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AT 2016: Shakedown Day 4, Gooch Mountain to Woods Hole

Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

Hike with Gravity

For as many nights as I have slept outside and for as much as I enjoy being outside, it would seem natural that I would sleep well outside.

Unfortunately, that's often not been the case for me.

And for this night, when I knew I would be getting up at 3 a.m., it was definitely not the case.

Date
Weather Low 60s early in the morning to near 90 by mid-day
Trail Conditions Still dusty and dry
Today's Miles 12.3 miles
Trip Miles 36.5 miles

A bright, full moon woke me up about every 40 minutes. Finally, though, after much restlessness I was as able to get some sound sleep.

For an hour.

True to his word, Andy woke me up at 3 a.m. for the night hike the boys wanted to do. We were packed up and on the trail by 4 a.m.

The trail wasn't difficult and the air was comfortably cool. We cruised along until we came to Gooch Gap.

It was then that we noticed one of the boys was slumped down over his trekking pole. This had been his regular hiking pattern for the trip. For the entire trip he has lagged behind the others, stopping frequently and usually complaining about one ailment or another.

This time, though, his ailment was a little different. And he was whimpering.

I asked what was wrong, but he would only say his stomach hurt.

When a boy complains about his stomach hurting we are normally concerned and try to find out the cause. Andy and Dave assured me to not worry about this ailment from this boy. They had seen it from him before.

It seems that last year during summer camp the boy came down with one ailment after another. After a couple days of this the leaders decided they needed to take him to a nearby hospital to be checked out.

The doctor could not find anything wrong with the boy. By the time they had returned to camp, several of the other younger scouts had come down with a variety of other phantom maladies.

The only symptom that could be accurately diagnosed was homesickness.

It wasn't until Dave and Andy mentioned this that I realized he never exhibited any of these symptoms while in camp. They only happened on the trail.

Armed with this knowledge we made sure the "sick" boy had gotten enough to eat and water to drink, and then told him he had no choice but to hike. We pushed on to Woody Gap, with pauses several times along the way to again encourage him to hike on.

Despite the pre-sunrise darkness we had no trouble walking on the trail. Occasionally from the distance from our elevation we could view lights of the town of Dahlonega.

We arrived at Woody Gap at 8:30, where we stopped to cook breakfast and collect water for the next leg.

Though we didn't realize it at the time, this was also the location of a miracle.

Our sick boy made a miraculous recovery from his many ailments. From this point on he walked with no unnecessary stops. He interacted with everyone in a cheerful manner, the same as how we normally saw him off the trail.

There were a few more views to be had on the latter part of our day's hike, and these were better than before.

Mountain views are generally better when it's not 4 a.m.

Our original plan called for us to stop for the night at Jarrard Gap, but two hikers we met coming from the opposite direction said that the water there was not sufficient to collect. That meant we needed to push on another 1.2 miles to Woods Hole Shelter.

Jarrard Gap is a popular camp spot during thru-hiker season because the Forestry Service requires campers to have a bear canister past that point for the next five miles. Fortunately, that requirement didn't apply to us today.

Now that we weren't stopping every 5-10 minutes, we made good time, arriving at the shelter at about 1:30. We pitched our tents and tarps at a nearby, large, flat camp spot.

After dinner we were given a show. A couple boys entertained by attempting to hang a bear bag. Who needs TV when you can watch a couple boys try for 30 minutes to throw a rope over a tree limb?

Tomorrow is a big day: We make the climb over Blood Mountain, the highest point in the Georgia section of the AT.

Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won't have to work no more.

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colors all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won't have to cry no more.

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