Sat, Feb 25 2017 - Key swap Woody Gap-Neels Gap-Blood Mountain 10.7 (View Original Event Details)|
The second annual Woody Gap-Neels Gap-Blood Mountain key swap was great fun for our tiny but mighty teams. Switching it up this year, Team Lisa started at Woody, while Team Wynn began at Neels. The wind nearly blew us off our feet as we emerged from our vehicles at Woody. Regretting having left our gloves at home, we hurriedly set off along the AT toward Big Cedar Mountain. We soon warmed up and paused to savor the views from Preachers Rock. A chatty day hiker detained us briefly but we soon continued on, as we had more mountains to climb. We followed the usual AT routine: Gap, Mountain, Down, Up, Repeat.
Shortly after trekking through Jarrard Gap, we spied our Team Wynn cohorts coming our way. We completed the usual fist bumps and key swap, then broke bread together on the trail. But the chilly wind was relentless so we didn't linger too long.
Team Lisa had a chance encounter with the AOC's Scott and Laura who were picking up the AT via the Slaughter Creek trail from Lake Winfield Scott. We paused to admire the view after powering up the stone steps and steep switchbacks toward Blood Mountain. After a moment of quiet serenity we rounded the bend to the Blood Mountain shelter and were greeted by the throngs enjoying views from the boulders above the shelter. We picked our way along the rocky trail and before long caught sight of the road. We ran into Mister Chatty from Preacher's Rock again but soon continued along our way. We popped over to Mountain Crossings to check out their annual kick off party for the thru hikers, catching some live music before heading back to the car.
Team Wynn was already at the designated meeting place, Gustavo's pizza joint, when Team Lisa strolled in. Of course TL was the faster group and would have beaten TW to Gustavo's, had it not been for chatty guy and listening to the band. It was an even tie as both TW and TL returned to the Mansell Park & Ride at the exact same time (although SOME people might crown whoever gets out of the car first the victor; this is clearly not the case). Guess we will need to do another key swap: Best 4 out of 7?