March 5, 1998

3/5/98 Gooch Gap campsite

8.7 miles (16.4 total)

It started to rain as I fell asleep last night and didn’t stop until 8 o’clock this morning. I had a restless night because I was so hot. All night I kept taking clothes off until I ended up stripping down completely. What a change from the previous night.

Got an earlier start this morning, about 8:30, and made good time all day. That was despite the fact that during the climbs, it seemed I stopped I every 20-feet to rest and catch my breath. The trail went through some dramatic changes throughout the day. First, there was rock uphill. Then came long stretches of muddy through forest blow-downs that looked like an Air Force bombing run, and then through something like a rain forest, only colder.

I was surprised I got to the shelter a few hours earlier than expected. The Gooch Gap Shelter was completely full despite the early time of the day. The younger guys I met at Springer decided to make it a short day because of tent problems. This was the first time I had met Smokie, another thru-hiker.

Because the shelter is built on a steep incline, I had to travel farther down the trail to Gooch Gap to find a place to pitch my tent. The Gap was shrouded in fog, with it sprinkling still but kind of hot and humid. It was kind of lonely down there all by myself. I climbed the trail back to the shelter several times to hang out with everyone else. Planting Flowers found a place to pitch a tent that I hadn’t thought of, right on the trail. I think everyone was down because of tired bodies and wet weather.

I finally retreated back to my campsite as evening approached. Tomorrow I’ll push a hard 12 miles to Blood Mountain. Hopefully, I’ll get another early start.