Day 4 went from Gooch Mtn Shelter to Gooch Gap – 1.3 miles.
The night before as I was walking into Gooch Mtn Shelter, I briefly met Fresh Ground who had walked in from Gooch Gap to let us know that he had set up Leap Frog Cafe at Gooch Gap for trail magic. He was planning on making banana pancakes for us all!
So as I set out that day behind Life Alert, I knew what I had to look forward to. However, as hopeful as I tried to be about my situation, the prognosis had deteriorated. I told Life Alert to hike on at her pace without me because I was holding her back big time. She hiked ahead and I hobbled. My trekking poles were no longer trekking poles, but crutches. I knew the only way out was to get to Gooch Gap and find a ride out, so I had to keep pressing forward.
I was so incredibly defeated at that point. I was in so much physical pain, but mentally I was running thin too. I started calling myself a Komodo Dragon because of my near crawling pace.
To make matters worse, I was passed up by everyone who left camp after I did. I felt the tears coming. It was so demoralizing. I remember telling someone as they passed that Fresh Ground might be gone by the time I finally made it!
I had to stop every couple of steps because I just couldn’t handle the pain. About halfway, I put Paxley down to get out some ibuprofen to just get me to Gooch Gap… I took 10 200 mg ibuprofen all at the same time just to get myself there!
I did finally make it to Fresh Ground and his Leap Frog Cafe where all my friends were waiting for me – God bless them. Fresh Ground took one look at me, saw those tears nearly pouring out told me to just take a seat, asked hot chocolate or coffee, and said my banana pancake was up next. By the time I hobbled over to the chair, he was already handing me a hot chocolate with 2 packets – that’s a GOOD man right there.
One banana pancake later, he said “There we go! Got some life back into that face now!” I ended up eating 2 more banana pancakes, a grilled cheese (because yes, it was lunch by the time I finally made it), and fresh cut French fries. It was so delicious! And truly it was something I really needed after struggling.
I encourage you to check out his Facebook page and consider donating to his Leap Frog Cafe! He is donations based ONLY. As the hikers travel north, he “Leap frogs” with them and sets up his cafe along the way (starting in Georgia all the way to Maine) to cook 3 full meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for every hiker that passes by him. His mission is to treat everyone the same no matter where they come from and just be kind and show love to everyone. Please consider donating to his Cafe!
After he made sure we were all fed and full, he gave us the phone number of a shuttler in the area that he knew would be able to pick us up and take us to Neel Gap so we could go to the outfitter to get new shoes and stay at the Blood Mtn Cabins. His trail name is Suches (when I find his full info, I will add it here). He thru hiked the AT SOBO, I think, in 2012?
He picked Life Alert, Weeds, and me and took us into Neel Gap where we split a cabin at Blood Mountain Cabins. We stayed in Rabbit and really enjoyed our time there!
That afternoon, we walked to Mountain Crossings where I got my new shoes and sent my old ones back home. I got a pair of Oboz and a very low profile insole for them.
I really like them so far, I just have a lot of residual bruising from my last pair I am trying to take care of.
That evening, we decided to give Suches a call to see if he could bring us beer and pizza because we had heard he did the same for Chandler and his dad the night before. So, we feasted on beer and pizza.
Thanks for joining me on Expedition Elizabeth!