View Full Version : AT, GA, Springer to Neel Gap, June 7-9, 2012

2012-06-14, 18:14
Thursday, June 7, 2012

I was ready for an easier, mellower walk after climbing up to the Carolina balds earlier in the week. I got just such a walk when I headed to Springer Mountain. As I arrived at the FS 42 trailhead, my daughter seemed ready to hop into my pack and go right along with me.

However, Dewey Bear was having none of it. He insisted that the pack was his domain and he settled in. I gave my wife and daughter a hug and then headed up the trail to the summit. A couple of locals greeted me along the way.

The gentle climb was a relief after feeling so rough on my previous trip. We soon made it to the Springer summit, where a couple of dayhikers and a couple beginning a long section hike were enjoying the view. Dewey muscled them out of the way for a photo on his “throne”.

He also grabbed a quick shot next to the first blaze.

Then we were off. It was an idyllic walk, gently downhill. I spoke briefly with a group of dayhikers who were looking for Long Creek Falls. I produced my map and showed them where to find it. And then I pushed on. I stopped by Stover Creek Shelter for lunch, then headed on again, not stopping until I encountered the same dayhiker, now returning from the falls. They offered their thanks for directions and asked if I had been hiking “all this time (about 2 hours). Dewey responded yes and then we headed up the short climb to the falls.

We then headed gently up the climb to the ridge along Hawk Mountain. It seemed nearly effortless. Arriving at the blue blaze to Hawk Mountain, we approached to within sight of the shelter, where I hung the hammock for the night.

After gathering water, I enjoyed a dinner of chili mac (under serious protest from Dewey). I could hear the noise from a family staying at the shelter, but I was in another world in my hammock. I drifted off to sleep with Zac Brown’s “Toes” in my head. Life is good today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I got of to a good start, packing quickly and moving by just after 8 AM. I headed down the hill to Hightower Gap and then began the little energizer tread of ups and downs on the way to Horse Gap. Along the way, I passed several south bound hikers. I stopped off at Horse Gap for a snack and made the call to bypass perhaps the most outrageous PUD on the Georgia AT, Sassafras Mountain. A quick, head-down jaunt around Sassafras brought me to Cooper Gap, where I enjoyed lunch.

Somebody had set up a tent there, but apparently they were not there, since I heard nothing the entire time I sat and ate. As I pushed up Justus Mountain, I passed three more south-bounders. I made solid time as I approached Justus Creek.

I grabbed some water, then headed on to Gooch Mountain Shelter. When I arrived there, a fellow had spread his gear around to completely cover every inch of the shelter and most of the table. I had planned to have a snack here, but instead chose to simply sign the register and move on, grabbing a snack a few hundred yards up the trail.

Pushing on, I quickly reached Gooch Gap, where I was to meet my wife. Dewey and I settled in and relaxed until she arrived.

Once she arrived, we all headed to Lake Winfield Scott Campground near Suches, Georgia. My wife had created a nice base camp here for all of us.

My daughter, dirt and all, was loving the freedom of camping.

We headed down to the lake for a swim, followed by a shower. Then we headed out to the 180 Diner, right outside the park, where the outside deck offered comfortable dining.

Heading home, I sorted out my gear for the next day and settled into bed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I had just hiked Gooch Gap to Woody Gap over Spring Break, and I decided to bypass this 4 miles over Friday night dinner. Instead I would start at Woody Gap and slackpack to Neel Gap on Saturday.

So Dewey and I stepped off around 9 AM and headed into the Blood Mountain Wilderness.

As I stepped off, I heard an incredibly loud fellow talking to his hiking partner. He was at least a couple hundred yards behind me, but my artillery-deafened ears could clearly understand every word. As I reached the first small overlook, I realized why. He was shouting back to his partner who was now more than a football field behind him. I gladly yielded the viewpoint to him in hopes of getting far enough ahead to outpace the shouting.

Thankfully, I was successful, soon reaching a very quiet overlook atop Big Cedar Mountain. I used my stickpic to grab a quick shot of myself.

Dewey also enjoyed the peaceful view.

As we left, I encountered a couple of backpackers heading south. It was a strange feeling to suddenly be the dayhiker myself.

I made excellent time, climbing with little or no effort. I grabbed a bit of water at Lance Creek, then headed on to my lunch stop at Jarrard Gap.

Then I started the climb up Blood Mountain. It still offered copious quantities of stone steps.

Still, the path seemed relatively easy with only a tiny daypack. I passed more dayhikers than I could count. But I continued onward and upward, soon arriving at Blood Mountain Shelter.

Dewey and I grabbed a quick shot on the rocks above the shelter.

We moved on the short distance to the summit.

We then headed down. It was rocky and rough, but we still made good time. Just after passing the Freeman Trail, Dewey demanded we stop at Balanced Rock. He insisted it was crooked, so he moved it an inch or so until it was right again.


25 minutes or so later, we carefully crossed the heavy-trafficked US 19 at Neel Gap. There we met my wife and daughter. Dewey took one final photo.

Then we hopped in the vehicle, looking to head back to the campground, a swim, and plans for the rest of the weekend without any more hiking.

2012-06-14, 21:22

SGT Rock
2012-06-14, 21:34
Looks like a good trip

2012-06-14, 21:43
It was just tough enough to let me know I was still hiking, and mellow enough to let me relax and enjoy it. And it still let me spend some quality time with my family.

We had dinner Saturday night at the Smith House in Dahlonega. A bit pricey, but excellent food and all you care to eat, served family style.

Sunday we visited the Bavarian village in Helen. Sleeps With Skunks lived in Germany for three years growing up and she was overjoyed to eat and shop plenty of real German cuisine and goodies.

Good long weekend of walking and vacationing.

2012-06-15, 11:19

2012-06-15, 11:22
My daughter, dirt and all, was loving the freedom of camping.

there's a battle on the horizon between this one and Dewey, just a matter of time

2012-06-15, 11:55
there's a battle on the horizon between this one and Dewey, just a matter of time

There have already been some. She thrashes him around and chunks him. This weekend, she bit the nose off the other Teddy bear, Orville. SWS fixed it, but Dewey was pretty steamed. Right now we only allow supervised visitation between the two.

At times they get along really well though. Dewey even reads her bedtime stories. Then she goes to her crib, and Dewey goes and watches wrestling.

john pickett
2012-06-15, 16:37
Beautiful pictures, great report. I miss Georgia.

2012-06-15, 19:03
making me homesick. one more week.