This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.
It’s only day two and already a full breakfast at camp hasn’t been setting well; today I just settled on a Clif Bar and set out. A couple miles ahead I crossed Justus creek and knew that was the spot for a full breakfast and coffee. Debbie caught up to me at the creek, which seemed impressive given her meager 5-miles-a-day goal. She sat across the creek and chatted while I ate. Then I set off again reflecting on just how refreshing that creek-side spot turned out to be.
A few miles and a few water/snack breaks later I was at Gooch Gap and decided to have lunch. Debbie caught up again- an even bigger surprise because she said she would stay at Gooch shelter a ways back! I chatted for a minute and then said a final goodbye as she looked for a spot to camp at Gooch Gap.
There were a few good views between Gooch Mountain and Big Cedar Mountain today, but the real excitement was at Woody Gap! I met up with the group from Melbourne/Palm Bay Area as they were packing the car up. At first I passed by, once I noticed it was he Florida group from the trail, I stopped and said a quick farewell. When I did they offered me an ice cold Powerade from the cooler – my first trail magic! I crossed the road and downed the Powerade so I could trash the bottle at Woody Gap instead of packing the bottle with me for miles. It was refreshing. Just what I needed for the next climb up Big Cedar; it was challenging. The view on top was pretty good, though.
About a mile from my camp destination, Lance Creek, it started raining – Poncho: ON. It was actually my first time using the poncho and it kept me AND the pack dry. I also set up my tent in some light rain, but it stopped a little later and I was able to wipe out the moisture. Yay for not sleeping in a wet tent! Afterwards I waited on my food to hydrate, reflected on the day and realized how much I missed the wife and kids. It’s nice to escape into nature, but the people I love are still No. 1.
Lance creek was pretty full that night but I found a spot next to an eccentric guy named “Phil” who seemed raised in the backwood and said he was in the area to pan for Gold. Apparently he wasn’t really having luck finding a spot to pan for gold having hiked somewhere between Woody Gap and Blood Mountain and was headed back towards Woody Gap. Interesting dude, but really nice.
Regardless of more rain and missing the family, I had still hiked a 12 mile day and felt pretty good about it.