Neel Gap to Swaim Gap to Neel Gap
There and back again…
The day got off to a slow start. We slept in, visited with the other hikers and then had a “pack shakedown” at Mountain Crossing outfitter. This is an AT thru hiker tradition. The staff there will sort through all you gear, and give you advice on what they think you need to add or subtract or change to help make your hike successful. They have years of experience as long distance hikers, and all have done several thru hikes on the AT.
It’s also a bit of a game among the thru hikers. Bragging rights to how much weight they did or didn’t send home, and what they kept in spite of the advice.
Oddbird had done months of research, and I had added some of my own. So we did a good job and only ended up with a small pile of things they recommended we jettison.
After the shakedown, we set off for a slack pack. Oddbird took some lunch stuff and our water in my lighter pack, and we hiked round trip to Swain Gap and back, about 4 miles.
The sun was shining and hot at the top of Levelland Mountain, so we stopped there to eat lunch and play in the sunshine for a while. I even had a nap. It was a beautiful day, and wonderful hiking.
It was also the day I knew I had overdone things. Even without a pack, I needed all my strength and determination to hike. My feet were swollen and the arches and balls of my feet hurt with every step. I was exhausted. But I put on a brave face. Oddbird knew I was tired, but not the extent of my aches or my exhaustion.