Springer Mountain to Neel’s Gap


March 7 – Twas a great start to my hike. Waking up I was so nervous, literally to the point of feeling of feeling nauseous. My parents dropped me off at springer at around 9 and I gotta say I’m so thankful to have parents who support me as much as mine do. This trip would not be possible without them. Knowing they back me 100% of the way made our goodbye that much easier, and then I was off. 

About 5 minutes into my hike my nervousness quickly turned into sheer excitement for what was yet to come. The mountains of Georgia are absolutely gorgeous and I’ve only hiked in them for about 9 miles so far. I was one of the first on top of springer that morning. When I got to the top the first person I encountered was a guy who was doing some challenge to do a radio broadcast from three of Georgia’s peaks. Shortly after, two groups of thru hikers arrived at the summit, 2 girls hiking together and another guy going by the trail name “Avalon”. For those of you at home everybody is given a nickname on the trail known as your “trail name”. Apparently the girls already quit.
After springer I headed onward through forests of pine and rhododendron. Temperatures were great, and honestly at points it was hot. I made a short side trip to long creek falls which was well worth the extra .3 miles. 
The trail after the falls was literally one big mud hole. After slogging through it for about 3 miles I made it to hawk mountain shelter. There was a group of section hikers already there who were doing the Georgia. After a while, a good few thru’s showed up, eventually totaling up to around 30 people. We had a good fire going tonight, and the atmosphere out here is so laid back and relaxing. 
The nerves are still hitting me a little, but today really did go off without a hitch. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner tomorrow.
March 8 – after my second day on the trail all fear in me has been extinguished. The only thing I feel now is excitement for what the next half of my year has in store.
The day started off with a long climb out of Hightower gap. The trail did an excellent job of showcasing its infamous PUD’s, otherwise known as POINTLESS ups and downs. Luckily for me the trees are all still bare out here so as I hiked I usually always had a view showing the mountains I had just walked across. 
After a while I caught up to button and crazy ant and we began our descent into horse gap and then onward to the summit of sassafras mountain. Another hell of a climb offering no real view at the top. As we came down off of sassafras, it was a welcome sight to see three coolers at the bottom. This is known as trail magic, random acts of kindness by complete strangers on the trail. I soon had in my possession a peanut butter sandwich and chocolate bars. We hung out there for a while and eventually the rest of the group we stayed with at hawk mountain last night showed up. We probably spent another good hour just hanging out enjoying the food and beautiful weather. 
Once we headed on we were faced immediately with another difficult hike up justus mountain. And at the top we were faced with yet another view less mountain. Like I said, not so much an issue for us due to bare trees but it would suck to be coming through during spring or summer and not be rewarded at the top. 
After the summit of justus our day was smooth sailing from then on out. We traveled downwards through a tunnel of rhododendron to justus creek, a wonderful place to wash off our feet and check what new blisters were forming down there. 
After about two miles we made it to gooch gap. I’m here now camping with peace dog, crazy eyes, and another thru who’s name is escaping me right now. 
Being out here is truly living in the moment, it is complete and absolute freedom. Living life on a day by day basis is the only way to make it out here, you’ve just got to take the obstacles as the come. Onward I go.
March 9 – waking up on my third morning I was greeted with the sound of rain falling on my tent. I packed up as best as I could under the cover of my rain fly and luckily the weather improved for me to finish packing up outside and get a move on. Me and crazy eyes headed on to woody gap with peace dog, babbles, and Dan right behind us. The rain continued to hold off and as we descended into woody gap we were greeted by two things: one being our first paved road in three days and more importantly two being another cooler along with a grill! I swear those were the best hot dogs I’ve ever had, especially after talking about how good a burger sounded for the past few hours. 
After generously helping ourselves to the magic, we started our climb out of woody up big cedar mountain. It was pretty gradual and easy enough, but at the top we witnessed what is in my opinion the best view the trail has offered so far. I’ve said this a few times and I’m sure this won’t be the last, but the mountains of Georgia are truly spectacular. 
The rest of our day involved a long descent down to lance creek at around mile 24. The majority of our bubble is camped out here right now, and the rain has picked back up as well. It looks like we’re in for a wet few days. Tomorrow will be a long one up and over blood mountain, but we will finally make it to Neels Gap, the first real sign of civilization on the trail. 
Oh and I forgot to mention last night I was given a trail name. Everyone is calling me young blood because I’m pretty much one of the youngest out here right now. Young blood it is I suppose. 
March 10 – We were greeted this morning with more rain, only this time it wasn’t so kind as to stop for us to pack up and get our miles in. It was a wet hike up blood mountain, the highest point on the trail in Georgia. From where we had set up camp it was about 6 miles of straight uphill through thick fog and mud. Even bad weather is beautiful out here, the mountain fog makes everything so mysterious and eerie. 
The climb up blood wasn’t nearly as bad as the descent down into Neels gap. Deep mud and slippery rocks paved the trail for the two miles down   leading to the first real sign of civilization on the trail, mountain crossings at mile 31.7. It’s basically a hiker paradise here, they’ve got a full scale outfitter, a hostel, and as much food as you could possibly want. I myself went for a pizza and will probably eat another one before things are all said and done tonight
We’re staying in the hostel tonight to get out of the rain and try to dry our gear off as best we can. These first four days on the trail have been absolutely amazing. I am having so much fun out here. For the first time in so long I feel completely at peace with myself and my surroundings, the troubles of everyday life are so trivial when you’ve got a whole mountain range to walk across. 
I hope everyone is doing well at home and I hope all of you are enjoying life as much as I am. Take care guys!  

10 thoughts on “Springer Mountain to Neel’s Gap

  1. Mom

    So proud honey. The blog is great, it is so interesting and well written. Love reading it! So happy this has been great thus far. We are all here cheering you on. Love you more!!


  2. Larry

    Pj, Sounds and reads absolutely wonderful.Im gonna be with you for the whole trip,slow and behind but reading whatever you write.I wish that I had done what you are doing.I admire you to the point of speechlessness.Roll on Youngblood ,be safe,have fun,I’m looking forward to your journey! Larry(your pops buddy


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