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  1. #1
    Registered User mgeiger's Avatar
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    Default Springer to Neels Gap: 3 Days?

    I've studied the map, elevation profiles and know where shelters and water sources are. I've searched and found a few threads that helped. I know the Blood Mountain area pretty well. Never have done a section hike though.

    My wife and I are looking at doing Springer (no approach) to Neels Gap for my 40th B-Day, sometime mid March-Mid April. We are avid campers, but with a large family, it's more of the car/popup camper variety. This is some of the reasoning behind wanting to do a hike for my bday- to get back and do it how I used to. I have not backpacked in years, but still in slightly better than average shape for my age. My wife is a few years younger and an active tennis player and jogger. The kids will not be joining us.

    The QUESTION: Realistically, can we expect cover the 30.5 miles in 3 full days?

    Obviously hope to do around 10 miles a day, but that doesn't exactly put us at a shelter both nights when figuring those distances. We plan to tent, but some form of trail civilization/access to water would make us more comfortable.

    Any advice, recommendations, shuttle info (leaving a vehicle at the Neels Gap parking lot) is much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    This is very doable in 3 full days. Obviously, factors such as the weather and physical ability will come into play. I took a group of folks with mixed hiking experience last April for this hike. We started on the Approach Trail just after noon on Friday, and finished at Neel Gap around 10:00 a.m. on Monday. It was cold and rainy for most of Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy the trip!

  3. #3
    Registered User clsvideo's Avatar
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    I'm doing pretty much the same section in a couple weeks. Only difference is we are exiting prior to Blood and going into Vogel State Park. This is totally doable in 3 days. That's exactly the amount of time we have allowed ourselves.

  4. #4
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Very doable in 3 days for many, but if it were me heading out for the first time in years and bringing my wife along I would definitely schedule 3.5 days.

  5. #5
    Registered User Papa D's Avatar
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    For a fit backpacker, this should be no problem - I've done Springer to Standing Indian Mtn. Shelter in NC in 5 days including the approach trail.

  6. #6
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    3 days for someone even like myself (flatlander, 50s) is VERY doable. I have the advantage of having a good deal of experience. I know how my body will react. I know my feet will be fine. Coming straight from Illinois I know I will be dang tired doing 10 miles right out of the box, but I've done it so many times now that it is old hat. You don't have that advantage of doing it before.

    IMO, you will do fine as well. Since you have little experience I doubt you have your feet/shoes/boots dialed in. This is one area that can jump up and bite ya. Please do at least a 10-mile dayhike with your planned footwear to see how you do.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  7. #7
    Registered User birdygal's Avatar
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    I heard a lot of people say 3 days, 10 miles a day is a lot when you are backpacking with no experience with 30 lbs on your back, We do a lot of hiking but not backpacking we hiked half the speed with 30lbs on our back and were tired a lot quicker , We did it in 3 full days and 2 half days, I could only do 4 miles the 3rd day on the trail I just had no energy , Another couple we ran into the first few days were 1/2 our age and quit after the 2nd night out

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatMan View Post
    Very doable in 3 days for many, but if it were me heading out for the first time in years and bringing my wife along I would definitely schedule 3.5 days.
    This is probably the best advice given. Its very doable in 3 days for most hikers, but to be on the safe safe side you may very well average 9 mpd and decide to spend the 3rd nite at the tent site on the base of blood. That last day is a quick climb up blood, take the views in from the rocks in front of the shelter, and then cruise down blood for snacks and coffee at MC.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    You can get some idea of your probable pace by doing a day hike with your packs this fall or winter. Try a ten-mile day and see how long it takes you. And see how you feel the next day. There are plenty of people, even people new to backpacking, for whom a ten-mile day is pretty easy. If, however, you misjudge one thing and are carrying too much weight, or have shoes that hurt, or whatever, you will want to scale back your planned mileage.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that there are many mileage and shuttle options in that area. If you have four days set aside, and end up wanting to go farther than Neels Gap, it's not at all hard to arrange a ride back to your car from one other the other road crossings further along the trail.
    Last edited by Marta; 10-31-2011 at 17:50.
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  10. #10
    Registered User clsvideo's Avatar
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    Wool sock liners + wool socks = happy feet. I learned this the hard way.

  11. #11

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    I did AFSP to Neels in 4 days, I stayed at Springer Mountain Shelter, Hawk Mountain Shelter, Gooch Gap Shelter, and pushed to Neels. If I skipped the approach trail, and the weather more favorable, it could totally be done in 3 days time.
    Why am I a wizard?? Thats simple...I am where the trail magic is...

  12. #12
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    If you're in halfway decent shape, as you say you are, then I would think that 3 days would be sufficient. Of course, having the flexibility to spend a third night out there makes everything a bit easier. I accompanied a thru-hiker for the first 3 days of our hike from Amicalola, covering 12 miles each day to Neels in early April 2004, keeping the mileage low so he didn't screw up his joints at the start of his trip. It was cold and windy, and the climb of Blood Mountain will get your heart beating, but we finished earlier than we had projected each day. From there, Hikerhead and I put in 3 consecutive 18-milers to the base of Standing Indian, starting before 8 each morning and finishing by 4 (at least I did, whereas Hikerhead, aka Hokey Pokey, would stroll in hours after me because he just enjoys the uphills so much).
    .
    Remember that it can be difficult to get in a full day on your first day out, as you have to get your car up to Springer and backtrack a mile to the summit. There's a nice camping area and pavilion at Hickory Flatts Cemetery about 4 miles north of the summit if you want to start out with a short day. We also camped atop Ramrock Mountain, 16 miles from Springer, with a great view of the Atlanta skyline about 50 miles away, but there is no water up there.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    This is probably the best advice given. Its very doable in 3 days for most hikers, but to be on the safe safe side you may very well average 9 mpd and decide to spend the 3rd nite at the tent site on the base of blood. That last day is a quick climb up blood, take the views in from the rocks in front of the shelter, and then cruise down blood for snacks and coffee at MC.
    Really...? Cruise down Blood? With all those boulders and rocks? Maybe cruise down the southbound side. Parking is about a half mile down the hwy from MC. There is a spur trail from the AT to the parking lot.. If you choose to finish at MC and ask pretty please they will most likely drive you back to your car. They did for us. Get updated water source reports. Some of the springs were dry last week. No water at Woody ( leave a stash) no water after leaving Hawk Mountain til you get to Gooch. No water after Lance Creek to Neels. We carried up 3 liters each from Woodys and had enough for the hike to the lake trail, dinner, breakfast and the hike into Neels. We used Wes for a shuttle 706-781-4333

  14. #14
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear Cables View Post
    Get updated water source reports. Some of the springs were dry last week. No water at Woody ( leave a stash) no water after leaving Hawk Mountain til you get to Gooch. No water after Lance Creek to Neels. We carried up 3 liters each from Woodys and had enough for the hike to the lake trail, dinner, breakfast and the hike into Neels. We used Wes for a shuttle 706-781-4333
    They are planning for next spring.
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  15. #15
    Registered User Northern Lights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard 2009 View Post
    I did AFSP to Neels in 4 days, I stayed at Springer Mountain Shelter, Hawk Mountain Shelter, Gooch Gap Shelter, and pushed to Neels. If I skipped the approach trail, and the weather more favorable, it could totally be done in 3 days time.
    Agreed, I'm not in great shape. Had a 50 pound pack before water and did it in about 2.5 days. I did not do the approach trail however. Stayed at Hawk, Gooch and then into Neels the third day.

  16. #16
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    The last time I was down south in 2008, I left Springer around 10am and reached Neels Gap around 3pm the following day, there are a few bumps in there but nothing overly tough IMO, I was 33 at the time and smoking cigarettes, about 24-25lbs and in relatively good trail shape. Springer to Neels in 3 days sounds about right, although I don't think there is much water between Hawk Mountain and Justus Creek, so you might have to adjust your mileage to camp near water on your first day. Lots of small ups and downs in GA, but whether or not this is challenging has a lot more to do with your experience than anything else.

  17. #17
    Registered User mgeiger's Avatar
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    Good advice on everything. I go up Blood from Neels about once a year in the Winter, and it's not too hard of a hike in my book. I know that stint is overdone, but it's a special place for me. I do feel it the next day or two, but I think that's normal for anybody who sits at a desk 50 hours a week. Definitely going to take the sock advice and we both have Merrell hiking shoes we like. I am on version 3.0 in aluminum can alcohol stove design exploration, and I picked up a famed "grease pot" at walmart this morning. The more I poke around this site the more I appreciate the shared knowledge and general good vibe from all. Thank you.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChinMusic View Post
    They are planning for next spring.
    Right...missed that.

  19. #19
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Can it be done in 3 days? Sure. But given the spacing of the shelters (and thus of water and good tent sites), if I were bringing my wife I would plan on 3.5 days, and be okay with finishing a day early, rather than end up pushing it to make a deadline.

    For example, the first day is an easy 8 miles to Hawk Mountain shelter, then the trail has some sudden and steep climbs, 3 or 4 of them in a row, before the next decent camp site at Justus Creek. Not something a beginning hiker should plan to do at the end of the first day, IMHO. Same thing on the third day -- climbing Blood Mountain at the end of the day might not be such a great idea. Planning an extra night out just in case would be a good strategy.

    Have fun. That's a good time to be on the trail. Lots of other hikers, good views. Be prepared for much colder weather than you expect.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mgeiger View Post
    I've studied the map, elevation profiles and know where shelters and water sources are. I've searched and found a few threads that helped. I know the Blood Mountain area pretty well. Never have done a section hike though.

    My wife and I are looking at doing Springer (no approach) to Neels Gap for my 40th B-Day, sometime mid March-Mid April. We are avid campers, but with a large family, it's more of the car/popup camper variety. This is some of the reasoning behind wanting to do a hike for my bday- to get back and do it how I used to. I have not backpacked in years, but still in slightly better than average shape for my age. My wife is a few years younger and an active tennis player and jogger. The kids will not be joining us.

    The QUESTION: Realistically, can we expect cover the 30.5 miles in 3 full days?

    Obviously hope to do around 10 miles a day, but that doesn't exactly put us at a shelter both nights when figuring those distances. We plan to tent, but some form of trail civilization/access to water would make us more comfortable.

    Any advice, recommendations, shuttle info (leaving a vehicle at the Neels Gap parking lot) is much appreciated.
    Just get up, pack up, and start walking until you get to where you plan to stop. At the most (1.33 miles/hr, pretty slow), it will take you 7.5 hours of walking. So break camp and hit trail at 9 AM and get to where you camp at 4:30 PM. What's not to like?
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