Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Georgia AT- Springer Mt to Neals Gap
Day One: 4.9
Parking to Shelter and back 1.7 miles
Parking to Three Forks 3.2
Day Two: 11.3
Three Forks to Gooch Mt. Shelter 10.8
Hawk Mt. Shelter 0.4
Gooch Mt. Shelter 0.1
Day Three: 12.75
Gooch Mt. Shelter 0.1
Gooch Mt. Shelter to Slaughter Creek Camp 12.4
Slaughter Creek to water 0.25
Day Four: 3.55
Slaughter Creek to AT 0.25
Slaughter Creek to Neels Gap 3.3
Total Miles: 32.5
Lora and I headed out to Springer Mountain for a few days. We were going to celebrate our anniversary with an Appalachian Trail hike to Neels Gap. We got to Springer Mountain at 2pm. We hiked to the Springer Mountain shelter from the parking lot because we didn't want to miss any miles from our last hike doing the approach trail.
We got to visit with some friendly folks at the parking lot before we headed back out to the Three Forks campsite. The trail was easy and the Benton MacKaye trail crosses over numerous times. We stopped and checked out the Stover Creek Shelter.
The Three Forks campsite is a very open campsite along the Noontootla Creek. Across the creek is USFS Road #58. We set up camp and collected fire wood. There were two men that set up camp in this area as well. We had a quiet night beside the campfire. The stars were out and we got to hear the owl.
The next morning we got up and headed out. We had ten miles to put in and wanted to enjoy it. Just up from camp we came across the first two water falls along the trail. Shortly afterwards we came to the blue blazed side trail to Long Creek Falls which is pretty. There was a man that had camped there overnight. We headed back to the AT and soon passed a few other folks heading the other way. The Benton MacKaye headed out for the last time off to our left.
We stopped at the Hawk Mt. Shelter for a snack and just to see it. There are not a lot of views from the AT until you get around Woody Gap. Just a lot of up and downs. Everybody hears about Springer Mt. and Blood Mt. I have never heard of Sassafrass Mt., but I know about it now! It is the hardest part of the 32.5 miles that we did. Both up and down! Talk about feeling out of shape. We did it, but it hurt. If you ever talk to anyone that has hiked this part, just ask them. They will remember. While we were taking a break on the way up Sassafrass, a father and son passed us. Craig and Noah. We met them again at Gooch Mt. Shelter. When we got to the top of the mountain, I finally gave in and wrapped the sore ankle that started bothering me the day before we left. We ate lunch here too.
We climbed two more mountains and then stopped at Justis Creek to fill up water bladders. We were tired and ready to camp, but decided that we would go on. While we were filling another guy stopped and said that this was the last water source for a while. On day one we passed some hikers that told us that water was low everywhere and we needed to fill up every chance we got. The next creek, Blackwell Creek had water as did the spring at Gooch Mt. shelter.
We set up camp, got water, and ate. After dinner we went up to the shelter and visited with Craig and Noah along with another hiker from North Carolina, Don. Craig and Noah were from Florida. We got to hear some owls that night as well.
The next morning we slept in a little then headed out. We started out with a climb like we like to do. Then another and another. The wind was blowing in Gale force today. Just before we got to Woody Gap we came across the first rock overlook of the trail. A man was camping just the other side of the trail from it. It was windy, but gave us a beautiful sight.
Woody Gap reminded me of Newfound Gap as far as the parking lots, paved road, and a million cars. This is where Hwy 60 crosses. After you get across the road and other parking lot you start a good climb up Big Cedar Mt. There is a large rock overlook just up from Woody Gap and then another overlook off the right side of the trail on a short blue blazed trail.
After coming down Big Cedar, we ate lunch in Dan Gap. A trail runner passed us while we ate. By the time we got to Jarrard Gap where there is a campsite, we had decided to stay at Woods Hole Shelter instead of going to Slaughter Creek campsite. We were running out of energy.
Well, when we got to Woods Hole shelter, there were two guys camping there. They said that they walked towards the shelter and found the creek dry which was supposed to be the water source, and never came across the shelter. They also told us that Slaughter Creek was dry as a well. Not good because we needed water. We decided to move on and camp at Slaughter Creek. We passed the trail runner again and she said there was water up ahead. So when we got to Slaughter Creek it was dry. We checked out the camping area, then headed down Slaughter Creek trail looking for water. About a quarter mile down, we came across a campsite next to the creek. There was a small amount of water there so we set up camp and had us a campfire.
Mr. Owl woke us up the next morning. My sore ankle was swollen this morning too. Not good! We packed up and headed back to the AT, then began our hike up Blood Mountain. The trail is good to us on the way up. A steady but easy climb. We came across the privy first then the rock shelter on top. The shelter is surrounded by boulders, which protect it from the wind. Good idea I must say. There were a few people there and more coming up from the Neel Gap side all the time we were up there.
Beautiful sights to see from the mountain top. After you pass the Shelter and head across the top of Blood Mountain there are rocky overlooks everywhere. We talked to a group of boys that said there was rain coming in this afternoon so we head down the mountain to Neels Gap.
The AT goes between the Store and Hostel at Neels Gap. We stopped and looked through the store. We called our shuttle and ate lunch while we waited. They have a bunch of hiking shoes that through hikers send back after they complete the trail. They hang them in the trees outside and all across the ceiling in the store.
Our shuttle ride picked us up and took us back to Springer where we picked up our truck and headed home. We used Sam Duke 706-994-6633