It was already after 4:30 p.m. and it was 7.4 miles from where we were to reach Neel Gap. On fresh legs that would maybe be possible to do, but I knew then that it wasn't for me.
My original plan was to get to Jarrard Gap, so it wasn't a problem to stick with that.
I should say, it wasn't a problem as long as I could solve two problems.
The first was that the water was questionable. One source said it was three-tenths of a mile from the gap. The other said an unreliable spring was only 100 feet away. I didn't want to spend a lot of time hunting and carrying water.
The second problem had to do with camping spots. From March 1 to June 1, the Forest Service requires that campers between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap have a bear canister.
I'm certain bears can't read a calendar, so I know the regulation doesn't have anything to do with the number of bears in the area.
The Forest Service presumes most hikers don't want to carry a bear canister, so the regulation Is used to control over-use of campsites during the thru-hiker bubble.
With less than a mile to go before reaching Jarrard Gap I saw two hikers, Donqui (as in Don Quixote) and Q-Tip, setting up camp. They too were concerned about tomorrow's forecast, and they said they planned to get up early in order to try to beat the worst of the weather.
I said that was my plan too, but because I had less than a liter of water with me I needed to get down to Jarrard Gap to find some.