Posts Tagged With: Blood Mountain

Vagabond Jack Headed North

View from Sassafras Mt.

After hiking on the Appalachian Trail for two days and covering 8.6 miles of the trail, Vagabond Jack took two zero days (rest days – not hiking at all) in Dahlonega, Georgia, avoiding some wintry weather. On Monday, 2/5/18, Jack got back on the trail where he left off at Hightower Gap. The shuttle driver dropped Vagabond Jack about 9:15 on this cold and windy day. He climbed up and over Sassafras Mountain, a nice introduction to the climbs in northern Georgia. He was not surprised by the challenge as Jack has experienced several of the mountains in the Smokies this past summer. Monday’s hike ended at Gooch Mountain Shelter just before 3:00. He completed his 7.2-mile trek in under six hours

Tuesday (2/6/18) brought a 12.1-mile trail to Vagabond Jack’s agenda. The goal was to walk to Wood’s Hole Shelter, only 4 miles from Neel Gap and civilization. He was hoping to be on the trail by 8:00 but his need for some added sleep delayed his start by 45 minutes. He was 5.2 miles down the trail by noon when arrived at Woody Gap and State Route 60. It was here that he experienced his first Trail Magic (what I would prefer to call Trail Blessings). A young man hopped out of a car and asked Jack if he was a thru-hiker. He handed Jack a banana and some words of encouragement.

Preaching Rock

Jack continued down the path and was rewarded when he reached Preaching Rock with beautiful views of some the valleys and mountains of the AT in Georgia. About 3:00, he arrived at Lance Creek campground with another 4 miles to Woods Hole Shelter. Rain was predicted for early evening but had not started at 3:00. He did not want to set up or tear down his tent in the rain, so he decided to continue to the shelter. He arrived about 5:45 and the rain was still just a threat in the evening sky. He made himself comfortable in the shelter realizing that he was the only one there. He went to sleep knowing that he was only four miles to Neel Gap, but also aware that he would need to summit Blood Mountain on the way.

Vagabond Jack woke up to rain on Wednesday morning. Knowing that he had a short hike into Neel Gap, he decided to wait for a while hoping that the rain would calm down. About 10:30 the strength of the rain began to weaken and by 11:00 Vagabond Jack was on the trail. Blood Mountain is the real deal. It is a challenge to climb, but it presents a more dangerous descent. It was foggy and misty as Vagabond Jack made his way up and over the summit. The large, rain-slickened rocks demanded the use of his hands to maneuver down the steep sheets of rock.

He was tired and thirsty when he walked into Mountain Crossing, the outfitters at Neel Gap. It was about 3:30 so he bought some food, grabbed a coke and caught a ride to Blairsville, Georgia, about 14 miles away. He checked into the Season’s Motel and took a long hot shower. He is taking a zero-day in Blairsville on Thursday and should be back on the trail on Friday.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, Georgia, Gooch Mountain, Sassafras Mountain, Shelter, Thru-Hike, Trail Blessing, Trail Magic | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grateful 2’s Climb Over Blood Mountain

Grateful 2, a thru-hiker from Chattanooga, and his son, Gooseman, Have begun their attempt at hiking 2,186 miles through 14 states on the Appalachian Trail. They began their journey on March 18 and have trekked 15.8 miles. Their second night on the AT was spent at the Gooch Mountain Shelter. This post finds the father/son team on day three of the trek.

March 20 was a beautiful day for a hike on the AT and Graetful 2 and Gooseman covered 8.4 miles. The hike is not an easy one and the challenge is real. Grateful 2 writes in his journal on day three, “Up-and-down the mountains seeing the splendor of God’s creation. It is awe-inspiring to imagine the one who created all that we see and enjoy…. Walking in the outdoors is enjoyable. Walking in the outdoors up and down 1000 foot elevation gains and losses can be hard. Walking in the outdoors up and down 1000 foot elevation gains and losses with a 35 pound pack can be downright difficult sometimes…. My legs ache, my knees hurt, my back kept cramping, my feet burned, but still we kept walking. I was so glad to finally get to the campsite for the evening.”

March 21 Today was a day for big adventure (7.2.miles). An anticipated climb over Blood Mountain with the reward of real food at the end of the descent. The descent down to Neel Gap was a brutal rock scramble. Grateful 2 and Gooseman rented a cabin at Blood Mountain Cabins. A few hours after their arrival a horrific storm enveloped the area – heavy rains, marble sized hail, fierce winds, lightning and thunder.

March 22 Today hike was a tough 6.9 miles for the men from Chattanooga. ”As we started down the trail this morning, Gooseman said to me, ‘My knees are hurting bad.’ Not good. He never complains about his body hurting so i knew it must be bad. I asked him when they started hurting. ‘After we finished the rock scramble down Blood Mountain yesterday.’ We had planned to hike 11 miles today. The first mile took us over an hour. Usually Gooseman is bounding down the trail; his six foot three, two hundred thirty pound frame leaving me in his dust at 2-3 miles an hour. Not today…. I hope he can walk on them tomorrow. He’s really loving the hike so far, and then this. Tomorrow will be a better day, and I’m Grateful 2.”

March 23 Father and son hiked 8.2 miles today in an attempt to get back to civilization. They should be at Unicoi Gap tomorrow. Gooseman’s knees are still not doing well so they are planning to meet Grateful 2’s wife and take a couple of days off for them to recuperate.

March 24  The hike up and over Blue Mountain today was quite difficult. The 6.1 miles trek involved 40 degree temperatures with 30-40 mph winds with rain and fog. Gooseman’s knees were still bothering him significantly, so the men eventually decided to hitch a ride into Hiawassee, Georgia. They ended the day warm and dry.

March 25  “Zero Day- I cried. And I’m not a crier. I got up from the bed and went to the bathroom of this two-bit motel room where my wife, son, and I are staying and I cried some more so they wouldn’t hear me. I cried hard. Gooseman has decided he’s going home. His knees are hurting, he has a sinus infection, and he’s decided to go home.
I’ll miss him so much but that’s not why I’m crying. We’ve had a great week and shared a lot of laughs. It will be hard without him but that’s not why I’m crying.
I’m crying because I hurt for Gooseman. What many of you don’t know about Gooseman is that he has autism. I’ve watched him his whole life not be accepted. I’ve watched him try so hard to be successful in life, and he struggles. He’s doesn’t have a job and he still lives at home. He’s a good man with a great sense of humor, but he struggles. He’s generous and loves giving to others. He always stands up for the underdog.
On the trail, if he can walk, he’s normal. I’ve watched him being accepted this week. I so wanted him to finish- to be accepted as a hiker. Not for me but for him.”

All information and photos come from Grateful 2’s online journal at

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, Georgia, Gooseman, Grateful 2, Hiawassee, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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