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  1. #1
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    Default Section Hike - Springer to Unicoi

    I'm planning a section hike with one companion in September from Springer to Unicoi Gap. We'll have four full days available to hike this distance which appears to be about 51 miles.

    Some other posts I've seen indicate that it could take 3 days to reach Neels Gap (31 miles)? Is this so? Is the terrain that difficult?

    I wasn't expecting to bust out 20 miles a day, but I didn't think 12-15 was out of the question. We were actually considering adding the approach trail so we wouldn't finish too early.

    I have hiked many times before, just not this part of Georgia, and 15 miles a day has been entirely obtainable in the past for me. Am I being naive about a section of trail of which I have no experience?

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Maybe not. For many hikers, the Georgia section is their first experience in mountainous terrain, and it comes as something of a shock. If you can regularly hike 15 miles per day in the mountains, with steep short climbs, then you should be able to hit Gooch Mountain on day 1, Neels on day 2, Low Gap on day 3, and hike out to Unicoi on day 4. Those last two days are shorter. If you want to add the Approach Trail, go for it. That might make it Hawk on day 1, Lance Creek on day 2, Cowrock Mtn on day 3, and out to Unicoi on day 4. Longer days but doable if you're in shape for it.

    In any case, there are so many places to bail out that it's not a problem if you don't get all the way to Unicoi, you can easily get a ride to your car. Maybe park at Neels or The Hiker Hostel and just plan to be picked up at the end no matter where that is.
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  3. #3
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    Our plan is to stay at Hiker Hostel on a Thursday night, start hiking Friday AM, and crawl out of the woods on Monday.

  4. #4

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    If you can hike 15 miles a day then there is nothing that difficult about this section that should slow you down. Many people REACH Neels early on day 3 but there is no reason to call it day unless you want to. Many thrus will spend the nite as it is a chance for them to shower and wash clothes. Others grab a Coke, wander around for 15 minutes, and keep on going.

  5. #5

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    A Max Patch explained, most people time it to arrive at Neels early on day 3. Most then spend the 3d day and night there, but arriving early allows one to resupply and hike on if they wish. (Although, some take up to 5 or 6 days to arrive at Neels).

    In September there will be less competion for bunk space at the hostel, so arriving late on the 2nd day would not be unreasonable. A lot of it will depend on the weather.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    (Although, some take up to 5 or 6 days to arrive at Neels).
    This would be true. Thank you for acknowledging that not everyone is a super 12-15 mile a day hiker right out of the box. I really take offense to posters who say things like MOST hikers ...... without qualifying that not everyone hikes at the same rate or same mileage. That being said, with the OP's age and hiking experience, it seems likely that the OP could reach Neels at end of 2nd day or beginning of 3rd day and so be able to reach Unicoi at end of 4th day.

    OP: You will LOVE the Hiker Hostel!
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  7. #7
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    Thanks to all for the responses, which have raised another question.

    What all is available in terms of food at Neels Gap? The outfitter there has a website and info about the hostel, but not much on food. I was sort hoping to do a resupply there to lighten my load.

    Also, while I'm sure they have plenty of high calorie cold food, do they have a resturaunt or grill of any sort?

  8. #8

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    There is no resturant at Neels. They have some microwave stuff and Hot dogs. For resupply, there is a good selection of snacks, Knorr pasta and rice sides, oatmeal packets, poptarts, tuna packets, some Mountian House meals and the like. A pretty basic selection, but enough to live on for a few days - but conveniance comes at a price. Since your only out for a few days, I'd pack enough dinners for the trip and just restock lunch snacks.
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  9. #9

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    You will be able to resupply there which is what I would do. They have plenty hiker food.

    I normally just get a soft drink and a candy bar, but unless things have changed you can get a hot dog or a slice of microwavable pizza. Not a restaurant.

    During thru hiker season church groups will often grill hamburgers, etc but you can't count on that.

  10. #10
    Registered User AngryGerman's Avatar
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    Resupply at Neels is more than adequate. They have microwavable pizzas for immediate consumption and at the time I went through they were trying to get a sandwich deal going with a local patron. Also, Pirate cooks every night on a donation basis. Pirate makes good food and as a starving SOBO those pizzas kick arse. I consumed more than a few during my short stay and had an excellent time hanging with the staff! As stated by others; for a fresh hiker I would say plan on hitting Neels at the end of day two or the morning of day three; Sobo thru-hiker time, eta one to one in half days tops.

  11. #11
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    marti038: Here's something to think about, if the Hiker Hostel people are driving you to Springer parking lot on Friday morning.....You might not get to the parking lot until 9:30am or so.

  12. #12
    Registered User canoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatnot View Post
    marti038: Here's something to think about, if the Hiker Hostel people are driving you to Springer parking lot on Friday morning.....You might not get to the parking lot until 9:30am or so.
    I am planning on hiking this same section in a few weeks. Why is there a 9:30am problem. Is this a weekend crowd or something differant

  13. #13
    Registered User Spirit Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marti038 View Post
    I'm planning a section hike with one companion in September from Springer to Unicoi Gap. We'll have four full days available to hike this distance which appears to be about 51 miles.

    Some other posts I've seen indicate that it could take 3 days to reach Neels Gap (31 miles)? Is this so? Is the terrain that difficult?

    I wasn't expecting to bust out 20 miles a day, but I didn't think 12-15 was out of the question. We were actually considering adding the approach trail so we wouldn't finish too early.

    I have hiked many times before, just not this part of Georgia, and 15 miles a day has been entirely obtainable in the past for me. Am I being naive about a section of trail of which I have no experience?
    Depends on if this is your first backpack experience in the Appalachian mountains. I attempted to hike from springer to Dicks creek last july, my first time backpacking and I was banking on doing 15 miles a day. My pack weighed around 35lbs with food and water and by the time I got to Neel's gap my knee was swollen, I had 3 blisters and I called it quits. I recently picked back up with my pack only weighing 15 lbs with no food or water and the max weight with 3 days of food at 24lbs. I also ditched my boots for sportive wildcats and hiked from Neels Gap to the Summit of Standing INdian Mountain. The 2nd trip I didn't get any knee or foot problems. I personally don't think there are any really hard parts in Georgia on the A.T. It's all mental and if your pack is light enough and you have good shoes for your feet you will be fine doing 12-15 mile days. I think the hardest climb from springer to Unicoi is out of testanee gap up to wildcat mtn before hogpen gap. The hardest day would actually be out of Unicoi to Deep gap shelter. The hardest 15 mile section in GA in my opinion.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Bear View Post
    I think the hardest climb from springer to Unicoi is out of testanee gap up to wildcat mtn before hogpen gap.
    I agree with this 1000%. That's not an extra zero. I told numerous people that wildcat mtn should be renamed Spirit Crusher Mtn. oh well, I persevered on.

    As far as Unicoi to Deep Gap shelter, yes, I agree that Unicoi to Tray Mtn Shelter was somewhat rough but doable. Did not think Tray Mtn shelter to Deep Gap shelter was bad at all. As a matter of fact, I really liked that section. The birds were singing so sweetly. Had a very nice lunch break at Swag of the Blue Ridge. The hiking really was not challenging in this area. And I'm the person that almost every other single person hiking passed.
    Trillium

  15. #15
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    if you have the time, you should hike the Approach Trail too. When it comes to the Southern Appalachians, you will find the summer heat/humidity can slow you down, any hiking speeds you normally do on the AT in fall/winter weather .... are more difficult to sustain in the summer heat/humidity, north GA can get as hot and humid as Florida in the summer.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by marti038 View Post
    I'm planning a section hike with one companion in September from Springer to Unicoi Gap. We'll have four full days available to hike this distance which appears to be about 51 miles.

    Some other posts I've seen indicate that it could take 3 days to reach Neels Gap (31 miles)? Is this so? Is the terrain that difficult?

    I wasn't expecting to bust out 20 miles a day, but I didn't think 12-15 was out of the question. We were actually considering adding the approach trail so we wouldn't finish too early.

    I have hiked many times before, just not this part of Georgia, and 15 miles a day has been entirely obtainable in the past for me. Am I being naive about a section of trail of which I have no experience?
    Its only hard, for some people.
    20mpd is possible for someone 1) in good shape 2) pack under 25 lbs.
    If you hike 12-15 mpd in mountains, you will have no problem.

    In any case, all it takes to go farther, is to hike longer. Eat dinner at 430pm, take 1 hr break, and do 5 more miles.

    I did Amicalola to Unicoi in 3 days, 62 miles.

    Do the approach, the falls are really the highlight of GA.

    You will like the Hiker Hostel.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-12-2013 at 00:07.

  17. #17
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    Thank you all so much for your input. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

  18. #18
    El Sordo
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    send a drop box to yourself at Neels Gap and self-supply.
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  19. #19
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    Anybody know how strong an AT&T cell reception would be at Woody Gap or Neel Gap?

  20. #20
    Registered User RoadApe's Avatar
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    The Hiker Hostel at Neals Gap is freaking awesome

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