Appalachian Trail Georgia Section Hike: Day 5

Thursday, June 12, 2014
11.4 miles to Neel Gap

It rained off and on all night. I stayed dry and warm but I did not sleep so well on the yoga mat in the shelter. I listened to music until well after midnight. I took out my earbuds and dozed off listening to the sound of the rain fall on the shelter roof. I tossed and turned until about 5:30 AM. I am ready to sleep in my hammock again!

I sat up at 5:45 and finished up my blog entry from yesterday. I thought about the rest of my trip, knowing that day five is the halfway point. I am still trying to live in the present moment. This has been such a great adventure, even with the rough sleep last night.

By 6:20 our misty camp was waking up to the sound of birds, dripping ran, and hikers ready for breakfast. We ate and packed up and hit the trail by 8 AM. Our first climb was 600 feet up Poor Mountain. A good way to start the day. We made it to Hogpen Gap by 10 AM. Four miles in two hours. We crossed the road to get back on the trail and we saw a posting from the Union County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing person who was suicidal. Jeff looked at the picture and it was Paul, the strange guy we stayed with at Plumborchard Gap on Day 1. John called the sheriff’s department and reported our encounter with Paul. Looking back I am glad we showed him kindness. I even included Paul in our morning prayer when we were leaving Plumborchard on Sunday. When I said “Amen” and opened my eyes, I watched as he crossed himself and said, “Thanks for the prayer.” Who knows, maybe that prayer saved his life.

We made a quick ascent up Wildcat Mountain and took pictures of the view. We had a tough 700 font climb up to Cowrock Mountain. We ate lunch on the open rock face on the summit and had the opportunity to dry out our shoes, clothes, and some of our gear. It felt good to get our sweat-soaked shirts and water logged shoes dry. It was short lived. 30 minutes down Cowrock it started raining. It rained for the next hour and a half. The trail became a river in spots. We tried to walk along the edge of the trail but we gave in and walked through the muddy, sloppy trail.

It finally let up as we hiked the numerous switchbacks up Levelland Mountain. I walked passed the view on the way to the summit. I saw a nice view but didn’t take pictures. I assumed there would be a view at the top, but I was wrong. We made it to the top of Levelland and the trees blocked the view. We were drenched and getting cold as the wind whipped through the trees. We made a quick descent down to Neel Gap. The sun came out and we warmed up.

We made our way to the historic Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap. We walked through the breezeway and I signed the register. We walked on to the Blood Mountain Cabins which were farther away than we expected. We checked into the Mountain Lion Cabin, got our camp shoes on and returned to Mountain Crossings. We bought T-shirts, snacks and some gear, and picked up our mail drop boxes. We talked to the owners about Paul. They said Paul’s pack was found a half mile from Neel Gap with $3,000 in cash and expensive gear. He was presumed dead. They searched in the woods around Neel Gap searching for him…such a tragic story. They were happy to hear he was alive.

We returned to the cabin with our boxes with resupply food in it. My mom sent me a box with cards, snack cakes, and candles for my birthday Very kind. I went through my food and pulled out all the food I didn’t need. I sent myself some extra food but I am going to leave it in the hiker box at Mountain Crossings. We got a pizza and spaghetti from the general store and cooked it at the cabin. We took showers and are planning to watch Game 4 of the NBA finals before going to bed.