Day 5: To Neel Gap on 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Friday 14 April

Distance:11.8km
Elevation levels according to Guthook app: total ascent 537.5m, total descent 588.6m

Mountains climbed: Gaddis Mountain 3540 ft / 1079 m, Blood Mountain ‎4,458 ft / 1,359 m


I am over trail mix! And today breakfast is all I have left. I really needed to take more time in Walmart in Atlanta, however, between the size of Walmart and my time constraints I found it very difficult to find the kind of food I wanted. Therefore, I didn’t have a good range of food nor calorie count for the activity level. 

So I’m going to take a zero tomorrow in Blairsville catching a shuttle from Neels Gap.

I was originally going to only have a nero (half day off) and stay at Mountain Crossings in Neel Gap, however they had had a hostel full of people struck down with the Norovirus. Therefore the hostel had to shut down for a day to be completely cleaned out. Norovirus is an infectious disease — also known as the stomach bug, stomach “flu” and winter vomiting disease and is one of the most contagious viruses out there. Symptoms can come on 12 to 48 hours after exposure. It can make you feel extremely sick with diarrhea and vomiting, many times a day. 

Needless to say once I heard that I thought I would go into Blairsville instead. Also the day off would do me well.


I got up early as usual to set out for Neel Gap and really pushed myself mainly cause I was hungry and all I could think of was Gatorade and pizza. 
The walk up Blood Mountain was extremely hard and the decent rocky, however this is a common theme for most days. But as per usual the view is absolutely worth it. Blood Mountain shelter is one of the coolest shelters on the Appalachian Trail as it is made completely out of stone.


I didn’t stay on top of the mountain for too long as I really want to get down to Neels Gap to arrange a shuttle – and of course have pizza. On the way down you could see that it had become slightly overcast however I didn’t expect hail in the rain that followed. 


My Sea to Summit Poncho got its first testing and passed with flying colours. I was surprised at how much air circulated underneath and I didn’t become all sweaty and hot – and of course I stayed nice and dry.

Once I got to Neel Gap I had my pizza and Gatorade which was delicious, they even have a pizza oven to cook the pizzas in. The pizzas were frozen, they have a fridge full of pizza, Crescents with ham and cheese , hamburgers et cetera. Along with a very well-stocked pantry area, hikers can truly do a full resupply, the only thing I didn’t see were tortillas which are a hiker staple.

Mountain Crossings were extremely helpful and gave me some numbers for shuttle drivers to Blairsville. However I couldn’t get a hold of anybody, so they hunted down a fellow work colleague who gives shuttle rides on his day off. I had to wait till 4 PM which was about three hours but in the end what do I care how long I wait.

All the staff there have completed the Appalachian Trail at least once so they have a fountain of knowledge around gear, getting around and general information. One gentleman said that he suffered a bit from the post trail hiker depression and was really quite lucky to get a job at Mountain crossings as they all were, because it kept them around hikers and the hiker buzz while allowing them to save for the next hike.

The ride into Blairsville to the Comfort Inn was about 20 minutes, cost $35 and quite enjoyable.

2 comments

  1. Hope that’s $35 return! ‘Tired of trail mix’ ehhh? I eat it near daily (cos it’s capital D delicious) and I aren’t even hiking, so them’s fighting words Serena (as I take another mouthful). However, you’ve immediately redeemed yourself by mentioning pizza in the same post. Smart move with the poncho purchase (Serena 1 – AT curveballs 0) and now I’m on the hunt for a ‘crescent’ with ham and cheese…

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  2. Lol…Yes, I too was eating trail mix (my own recipe) daily along with similar ingredients in my homemade muesli right up until I left…so not sure what is going on there – it was too be a staple. Have found a great replacement though which I shall share in a future post 😊

    Like

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