Jun 03 2008

Georgia AT Trail Day 3 (Gooch Gap – Slaughter Creek)

Tuesday 6/3/08
Trip: 12.4 miles
Elevation: 3906ft (max) 2850ft (min) 2356ft (total accent)
Time: 6h 16m (moving) 4h 35m (stopped)
Moving Avg: 2.1 mph
Temperature: 80 F
Wind: Light breeze
Conditions: Clear, no precipitation but very humid
Pack Weight: ~35lbs (2L water, 5 days food)


The run out of Gooch Gap towards Woody Gap was nice. Rolling trail with some neat rock formations on the left side and vertical drops off the right. Woody Gap has bathroom facilities and a trash drop and looks to be a popular stopping point for cyclists and day hikers coming up from Suches.

The Big Cedar Mountain ascent was almost as bad as Sassafras Mt. from Monday. Tight, almost vertical stepping switch backs with little wind or relief from the heat and humidity. We spent a bit in the morning enjoying the cool wind and scenic views from the top. Coming up Big Cedar southbound is definitely the easier route over our northbound ascent. Water sources were starting to stretch out the further we headed out of the 3 Forks saddle area. We made sure to top off our hydration bladders at each decent water source.

The last half of the day was spent making the long climb up towards Blood Mountain. We wanted to get as much of the ascent out of the way as possible so we could get to Neel’s Gap as early as possible Wednesday morning. I think we were all looking forward to a hot-dog and coke from the outfitter’s store so the motivation to knock out as much mileage as we could was definitely there.

We met some pretty cool people at the Slaughter Creek camp site (and of course – the troop of girls finally arrived late in the evening – they were pushing on to Blood Mountain shelter). One local hiker who was training for a Colorado Trail hike, showed us his “secret” – a small pipe driven into the Slaughter Creek spring head that let us drink fresh spring water right from the “source” – no filtering needed!

I thought for sure we were going to get some rain but it never materialized. Plenty of late night wind gusts though – helped keep the flies and gnats down to a bearable level.

6/3/08 Journal entry:
Another ass-kicking day for this old man. I’m continually impressed with Mark & Scott’s athleticism and my resolve to take another step – both knees have tendinitis (or whatever) making each downhill step painful.

Good news is my conditioning has improved a bit – each day brings a quicker recovery and less rest after each major climb. Drinking enough water is the issue now – even 100oz per 4 hours isn’t really enough -> I sweat constantly for 9-10 hours a day now.

Tonight we’re camping on a nice rise at Slaughter Creek -> a local showed us his “secret” pipe plumbed right into the base of the spring – water is as fresh as bottled water off the shelf and doesn’t need filtering.

It sounds and feels like rain but we haven’t seen any positive signs yet – maybe tonight in the AM.

Tomorrow we start the real punishment – a 40 min ascent to the top of Blood Mnt. and 1.5 hours of pain-shattering descent into Neel’s Gap.

I might have to come off the trail if the advil doesn’t keep my knees from exploding. I really, really, really don’t want to tap out at this point but the last half of this trip is not going to be easy on my knees.

Good views from Gooch Gap to Woody Gap. Trail was pretty mellow with some awesome scenic views and neat camp sites. The climb from Woody up to Slaughter was rough though. Military academy is off but we’re still playing leap frog with the girls and the college couple.

Tons of gnats and flies here at Slaughter Creek – Mark is a tick magnet btw, so far I haven’t had any on me. Scott’s cooking is kick-ass and so far all my gear is working out great – still need some flip-flops from Neel’s Gap if I stay on the trail.

Good news is my pack gets lighter every time I eat! Bad news is, tomorrow is going to be a pain-train.

Elevation Profile
Gooch Gap – Slaughter Creek

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