Day 3 was short: ~8.5 miles to Neel’s Gap from where I camped. The first 6+ was “all the same” through woods, but much more pleasant than day 2. Then the climb up Blood Mountain. From the Southwest it is comfortably strenuous. But quite gorgeous in its own way, unlike any of the other summits so far. The closer you get to the top, the denser the Mountain Laurel, in full bloom, with petals strewn all over the path. You are walking between huge almost-too-picturesque boulders, moss covered rocks, and ferns everywhere. Just before the summit, you enter a small courtyard-like space bounded on 2 sides by large house-sized boulders, a 1930’s era rock cabin and a view to the North. If you can get up on top of the boulders – it’s taller than the shelter – you have a good 360 view.
The descent down the Northbound side (wich is East…) is INTENSE. I can’t imagine walking up it – parts of it would be like climbing stairs, with each step being the size of a household appliance. The fact that it was high noon did not help. Made it to the car by 12:40. Found my buff at home on the kitchen table.