Day 3: Rain and pizza
April 15th : Gooch Mountain Shelter to Neel's Gap
If yesterday was written by Poe and Frost together, today is pure Dickens. Rain, then clouds, then rain, then clouds, and now cold. But it is still okay. If yesterday was for wandering slowly through the misty mountains, marveling at every turn in the path and just soaking in the quiet of it, then today is for cinching your hood tight, looking down at the trail immediately in front of your feet in the mud, and saying, "Okay, legs. Show me what you can do."
Blood Mountain is challenging, even treacherous in the pouring rain, but I fall in step with a Japanese hiker named Sunrise, and I'm reassured that someone will know if I slip and fall to my death or something. We arrive at Mountain Crossings about 15 minutes before it closes. The hostel is full, but I'm in time to get a pizza from the outfitter, and we're allowed to camp on the hill beyond the buildings. I eat and set up camp and then relax in the warmth of the hostel common area. I find a deck of cards, and a French hiker named Etienne and I play Spit and Crazy Eights on the floor while other hikers lounge on sofas and watch E.T. on VHS. When night falls, I trudge back to my tent and zip myself snugly into my sleeping bag with my Sawyer water filter tucked at my feet so that it won't freeze. It's going to be a cold night.