Wednesday, March 23, 2016 8:54 pm
Location: Neel Gap / Mountain Crossings (31.7 miles)

Thanks to the terrific lunch I had at Woody Gap, I reached Lance Creek early and with bountiful energy, so I decided to push on to Neel Gap. (While there are two shelters between Lance Creek and Neel Gap, the five miles before Neel Gap requires a bear canister, which I don't have, so stopping before Neel Gap was not an option.)

I passed a female hiker standing against a tree, with three other packs on the ground.

Me: "That's a lot of packs for one person."

Them: "I'm pretty strong."

I also heard a joke today at lunch: "There is an M&M on the trail. The day-hiker steps on it. The section-hiker steps over it. The thru-hiker picks it up and eats it."

Most of the day was not terribly difficult, except for the steep climb up Blood Mountain, and the challenging rocky descent down to Neel Gap.

I hoped to get a nice hot shower, but the hot water was out; the water was ice-cold. And the bathroom had no soap. But I did get some warm dinner and root beer, so, here's that, at least.

I tried to stay at the hostel here, run by Mountain Crossings, but it was full, so tenting with a group of University of Miami (Ohio) students. While typing this up, Roasted Weiner wandered up by our campfire, climbed up into someone's lap, and passed out. (Quite the hike for a dachshund!) Apparently, she slipped out of Kismet's hammock and ran over to the nearest fire.

View from Preaching Rock
View from Preaching Rock