Woody Gap to Neels Gap
After coming off the trail to avoid potentially dangerous thunderstorms and flash flooding the day before, our morning greeted us with brisk temperatures and patches of blue sky. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and good company with fellow hikers at the Hiker Hostel before departing for Woody Gap. We knew there was a chance of hiking in the rain, so we double-timed it as much as my short legs would allow.
The temperatures were actually comfortable and the day was pretty uneventful for the first half except for the on and off rain, then we hit the Freeman Trail. Due to the ice last year, 3-Mile and Klincher took this trail as an alternate to climbing Blood Mountain and because of the rain and primarily because I’ve been up and over Blood Mountain before, I agreed to check out The Freeman Trail. At the time, I thought it was an easy alternative to climbing Blood, then I stepped on the trail and holy CRAP!!!! Although I’m certain that isn’t what I said at the time.
The rain was changing to sleet and the boulders were glistening from the moisture. We encountered two different waterfalls, which required some careful navigation on our part. The beauty of the trail was exquisite with the mist shrouding the trees and the waterfalls. At one point, we had to cross approximately 500 feet of rock garden about 100 feet wide, with no trail markings. While a challenging trek, it was exhilarating and I’m so glad we took this section as part of our journey and the only disappointing thing is with the rain, we didn’t capture the pictures we wanted.
Later, my friend Liz, found a few descriptions regarding the Freeman Trail. “The Freeman trail hikes through alternating stretches of boulder fields and level forest floor in a steady elevation descent. The Freeman Trail, which is extremely remote is NOT advised to hike alone unless you’re an experienced hiker/mountaineer.”
By the time we made it to Blood Mountain Cabins, the temperatures were dropping. We were exhausted, cold and ready for a hot shower, fire and our frozen pizzas were absolutely delicious. Our friends Dr. Scrambles and Trooper made it in a couple hours after us after tackling the same trail. I was certain Trooper had a few choice words for Fred, which she did, but she also enjoyed the trail as much as I did. A great way to end an amazing day on the A.T.
Until next time, remember what you do today is important, because you are giving up a day of your life for it.