I have heard many people talk about trail magic, but today I experienced it up close and personal. One of the people in our “bubble” left their A.T. Guide and personal journal book on the picnic table at the Gooch Mountain Shelter. “Mother Nature” gave it to a member of the Georgia A.T. Club to track down the owner. This club member had hiked about a mile south from Woody Gap when I ran into him. The journal was in French, so he asked me if I knew who the owner might be. I had met a hiker there from Ottawa, Canada that spoke French and gave him a description of the guy, but explained that he had been one of the first to leave and was probably well past Woody Gap. This complete stranger, expecting nothing in return, said that he would drive it the 30 miles to Neel Gap, and asked that if I saw the gent, to let him know it would be there waiting for him. An amazingly kind act from a Trail Angel.
When I got to Woody Gap, I took a break, ate some snacks, and off-loaded my trash into the trash cans (I was so happy to get rid of the extra 4 ounces). As I was crossing the road to start the climb on the other side, I saw a guy waving at me to come over to where he and some other hikers were standing. It turned out that he was my second Trail Angel of the day! He offered me candy, chips, and ice cold soda. His name was “Quicksand” and he thru-hiked the trail last year, and was just out trying to pay forward some of the trail magic he had received. I declined the snacks, explaining that I was still trying to eat my way through the pack weight in my food bag (which he totally got), but I gladly accepted a cold soda. There is no doubt that his gift of a Mountain Dew helped me to get up that climb.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last night the temperature dropped down into the upper 30’s again, but it was so much easier getting dressed in dry clothes. After a quick hot breakfast, I packed up, thanked our Trail Ambassadors for their hospitality, and hit the trail. Today’s route looked pretty easy in the trail guides, but it was anything but easy. It was, however, a beautiful day. And on top of that, our climbs were rewarded with our first views of the hike. You couldn’t pay to have a nicer place to take a break!
I finally arrived at the Lance Creek camping area around 1:30 pm, staked my claim to one of the two remaining tent pads (six total), and started in on the usual chores of setting up camp. About two hours later, the rest of our bubble arrived and we started squeezing in tents on every available flat spot. There is only one bear cable, but luckily everyone is getting low on provisions as we approach our next resupply point at Neel Gap!
Everyone is turning in early to get rested for our first major Mountain climb of the trip over (cue the dramatic movie music – Dum Dum Dum Dummmmmm) Blood Mountain!