Stover Creek Shelter to Gooch Mountain Shelter – 12.9 miles
Little bit longer day with some harder climbs. Woke up to rain, but it did not last long. Started raining again when I was a mile from the shelter. A ridge runner said there might be snow tomorrow…we’ll see. Hoping to make it the 15 miles to Neels Gap tomorrow.
I wasn’t very good at documenting the people I met at the beginnging of the trail. There were so many people and it was so cold, all I had the energy to write was the bare minimum. I do remember one woman in particular that I met when I first signed the register as an AT thru hiker at Amicalola Falls. She was thru hiker #827 and I was thru hiker #828. Her name was Merielle (I could never pronounce it correctly) and she would say that she was “hiking home to Quebec.” I saw her a lot – also hiking with her mom for the first few days on trail – because we stayed at the same campsites for the first few days. She was a much faster hiker than me but with her mom hiking with her, we kept pace with each other for a while. I later found her in an interview on Youtube and she had the trail name ‘Zoom Zoom.’ A very fitting name for a very fast hiker.
Hiking to Gooch Mountain Shelter I mainly remember what the weight of my pack felt like. I would stop every once in a while to bend over and support my pack weight on my hiking poles to give my back and hips some relief before standing up straight again to keep moving. I had never backpacked with a pack this heavy – with or without a trombone – and it was definitely slowing me down. Just like the day before, the last mile of my hike that day greeted me with cold rain. I got to the shelter around 1 or 2pm to find it full of other thru hikers, so I went to find a flat spot to set up my tent in the rain. When that was finally set up and my fingers were numb, I took my food and joined the other hikers at the table under the cover of the shelter out of the rain. At this shelter is where I first met Gramps and Sani who would become part of my trail family later on. Talking with them and the other hikers in the shelter, they tell me that they took a zero day in the shelter to avoid the cold rain…I’m still a little annoyed by that, but Sani and Gramps more than made up for it further down the trail.