Neels Gap(31.7) to Stealth Camp(41.9)
Lessons learned: Coming out of town after a resupply trip is not fun.
As we left Blairsville this morning my spirits were high. I had crushed the hardest part of the trail in GA the day before, gotten a great nights sleep in a motel, and had a hamburger for dinner. Life was good. The morning started out equally as good. Our shuttle driver picked us up early and took us to McDonalds for breakfast. It was nice to have a fresh cup of coffee and a sausage and egg biscuit. We arrived a Neels Gap earlier than our planned 9 am start time. I had time to talk to my best friend, Alie on the phone. It was only a quick call, but it was nice to hear from home. I had talked to my parents the night before and my brother, Anthony, sends me inspirational quotes every morning. Any contact from friends and family has been great.
Shortly after we started trekking for the day the reality of my new food weight became very apparent. We had a steep climb out of Neels Gap and I was fully loaded down with 9 lbs of fresh food. I think my new favorite day, is the day before I go into town for food.
Today's climbs were very steep over a short distance, followed by some nice easy flat walks along ridgelines, followed by a steep rocky decent.
Around noon we came across a beautiful view and decided to stop for a proper lunch. It was nice to stop and rest. The last few days we have really been pushing hard for miles.
Right after we finished eating we were hit by our first bit of trail magic. An older couple was passing out Easter candy during their day hike. They gifted us with Peeps, which are not my favorite, but I appreciated the gesture.
We met tons of new thru-hikers today. We are starting to fall into a bubble of seeing the same people all day. We spend the day passing each other, only to be passed later in the day. It's kind of neat to see and talk to the same group.
Everyone is starting to pick up trail names now. Kind of fun meeting someone with a real name, only to meet them again 2 hours later and to hear the trail name they were gifted. Photo Man, is now called the Wizard. He carries 2 hiking staffs and has a pretty long grey beard. He also knows the ounces of most hiking gear, so we joked instead of being The Wizard of Oz, he's the wizard of ounces. The Sherpa Twins are sisters from Philly that don't carry poles, but absolutely crush uphill hiking. Excalibur, previously, Cairn, was the only person able to open a hiker box at the shelter to get out a registrer notebook. We tried sticking Greg with Lonestar, since he's from Texas. He wasn't having any part of that.
I super stoked to have picked up my trail name. Apparently when someone asks if you are "trying" to make it to Maine, and you respond "Do or Do not, there is no try" people start calling you, Yoda. I fricking love my trail name. I spent most of the afternoon speaking like Yoda.
Today was also made more difficult by the lack of decent water sources. On top of my 9lbs of food, I also was carrying 8.8 lbs of water at one point.
After being so confident yesterday, today was very humbling. We all ate huge dinners and drank plenty of water, so we don't have to carry it tomorrow. Our group of 4 from yesterday, is now a group of 9. We have picked up Eric, Wizard, Excalibur, and the Sherpa twins. Since we were all too tired to push much further tonight, we are stealth camped a few miles short of a shelter. Greg took the time to build a fire and we sat and chatted well past hiker midnight (8 pm)
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir