Our hikers met at WCA at 5:30am Saturday morning for our 2nd pre-trek hike in preparation for Philmont next summer. After breakfast in Cleveland at the Chick-fil-a, we arrived at Neel’s Gap, famous for the only structure that is actually on the trail, the Mountain Crossings store. The threat of smoke or wildfire related issues did not materialize, instead we great sunny weather with a cool breeze. The 2 crews started together going up the Byron Reece Trail. Once at the intersection with the AT, the 2 crews separated for the rest of the hike. Crew 2 continued on the AT and UP Blood Mountain. Crew 1 smartly continued on the Freeman trail and went around Blood Mountain. Once on the other side of the mountain, both crews made an out and back from Bird Gap to Jarrard Gap. After lunch, Crew 1 then returned to the start by going up and down Blood Mountain while Crew 2 returned by taking the Freeman Trail around. Both crews met up at the Mountain Crossings store and set up camp nearby. I understand that both crews did really well on the trail. On Crew 1, Tristan M. did a great job with pace setting. The hike was strenuous but enjoyable and ended up being close to 9 miles.
Each crew ate dinner as it began to get dark and then tried to entertain each other so we wouldn’t have to go to bed at 6:30pm. We enjoyed a cool but not cold night and eagerly woke early at 5:45am to pack up. The crews did a great job getting packed up, still in the dark. This will be a needed ability in Philmont. We were on to breakfast, this time at Huddle House. We were treated to waffles, omelets, biscuits and grits at the #1 Huddle House in America. It’s true, they said so!
Crew 1 attendees:
Tristan M., Stephen P, Tanner W., Tom W., Robert P.
Crew 2 attendees:
Jake A, Drew C, Thomas D, Jackson M, Sean M, Brett A, Dave A