The Blood was a Mountain, the tears belong to 20% of thru-hikers that quit at Neels Gap and the sweat was all mine.
Today started off pretty rough. Severe weather moved in overnight and I did not sleep well. I think I'm going to have to buy an underquilt for my hammock. The sleeping pad is not keeping me warm. When I got up this morning it was probably 20 degrees with the wind chill. I was about 45 minutes behind my new trail companions and knew I had to make up time. To help me warm up and catch up, I decided to run a few miles. I like trail running, but probably not one of my better ideas with 26 lbs on my back. I managed to crush 6.2 miles in 2 hrs and 15 min. I caught up to my new trail friends Kellen, Chuck, and Greg just in time for Blood Mountain.
This is the highest point of the AT in GA. Due to the steepness it causes 20% of thru-hikers to quit at Neels Gap. We gained 1,000 feet of elevation in 1 mile. That might not sound like much, but try it with 30 lbs on your back.
We summited in 30 minutes and I'm pretty pleased with myself about that.
After the summit we had a difficult boulder ridden decent. It took us twice as long to descend, but our spirits were high. I had a resupply box waiting at Neels Gap, so that was great motivation. It's a pretty cool place that has a Mountain Outfitter right on the trail. It was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservacy Corps. The trail goes through the building and is the only covered portion of the entire AT
All in all, my spirits are soaring as I exceed my expectations for Northern GA. I look forward to what tomorrow will bring. I write this from a warm motel room after a hot shower and wearing clean clothes after getting laundry done. We found time for a few beers and a hamburger dinner. We hit the trail again bright and early tomorrow morning.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Tolkien, Lord of the Rings