Greetings, and thanks for checking in on us. We’re four days into hiking and have covered 30 miles so far. We’re inside tonight at Mountain Crossings hostel at Neel Gap. We’ve done about 8 miles each day so far. Our first night was at Hawk Mtn. Shelter— Gavin slept in the shelter, but I pitched my tent. Both of us slept comfortably. We were greeted at Hawk Mtn. by Santa from Atlanta, whom I have seen in several videos. It was cool to meet a trail “legend,” or at least someone with quite a bit of trail experience. Our second day was to Gooch Mountain. I was planning to tent again, but there weren’t enough flat space to set up so I wound up inside. Santa was there again and has really taken Gavin under his wing. Day 3 was another 8ish miles to Lance Ck. Reforestation area. Ho, ho, ho! Santa was there again. We got a bit of rain last night, but thankfully it finished doing what it was doing before we got going. Today was our hardest day. We climbed Blood Mountain, which was the toughest climb yet, but the views from the top were phenomenal. We met a guy who was trail running who told us a little about the area. On a better weather day, we would have been able to see the Atlanta skyline from the peak. The trip down to where we are now was incredible. To this point, all of our downhills have been gradual and earthen. Today, it was nothing but rocks on top of rocks, but we made it here.
Gavin has been dealing with foot pain for the past day or so, but last night we were fortunate to meet a young woman from Finland who actually had a spare pair of insoles. They seemed to make all the difference for Gavin today. I dealt with a bit of knee pain on the last of the uphill and definitely on the downhill, but it seems to have abated.
To go back to the beginning, we started “hiking” on Saturday. We did the steps up to the top of Amicalola falls. 605 steps! Thankfully, there were landings along the way to stop and put my lungs back where they belonged. Also thankfully, we were with family, and the view was phenomenal.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Alaska and his hiking buddy. We met them Sunday at the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the trail. Alaska was toting a single-shot pellet rifle for hunting birds and other small game. His buddy was carrying a 14” skillet dangling from paracord on the outside of his pack. They were definitely packing heavy. They were with us the first couple of days, but “Skillit” hitched off the trail yesterday from Woody Gap with the intention of doing work-for-stay at a hostel until he could lighten his load. I don’t know of Alaska’s fate. Thankfully, Gavin and I are much more prepared, but we still have heavier packs than we need.
Edit, 3/4/19: though “Frying Pan” is off trail, Alaska has dropped the pellet gun and an extra pack and is still moving up the trail. We have crossed paths several times and stayed with him last night at Deep Gap Shelter. He is also here with us at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee tonight and probably tomorrow. My turn to eat crow and to learn not to trust first impressions.
As I mentioned above, we arrived at Mountain Crossings, which is a hostel and outfitter right on the trail. They will do a free pack shakedown to give you suggestions of things that you should send home to save weight, and they’ll also suggest items that you may need that you don’t already have (and I’ve heard they’re more than willing to sell it to you.) We’ll have them look through our packs tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll suggest that I ditch my iPad and keyboard (about two pounds worth, together), but I’m still holding out the hope that they’ll be worth it when I feel like writing/editing at the end of the day. Right now, I have been in bed between 7:00-8:00 each night and it is still hard to get up and get going. I’ll be interested to see if they can save us any other weight. I expect our cook kits are too heavy to make it all the way to Maine.
I notice that I am supremely rambling here, but in my defense, I am exhausted. I am going to go ahead and end here. I am hopeful that as we get into better shape, and on days when we are hiking less distance (or at least finish earlier in the day), I will be able to blog more often, and more thoughtfully. I am also hoping that in the next day or so I can put up some videos on YouTube. What I hope I can do is do one video each day and schedule them to come out one day after the others. So far, we have footage for the first four days, but it’ll take me a little while to put them all together.
Again, thanks for following our journey. We’re having a great time, sore muscles not withstanding. We’re supposed to get rain tomorrow, so pray for us. And always remember to keep taking the “Next Step.”
**Note from Beth: Rob wrote this last night with the intention of my editing and posting this morning, but due to a slight miscommunication, I am just now posting it. They have actually finished hiking for the day (day 5) and are back in town. They “slack-packed” today, which I’m sure he’ll tell you all about in his next update. Anyway, sorry for the delay, and thanks for reading!