It has been a very long time since I went on a hike with a group. I spent the summer on mostly 24-hour, solo trips. It was always nice to get out to the woods and have some time to explore on my own schedule, but it is hard to beat the enjoyment of spending time with old, and new, friends in the woods.
The trip started out pretty late from Woody Gap, hiking south along the Appalachian. We had our headlamps ready, already expecting a bit of night hiking to make it to Gooch Gap Shelter that night. We made it to the shelter in pretty good time and bundled up for a surprisingly chilly October night for north Georgia. In no time, there was a fire raging and we munched on dinner while talking to the two SOBO hikers who were finishing their trips in the next couple of days. Talking to a hiker that close to the end of their hike can be a great experience, hearing about everything they’ve come across over the last several month, and these two had some really great stories.
We left the shelter the next morning with a pretty aggressive hiking schedule, but as the day dragged on, one of our group members starting feeling under the weather. We decided to change our overall plans for the trip, and found ourselves turning up on the BMT/DRT, to camp about a mile or so from the intersection with the AT. I had actually hiked this trail only a couple of weeks before and found a field with chest high “grass” that made hiking a bit difficult, so warned the other two of the possibility. When we made it to the spot though – nothing. It seems someone had come out in the month a half between my two trips and cleared it. I mean, seriously cleared it.
We decided that with the trail here cleared so nicely, and a campsite tucked just into the trees, we would go ahead and start building up a real comfortable fire and camp.
The next morning was a late start, and with sickness still lingering, we decided we would turn back to the car. The hike back out was pretty uneventful, but ended with a couple of hours of night hiking, and a pretty fantastic night view out over Dahlonega.
All in all, we didn’t end up hiking the trip I had planned, but then again I don’t care. For the first time, the goal of the trip wasn’t to accomplish a distance or test a new trail, but to spend some time with friends out in the woods. So I give the trip a solid A in that sense.