May 23rd, Georgia
For the first time in forever I set my alarm. I wanted to make sure I got started around 6am in order to make it to Mountain Crossings at Neel’s Gap before they closed at 5pm.
Today started overcast and stayed mostly cloudy all day. It even rained lightly a couple times which brought some welcome coolness to the afternoon.
I met three bears today: a medium, a small, and an extra small. I saw one early, one at mid day, and the other late afternoon. So it was an eventful wildlife viewing day, although all three ran as soon as we noticed each other.
I made it to Mountain Crossings around 4pm. I stopped in to get a drink and snack, and to fill up my water bottles. The trail actually goes right through Mountain Crossings, which is an old stone Forest Service building converted to an outfitter and hostel.
After my stop I still had Blood Mountain, the highest point on the Georgia AT, to climb. The climb was steep in sections. The top was, off and on, solid granite and reminded me a bit of Maine and some other points far north.
There were views here and there and the rhododendrons, and some azaleas, up top were in full bloom.
I made my way across Blood Mountain then down the other side. In order to camp in the five miles between Neel’s Gap south to Jarrard Gap, you are required to have a bear resistant canister for food storage. So, without this, I continued down the extra miles to Jarrard Gap where there was a good water source and many tent sites. Because of the rules it seemed to be a well-used spot. Tonight I was there alone until another hiker called Shooter arrived around 8pm.
As I relaxed in my hammock it occurred to me that this was my last night on this AT thru hike, which seemed strange. It still hasn’t sunk in that this journey is nearly finished.