking up this place in Helen GA as the best ruben on earth.  So around 11 we hitched down to Helen from Unicoi gap (hitch obtained in less than 5 minutes) and went to Cafe International for a ruben and beer.

The ruben was super tasty, but did not beat the place we went to in Flat Rock, MI for Carol’s brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner.  So #2 so far.  Our waitress talked with us for a while about the trail and sent me on with a bottle of beer to take on the trail.

Tim came by and gave me a ride back up to Unicoi and I hiked on solo to Tray Mtn Shelter.  Dad was not wrong, those two mountains were killers.

As I was going along I ran into a group we’ve been passing back and forth that stayed at the same site as us during the hail fiasco: Rain-x, Sarabi, and Danya.  I hiked the rest of the day with them and we all camped at Tray Mountain Shelter.

Unicorn (sp) Gap.

Jessica hitching a ride.

At Cafe International 

Rain-x, Sarabi,  Danya and I at the summit of Tray Mountain.  Carol says this isn’t the worst picture of me, but I’m not sure.

Miles hiked Today: 8.6

Miles hiked total: 58.3

Day 9

I got up and out pretty early – moving at 8:20.  Had the same fog issuss today.  

I went maybe a little faster on the downhills than in the past and I can tell and little bit in my knees tonight.

After I got to Dicks Creek Gap, Tim picked me up and we stopped at the top of Georgia hostel to grab the hat I ordered then went to a buffet in Hiawassee.  For dinner Dad was floored that I’d never been to zaxbys, so we went there.

I’m other news I’ve been craving the little strawberry candies that are packaged to look like strawberries.  They apparently stopped at 4 places earlier in the day looking for them and came up empty.  We went to 2 more in Hiawassee and didn’t find any.  It’s so weird, these things are ubiquitous, so why the hell can we not find them anywhere!?!?

Fog on the trail.

Swag of the Blue Ridge.  No idea what this means, at all.

Down in the lowlands off trail, a cherry tree blossoming.

Miles hiked today: 11

Miles hiked total: 69.3
We’re planning on being in NC in 2 days!

Day 5 -6 Neels Gap to Low Gap Shelter

Day 5 we did laundry in Blairsville and took our time eating a continental breakfast.  I played and little ingress while the laundry was going.

Afterward we got and hitch back up to the trail by a nice lady named Kenya who told us stories about the area.  Jessica and I did a quick shakedown of our packs at Mountains Crossing and then headed on to Bulls Gap.  

Miles hiked today: 1.1

Miles hiked total: 32.5

We knew storms were coming through so we got our stuff setup and bear bag prepared.  Some other folks at our site started a fire and passed around some fireball and rum.  Then the rain started – and we threw in our rain gear and bend put some rocks over the fire and talked through the lightning and thunder.

Then the hail started, so I ducked into my tent.  

Once I got down to my skivies, Jessica appeared outside my tent panicking, “Jeffrey help my tent is flooding!”  So, I jumped out and helped her and a few other folks move their tents out of puddles.  Got back in my tent and dried myself ands much as I could and climbed into my bag.

Took me a while to get warm but once I was I didn’t move again. 

Heavy storm came through overnight.

This is what we went through.  I had 2 tent stakes come up that needed to be reset during the night.  Jessica had a tent pole break in the middle of the night and had to duct tape it together while getting rained on.  One of dad’s poles bent.

Day 6

Climbed 5 mountains today.  It was exhausting.  

I believe this is on wildcat mountain. On the right is Ryan and some of his five kids he’s doing the trail with. You can read some of their stuff here:

At a road crossing we were met with some trail magic of bud light, Gatorade and fresh fruit.  

Jessica walked around like this all day die to her broken tent pole.  We put a splint on it but unfortunately where it broke precludes it from folding correctly. 

She called big agnes to use their warranty, but was told they wouldn’t cover it and she could pay them to send her a new pole section and a patch kit for the holes it tore in her tent and rainfly .  I was very disappointed.

Miles hiked today:  10.4

Miles hiked total: 42.9

Day 4 – Lance Creek to Neels Gap

First of all, Lance Creek campsite is nuts.  It’s a long road that winds up into the mountainside.  There are six designated tent pads on the road then it climbs up onto the mountainside.  There were probably 40 tents up that road on every available flat place.

We got there pretty late last night and so we were waaaay at the end.  When we woke up today a guy we were camping near wasn’t feeling well still (he’d been sick for a few days) and decided he needed to get off the trail.  He looked like he was having a seriously bad time, so we helped him get packed up and called ahead for a ride to pick him up at the next gap. 

Hiking wise, today was a LOT of uphill.  We went from one of the lowest places on the trail so far (2865ft) to the highest point so far – Blood Mountain (4457ft).  Blood Mountain stayed true to its name drawing blood from Dad after a trip on a root (he’s fine just a skinned knee).

It was beautiful up there and totally crazy that there was this giant stone structure up on top of this giant mountain.  

We agreed that after today’s climb we all needed a shower, bed, and laundry done.  So we called blood mountain cabins (from on top of blood mountain), only to find they were full.  We arranged a shuttle into Blairesville and got a room at hiker rates.  We’ll do laundry and head back up to Neels Gap tomorrow.  

Mountain Crossing.

Coming down off of Blood Mountain.

Some of our fellow hikers we expect to get ahead of us due to our slow day tomorrow. 

Springer to Lance Creek gap

Day 1 – Great weather!  We caught a shuttle up to the parking area .9 into the trail and then hiked up to Springer, came back down and headed on.  Our plan was to stop at Hawk Mountain campsite, but when we got there it was full, so we pushed to Hawk Mountain shelter and the mile 8.1.  Tons of people there.  

The trail was super muddy all the way from the parking area to the shelter.

Jessica and Dad being totally excited.

Long Creek Falls.

Miles north – 8.1

Day 2 – My brother Tim who was doing a section with us wasn’t feeling well and was thankfully able to come off at Hightower gap and get a ride back to woodstock.  

They say sassafras mountain kicks your ass – and they are not wrong.  It was tough.  Our first big climb. We ended at Gooch Mountain shelter.  When we got there all the tent sites were full, so we all spent the night in the shelter itself.  It was a little windy for my tastes but nothing too awful. 

Didn’t take a lot of pictures today, just some quick stuff with the 360 that doesn’t translate well.

Miles hiked today – 7.2

Miles hiked total – 15.8

Day 3 – woke up around 6:30, it was really cold.  I was tempted to stay in the bag, but was restless so got up.  Around 7 two ladys came through with donuts looking for a hiker named Diamond. They didn’t find her but they did leave some donuts!  

We made it out of camp in record time: 9:40 am!

An hour later we made it to Gooch Gap, Coolhand and others were serving coffee and beer.  I had both.  Yum.

Little while later, ran into more trail magic at woody gap.  Ate a very tasty hot dog and drank a soda, then immediately headed up the big climb of the day – Big Cedar Mountain.

From there on to Lance Creek campsite.  The campsite is along an old road and it is packed.  We were able to find a few spots close together way down the road.  

On top of big cedar mountain with Elliott and Corey.

First bud I’ve seen.

Dad taking a breather at Gooch.

Miles hiked today – 8.4

Miles hiked total- 24.4

Snow update

We successfully foiled Stella’s attempt to ruin our trip down.  Ate dinner in Morgantown, WV with an old war craft friend Hirsh then spent the night outside DC.  

Today drove down to South Carolina to visit with some of Carol’s family.

Tomorrow driving over to Amicalola lodge then will be getting started on Friday.

Doing my best not to second guess all my gear choices and freak out.  Remembering my pressure points.  Saying Woosa.

Roads in NY.

Leala crusted in ice.

Dealing with snow before even getting to the trail

Well the my first hurdle has appeared before even getting to the trail.  Carol and I were planning on driving south starting Tuesday afternoon when she got off work.  Only problem?  Winter storm Stella is planning on dropping 1-2 ft. of snow on basically everywhere in our planned route.

The french toast alert has been upgraded to severe.


We’re currently thinking that if we can get far enough west, we’ll get clear of the worst of it.  To that end we’re going to try to blast out of Boston around 4am and hope to get clear of it.  Best case scenario we get free of it and make it down no problem.  Worst case scenario I fly into Atlanta and either manage to get there on time or pick Dad and Jessica up at Neel’s gap.