Starting Location: Gooch Gap Shelter
Destination: Neels Gap
Total Miles: 39.3
Another carbon copy day today of the first few with more blue skies and beating sunshine, although the temps are still around 50 in the mountains and around 30 or so at night. Pushed on ahead a bit more today, opting to get to the Hostel and Mountain Crossings Outfitter Store at Neels Gap (Walasi-Yi). Ran into Chestnut and Claude again on the summit of Blood Mt. at the end of the day, where there were excellent views in every direction. After a quick rest, the three of us and another thru-hiker named Semicolon hiked the last 2 miles down to Neels Gap. At the Outfitter, I re-supplied and checked into the Hostel where I met a dozen or so other thru-hikers, including Gaia and Sasquatch, Grizzly Dave, Denver Dave, JJ and TK, and of course Chestnut and Semicolon.
Deciding it might be nice to try and lose a couple of pounds off my pack, I laid out all of my belongings on the floor in the Outfitter and went through it piece by piece with Skittles to weigh every piece of gear and see what I might be able to eliminate. Among other things, I got rid of my heavier bear-bag rope in favor of some nearly-weightless parachute cord, and sent home my white gas stove and replaced it with a foolproof alcohol stove that weighs 1 oz. That and along with a few odds and ends here and there, I shaved about 6 pounds or so off my pack weight, which was definitely more than I expected. As the summer comes, I hope to ditch a couple more pounds worth of cold-weather gear, and I might consider switching to an ultra-light little pack since my Dana Design pack weighs about 5 pounds on its own. For now, I’m very comfortable though.
Had a great time tonight getting to know all the other hikers, and everyone seemed to get along and share some laughs right from the start. The only question is….which hiker will snore the loudest tonight??