Day 3: To Gooch Mountain Shelter GA on 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Wednesday 12 April

Total Distance: 14.3km

Mountains: Sassafras Mountain 3342 ft / 1019 m, Justus Mountain 3222 ft / 982 m

To Gooch Gap in 8 Minutes

When I reached Gooch Mountain Shelter today Andy left the message in the hiker book that owner and filtration system had been reunited yesterday – fantastic. Water filtration is a necessity out here and to potentially lose it on the first day would be heart wrenching…anyway all turned out well.

Today just seemed like we were climbing mountain after mountain – never ending. There was quite a gap between water sources so I had to pace my water. The views though from these mountains are magnificent and no matter how often I see the same view as I’m climbing up, it never gets old.

We climbed: Sassafras Mountain 3342 ft / 1019 m‎ and the smaller but no less leg challenging Justus  Mountain at 3222 ft / 982 m along with the general up and down nature of the AT. As I came into Cooper Gap there was a guy, who didn’t want his photo taken, with some trail magic – my first experience of it and it was most welcome. No matter how small or large trail magic is trail  magic.

I have been bunny hopping with a few hikers (sorry I can’t remember everyone’s names): an English couple, friends Tex and Jacob, two young ladies and their dog, a retired gentleman who is doing about a month, a funny guy who was only doing a week and left us today at Woody Gap, a couple of young guys and another gentlemen.

However a couple of these hikers have decided to take a day at Suches or their time is up and some will stop in a day at Hiawassee, so I hope to catch up with them again.

All this walking and climbing means I have the brain space to start to ponder some of the more important issues like my mojo.

Its great to have the world stop for six months and let me gather my thoughts. I firmly believe the answers for me, lie within the women elders in my whanau (family).

My Grandma Hamlet who had such focus and could keep her eye on the prize, no matter what she had to do or put up with she kept her focus the prize the end goal.

My Nanny Kereopa who had an iron will and could take control of her surroundings and had the respect and love of those around her.

My Mother who has such a generous, loving and caring nature – instinctively a nurturing soul which can stand strong against any tide.

My Aunty Tuhipo who told it like it was, was never shy to do so and stood firm in the belief that to otherwise was incomprehensible.

And I have 6 glorious months to channel these Wahine Toa, focus on their strengths and fill my wairua with them.

Anyway back to hiking…I had planned to stay at Blackwell creek campsite, however when I got there the area was cordoned off with a no camping sign erected. I contemplated flouting the law but thought better of it, besides I had plenty of time for the hike to Gooch Gap Shelter. Luckily as well as not more than 15 minutes later a ridge runner went past.

Gooch Gap Shelter was already quite busy with tenters but managed to find a space – albeit one on which I was sliding down to the end of the tent all night. 😊


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