Had a hard time leaving Hot Springs this morning. It’s a great little town, everything a hiker needs. The Laughing Heart Hostel was fabulous; it just opened this season and I highly recommend it. Did 11 miles today and at Spring Mountain Shelter. Was in the hiker zone most of the day and felt good. Next stop, Erwin Tennessee in about 5 days.
These signs are on the sidewalks in Hot Springs, pointing the way for hikers. The trail goes right through town.
The French Broad River as I was leaving town
This morning I made the decision to shuttle 30 miles up the trail to Hot Springs, NC. Due to the continued inclement weather, I didn’t want to sit around at the hostel for another couple of days waiting it out. In Hot Springs, I at least have access to the public library for internet, so here I am. I’ll have to go back and finish up that 30 miles after I finish the trail in September. It’s cold, windy, rainy, and snowing up on the mountain today. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. I’m staying at a new hostel in Hot Springs, it’s very nice. Got a hot shower and went to the laundromat. Nobody on the streets in town except fellow hikers. I picked up my mail drop today and found a lovely present in there from my friend Amy Ellen. Thanks, Amy, it made me smile. The cookies that were in the box were delicious too, whoever put those in. This is a nice town, right on the French Broad River. Eager to get back out on the trail however, I’m finding towns to be very tedious these days.
This morning I hiked the 3.6 miles to Standing Bear Farm Hostel in the pouring rain. I’m glad I pulled up last night and stayed at the shelter, leaving only a short hike today. It has poured rain and been cold all day – definite hypothermia weather. I’m sharing a cabin with Slushee, Captain and Bear Hands. They’re calling for snow tonight. People have been pouring in all afternoon and Curtis and Maria, the owners of the farm have been putting people up in out buildings and on porches, since all the available beds are taken. In weather like this, it’s dangerous to be out.
I am amazed at the incredible adventure I’m on. I’m staying at this rustic farm, cooking on an old burner stove, and doing laundry on a washboard. The hostel has a small hiker store and everything has prices on it. It operates on an honor system. You come in, grab an envelope and write down all the things you buy or use throughout the day, including the price of your room. When you leave the farm, you settle up with them. There is a privy, a shower building with two showers, and a building with a rustic kitchen and table that we can cook and eat in.
The Laundry Facilities
What an amazing life!
Change in plans today. Right before I got to shelter it started raining, so never made it to Standing Bear. Staying at the shelter tonight but only 3.6 miles to the hostel tomorrow. Interesting crowd here tonight. Talking about reality TV shows and longest hikes people have made. Beautiful views today and lots of downhill. Up hill is the most psychologically and physically challenging, but down hills are the most dangerous. It’s easy to slip and injure oneself. I love being out here, even in the rain.
Longest hiking day yet, 13.3 miles to Crosby Shelter. Tomorrow on to Standing Bear Farm Hostel, 10 miles away. Good day of hiking. Came over a ridge today and the view was so beautiful, I was filled with awe and serenity; and I began to weep. I love those surprisingly profound moments on the trail. Expecting rain this weekend, so gonna try and make the hostel before it starts.
Left Gatlinburg this morning and headed out. Got a late start due to the times the shuttle runs, but still put in a strong 11 mile day. The views were beautiful when the mist cleared, and other times I was walking within the clouds. I felt strong and the frequent stopping and eating seemed to be working. My goal this month is to increase my mileage to 10 to 12 mile days. It’s good to be back on the trail.
Spent another day in Gatlinburg because it’s been pouring rain all day. Took Sheila’s advice and went to grocery store for snacks. Loaded up on dried fruit, nuts, and jerky. Hitting the trail again tomorrow morning and heading to Hot Springs, NC. Should be there in about 5 days. I am thankful every day for the generosity and kindness of the people in my life. It is good to love and be loved.
Here in Gatlinburg, TN after summiting Clingman’s Dome today. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail. The views were spectacular all day. Pictures simply cannot do them justice. Today I have officially hiked 200 miles and I’ve entered my 3rd state of Tennessee. I called Sheila W. today and got some nutritional advice. I am literally hungry all the time and have to stop and eat every hour. The only reason I came into Gatlinburg today was to buy snacks. If I don’t snack all day I run out of juice climbing mountains. I got to weigh myself today and have lost 17 lbs so far. That’s a lot considering how much muscle I’ve built as well. My hip belt on my pack is helping hold my pants up. Life is good and I hope it stops raining so I can get out of here tomorrow.
Good hike today and set up to summit Clingman’s Dome tomorrow. Going into Gatlinburg to shower, wash clothes and buy snacks. I now have less than 2000 miles left and will cross the 200 mile mark tomorrow. In the Smokies I’ve been straddling the NC/TN line, so I’ve now entered my third state. There are deer grazing at the campsite tonight. Camped at Double Springs shelter, named because there are two water sources here, one in TN and one in NC.
I didn’t believe it when I was told that I would want to eat all the time and be hungry all the time, but they were right. I literally have to stop and eat something every hour. If I don’t, I bonk and lose energy. Gotta buy more snacks!
At Derrick Knob Shelter after a long day of hiking. Did 10 miles but felt good. The baby grasshoppers are like popcorn popping when you walk by. They start jumping around when you walk by. Very windy tonight, going to be cold. Beautiful views from the top of the mountains today. Sometimes, after a long climb, when you get to the top; it takes your breath away. My chest fills up and I’m awed by the beauty. Today I made myself stop and eat every hour, trying to keep my energy up. It helped, but I feel constantly hungry. Will keep working on it.