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Gear Malfunction

18th April 2017

18.8 miles

Lance Creek camp (24) to Low Gap Shelter (42.9)

It was midnight. I woke to bright flashing lights followed a couple of seconds later by the rumble that seemed to shake my tent. The storm continued for a couple of hours and I slept through the rest of it.

It was a big climb up to the top of Blood Mountain, which is the hardest section of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, so I’m told. It’s also reputed that during civil war days blood could be seen trickling down the mountain from the many battles in this area.

There was no view from the top due to the foggy low clouds. I stopped at the cabin near the top for a little rest break. There were many weary hikers taking a break. The descent was steep and rocky but not to difficult, I thought.

At the bottom of the hill, called Neels Gap, I found a beer sitting on the side of the trail right next to a gear outfitter that makes a killing on under prepared hikers. I’m shocked by the amount of people carrying backpacks more than twice the size and weight of mine. I needed to replace my Sawyer water filter due to a broken nozzle, I’m sure it’s covered by warranty but I can’t recall where I bought it.

I had another malfunction. I went to top up the charge in my phone with my extra battery that I carry. It was broken. It was at 75% charge the night before. So I went into phone battery conservation mode, no blog till town (I’m in Hiawassee writing this), conserve the use of gps for navigation – just use it to find water sources, no social media ect. Looks like I’ll be returning that battery to Amazon and buying another.

I set off from the Neels Gap and hiked up yet another hill. I’m in the Deep South of the United States, the Bible Belt, I’ve been blessed and preyed for everyday. With the trail name ‘Shepherd’, I tend to get a little extra attention from many hikers who want to prey for my wellbeing. I can’t say I’ve experienced such a thing before, everyone is so friendly and helpful. Maybe their prayers were answered when a guy from a nearby hostel was waiting on the side of the road to pick up hikers and let me charge my phone. Thank you.

I wandered into Low Gap Shelter quite late. The shelter only holds about 8 people but there’s a stream nearby and lots of camping. I socialised with many hikers at the picnic table while I cooked and ate dinner. I found the hikers who left the beer at the side of the trail, I had a chance to thank them. There are loads of friendly hikers on the trail. The social side of hiking the Appalachian Trail is alive and well.

As it started to get dark I found a campsite and went to bed. The night was my worst night camping, ever. Stay tuned to find out what nastiness happened next.

new growth

hiking in the rain

Climbing Blood Mountain in the rain and cloud

blood mountain shelterblood mountain

blood mountain

The great view from the top of Blood Mountain

blood mountain

neels gap

Old shoes at Neels Gap near the Outfitters



Inside the outfitters

outfittersneels gap



appalachian trailnew growth

the flowers


appalachian trail georgianew growth

appalachian trail shelter

Low Gap Shelter

You might be interested in:

The Complete Pacific Great Trail Guide
The Complete Continental Divide Trail Guide
The Complete Appalachian Trail Guide
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

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24 Responses

  1. lisafrederic

    Damnit I have limited Internet here on the west side of Kodiak and now I have to wait for another day and Hope you aren’t too busy walking – to tell all!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      It should be posted in an hour or so. Add your email to my mailing list and I’ll. e able to let you know as soon as it’s posted, if you haven’t already

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Not quite, the trail has been kind to me. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

  2. Heather

    Ahhh, you are going to make us wait?? I am wondering if it was a leaking tent, a visit from a bear, or a crazy person. Any of the three would be awful!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      The rain has been so heavy I think most of us have some sort of minor leak, that’s nothing out here in this kind of rain.

  3. John Wilson

    Hmm, so let’s see. My top three “worst night camping” scenarios would be:

    #3 – Tent damaged, or floods due to extreme weather – hail / wind / rain etc,

    #2 – Persistent visits from rabid / vicious / ornery wild animals – skunks / coyotes / raccoons / bears etc.

    #1 – The hillbillies from “Deliverance” walk in to the campsite, lookin’ for some “fun”…

    By the way, great wildflower shots!

    Canada Goose

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks Canada Goose, all three are bad, my incident was a little different, stay tuned.

    • Packman Pete

      Sorry John. None of the above. It would be,,,,,,forgot to bring toilet paper and used poison ivy instead.

  4. Don in Steve Point, Wisconsin

    I have been following your adventure from start in Alaska, awesome. The three petal flower you “?” above is a Trillium.
    Best wishes on the AT.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks Don, that’s a lot of time reading about my journey, glad you lasted this long. Thanks for the info on the Trillium.

  5. Kelly Baraga

    What? I’m on pins and needles? What happened? Worst night ever? I can only imagine. Preyed for sounds serious. Are there lions and tigers out there and you are prey? Just wondering cuz that would make for a terrifying night. But just know that I pray for you and the safety of your trip and completion of the triple crown, my friend. This is so exciting. Hang in there, it only gets better, as you are well aware ?

  6. Happy

    The white 3 petal flower is a Trillium. The next to last photo of the maroon colored petals is also a Trillium. The purple flower is a violet.

  7. Alison

    Your worst night of camping ever?!?! Don’t make us wait too long. I am dying to know what happened! Those pretty flowers are trillium.


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