We had to be up early to get a room at blood mountain cabins so it was decided Kevin and Andrew would slack pack to the cabins to reserve them. They left some of there gear and broke camp around 7 am. Come to find out the day was already starting off gloriously. Andrews water leaked all over his stuff, so did Mellanie’s, Kevin had left the entire contents of his pack, totalling over 40 lbs to be spread out among the 6 of us. What a great start to the day. Mellanie still wasn’t a hundred percent and we have a hard 5 miles to do to Neels Gap. As a group we were not looking forward to the hike today. I checked our map to find out what we had in front of us when jess asked if there was a close gap to shuttle the gear forward and then climb the mountain. What a great idea we all thought. The newlyweds had taken the bulk items and we’re well on their way but the three of us all had Kevin’s stuff, which was the bulk of the weight.
Each step we took was labored under the heavy loads. Mellanie’s limp was evident with the weight, we had to to something. Sure enough there was an unmarked side trail to Henry Gap just a mile up the trail. This next mile went fast only because it was flat. Coming up on a side trail I sprint down it just to see what is ahead, my eyes widen and a huge smile comes across my face. Good god there is a road, houses, and everything just a few yards from where we are. The girls and I are ecstatic. Walking up to the first house I ask if I can borrow his phone to try and call a shuttle. After many attempt to reach someone, I got a hold of Ron and he was more than willing to help, the only problem was, he was 2 hours away.
We will just have to wait with the gear then. After we discussed our options I decided to stay with the gear while the girls would hike on and catch the newlyweds. I knocked the door against inform the home owner when all of a sudden, trail magic. He said he would drop us at Neels Gap since it was right up the road. This is so awesome we all thought, relieved, happy, we were just feeling the trail vibe. We should get there right about the time Kevin and Andrew reach the mountain cabins.
Arriving at the cabins I run inside looking for the two and they are nowhere to be found. Great, what are we going to do, I have to get rooms now since they are rent here. Rooms booked I walk out side to find the girls in high spirits. Mellanie has decided to take today off to let her blisters heal. That’s a good choice we thought. All that is left to do is to race up the sheer side of blood mountain and catch the newlyweds. Just as we get to the crossing we spy two familiar faces, Kevin and Andrew walking down to the cabins. They trot off to stay with Mellanie while we continued on our journey.
The next 2 or so miles were very tough going, we were hiking at a good pace and Jess was in mom mode. Nothing was going to slow her from getting to the others. Mud after rock scramble after technical climb we ascended the harder side of the mountain. We passed all of our friends on the way up, each asking what was going on. The air was cool and overcast which was good, we were sweating hard. In just about an hour we finally got to the top just in time to catch the newlyweds starting there descent.
As I chatted with them for a bit, updating them with the situation, Jess and I made our way to the very top to finish the mountain. The views were amazing up here. We snapped a good many pictures, signed the log book, and just rested from our climb. More of our friends were still up here so we stayed a whiile. This was a great time to call Kim so I checked to see if I had a signal sure enough I did. I called her and I can’t tell you how good it was to hear her voice even though I’d just heard it the day before.
Our climb down went very quick. At this point we all had our own things to do. So I took off for the gear store and ate, the newlyweds were getting a shake down by the outfitters, Kevin, Mellanie, and Jason headed to town to get food, and Andrew was trying to get wifi. There was a nice twist of events too, Dutchy who had hiked out a few days ago had returned to hang for the day. God it was good to see him, he is probably the funniest, coolest guy to hangout with. He said he had an epiphany the other day and instead of doing the miles he’d rather hang with The Pod, how awesome is that.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with showers, food, shakedown, laughs, and good friends.thd general conscience was Kevin needed a shakedown desperately. It was so needed that we all took bets on what his pack weight was. Even funnier he now has no choice or say in his trail name, whatever his pack weight is that will be his name. 47, 52, 65, I wonder what it will be since he has already dropped 13 pounds of gear along the trail.