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Monday, November 3, 2014

AT - Springer Mt. to Neels Gap


Day One: 6.1                               Outcasts Total Miles: 1704.18
Parking to Springer and back 1.8 miles
Parking to Three Forks 4.3
Day Two: 9.5
Three Forks to Justis Creek 9.5
Day Three: 9.5
Justis Creek to Lance Creek 9.5
Day Four: 4.2
Lance Creek to Woods Hole Shelter 3.7
Woods Hole Shelter 0.5
Day Five: 4.2
Woods Hole Shelter 0.5
Woods Hole to Neels Gap 3.7
Total Miles: 33.5 

We left Murfreesboro as usual after running all night.  We met our shuttle driver Sam Duke 706-994-6633 at the Byron Reece Memorial Trail parking lot next to Neels Gap.  Sam drove us up to Springer Mountain.  As we were riding I told Sam it makes you feel like your in the middle of nowhere.  Sam answered "you are in the middle of nowhere!"  He was worried about the weather we would be hiking in.  As usual the two days before our hike the weather report dropped twenty degrees and added a 50 percent chance of snow.

We got out at the parking area and I stayed with the packs as Marco and Troy headed up to the top of Springer Mountain.  I visited with the other hikers coming through as I have already been to the top of Springer a couple of times so far.

Marco and Troy got back and headed out.  The weather was warm and everything was good and dry. We hiked to Three Rivers for the night.  We got wood gathered and camp set up before dark.  We enjoyed a short night around the fire before we just called it a night. 

Day Two:

We got an early start knowing it was going to be a tough day of hiking.  Before we got out of camp we met "Screamer".  We didn't ask how he got that name,  but he was hiking to Neels Gap as well so we passed each other a few times over the next few days.  Screamer had forgot his lighter so Troy gave him one.  We also gave him an update on the weather as he did not know that it was going to snow.

You are never alone on the AT. We passed numerous South bounders over the next few days as well as day hikers. Justis Creek was the first water to camp next to so that was our goal.  To make it before the weather kicked in.  We got a light rain on and off before we got to camp.  It cleared up long enough for us to get dinner in next to a campfire and that was all.  The snow kicked in and we called it a night.  The wind blew and the snow fell most of the night.  

Day Three:

We woke to an inch of snow on the ground.  We did a cold pack up and headed out.  We didn't see anything of Screamer from his tent.  We planned on getting to Woody Gap for the night.  We saw Screamer at Gooch Mountain Shelter.  He had made it through the night.  

Before we got to Woody Gap, a group of hikers told us that we didn't want to stay there for the wind. Long before we even got there we could hear the wind blowing through the gap.  We made a mad dash through traffic in the high wind and continued on.  We met a South bounder that said this was horrible weather and he was getting off at the gap.  We continued on and didn't find any relief from the wind until we got to Lance Creek.

There was another tent set up in camp when we got there, but didn't hear or see anyone. We had to eat under the tarps again as the light snow was coming down.  No fire tonight.

Day Four:

Another cold morning and no wood for a fire.  We got packed up and headed out.  It wasn't long and Marco remembered that he had left his clothes line.  I stayed with his pack as he ran back to get it. Some time in the night I had seen a light on in the tent.  Before I left a man had gotten out.  Marco said that a woman was with him when he got back and that they were heading back out due to the weather.  Just too darn cold.  Today's plan was to get to Wood's Hole Shelter.  We got there in time for lunch.

When we got to the shelter a couple of ladies stopped by wanting to know where the trail was. They were hiking from a program on their phone.  No water or supplies and lost.  We got the map out and helped them find their way.

We had the shelter to ourselves and a great night around the campfire.  Tomorrow was Blood Mountain.

Day Five:

Through the night the weather got warmer.  We heard owls, cyotes, and a couple of screech owls early in the morning. We got up and headed out for the climb.  It was a great day for being on the mountain.  Warm, clear, and light wind! Life was good! 

On the way down, I took the side trail to get the car while Marco and Troy headed on to Neel's Gap. When I got to the parking lot there was another backpacker there.  He had spent the night in the back of his truck because it was too cold to camp.  He was heading North, but of course didn't have a map or any idea where he was going.  Another lost hiker!

We visited the store at Neel's Gap and then headed to Blairsville and had a celebration lunch at the Hole in the Wall on the square.  Another good hike.

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