Day Four - From Nero to Zero

Monday, March 28, 2022

Gooch Mountain Shelter (MM 15.8) to Woody Gap (MM 20.5)

NOTE: We are currently hiking through the unceded homelands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ (Tsalaguwetiyi/Cherokee) and Mvskoke (Muskogee) peoples. Most of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ and Mvskoke were murdered or forcibly removed from these lands by white settlers, beginning with the Spanish in 1539 and culminating in 1850 with the United States' program of ethnic cleansing called the Trail of Tears.

Last night we decided it was time to take a day off-trail, often called a Zero Day to take care of Blister's blisters. Just as it sounds, a Zero Day is when we hike zero miles. Similar to a Zero Day, a Nero Day is when you hike nearly zero miles - typically a mileage significantly under one's average. Today is a Nero Day; tomorrow will be our first Zero Day. From Nero to Zero just like that.

Today's hike started with a steady climb out of the shelter and campsite. We hiked with Clutch, some others left before us, some were still to head out when we left. Most of the day we walked over what hikers called PUDs or "Pointless Ups and Downs." Each climb took us higher than the last, each descent stopped short of the previous. Over the course of today's short 4.7 mile walk, we went from an elevation of 2780' to 3203'. That's not bad, really, but the PUDs made it funky.

From (L-R) Trek, Kim, Blisters, Clutch, Dan with a background of Gooch Mountain and other short peaks covered in pre-bloom trees in spring.
(L-R) Trek, Kim, Blisters, Clutch, Dan

When we reached Gooch Gap, Trek had cell service and texted several shuttle drivers to see if anyone had availability to do a pick up at Wood Gap that afternoon. Our second text was Jeff Moon, who agreed to pick us up at 2 o'clock. We eventually caught up to Daniel, Kim, and Happy Feet. We spent some time time at an overlook around mile 18, just before Jacks Gap and snapped a photo. Over the next few miles, we hiked on and off with several folks, leap-frogging here or there. Blisters went ahead and made it to Woody Gap first.

After we got to Woody Gap, our shuttle driver Jeff brought us to Blairsville, GA, where we split a cabin rental for three nights with a couple other hikers. Tonight will be our first night in a bed for a few days. Tomorrow we'll take a Zero Day. Wednesday we're planning on slack-packing from Woody Gap, over Blood Mountain, through to Neel's Gap, where we can hike 0.2 down to where the cabins are located. Then we'll hike on out of Neel's Gap on Thursday morning.