Just as I laid my head to hammock last night the skies opened up. It rained hard all night with a considerable amount of wind. I was set up perpendicular to the wind so my tarp blocked the gusts well and I stayed dry. Rockman set up parallel which pushed rain and wind all over him. I saw him at 630am packing up in the rain. He said his tarp was way too small and he couldn’t get the proper coverage. His sleeping bag got soaked so he decided to get out of camp early and push 20 miles to hot springs. Yellow beard (got his name from peeing into the wind and getting a face full of his finest) decided to do the same with a soaked tent.
The rain stopped around 7 but the wind picked up. We camped in a beautiful wind tunnel. Breaking wet camp was taxing and uncomfortable.
We decided to hike through to the shelter right before hot springs. Snuggles and I got to the shelter before five. We were three miles out of town, making a push to town very possible. I knew we would at least have to talk about it.
Rambo, Sambo (Raleigh boys!), and Hustle and Flow were already talking about making the push. Could you camp outside of town? Do they sell beer? Is there even the slightest chance I could show up to a closed sign at the restaurant? Hustle and Flow folded fast and got going. Sambo and Rambo weren’t far behind leaving Snugs and me sitting on our hands waiting for Caboose.
We were already planning on staying in town tomorrow night so we really didn’t need to go. The real question is how badly do you want beer, food, and a shower? Historically I’ve folded in these circumstances and run for town beers and fried food.
When Caboose arrived I thought Snugs and I were set on town. After talking again we decided to wait and delay gratification until tomorrow. We made camp for an easy hour hike into town.
Like an Appalachian siren, the town seduced many into zero days making it the most corrupting town I’ve seen thus far.
The usual plan for a town day is to wake up early and run out. I was on board, but not to break character, I sleep in whenever I promise to get up early. Call it a rejection of scheduling, but I woke up at 830 as opposed to the planned 7. Luckily it didn’t really matter and I could pack up sloppily just before Caboose and Snugs were ready. We hiked fast and made it to Hot Springs before ten.
At the trail head before town there was a fantastic interpretive display about invasive species with a boot brush to knock off seeds from invasives. It was designed so people had to stare at the pictures while cleaning their shoes. I think the installation should be at every trailhead in the south east.
The first building in town is the Laughing Heart Lodge that I had the pleasure of enjoying two years ago. Chuck Norris, yes that’s a trail name, runs the hostel with furious hospitality and boldness. Rockman quickly appeared, hung over from his previous night in town and re-calibrating to a weaker alcohol tolerance. He looked exhausted like he had to cry himself to sleep because he missed us so much.
He looked exhausted like he had to cry himself to sleep because he missed us so much.
Everyone quickly shifted into town mode and pulled out phones. Calls across the country ensued all while breakfast got delayed. Eventually I forced the issue and we hit the diner.
I ordered a country fried steak with sawmill gravy, deep fried broccoli, and deep fried balls of creamed corn. There is no comfort like breaded and fried food. Caboose and Snuggles matched with intensity while Rock Kelly got a modest half pound burger since, only two hours before, he had a massive breakfast in the booth behind us. For a 140 pound baby faced man child he can really put the calories away. After a light sixteen cups of coffee, 10,000 calories of fried animals and potatoes, and 4 cobblers with ice cream we hit the streets. Snuggles’ mom made a reservation for all of us since it was almost his birthday, but we hadn’t a clue point where it was. Hot springs is tiny so we walked a few hundred feet to the gear shop and to socialize with the 100 thru hikers in town. The forecast called for a three day storm so tons of wimps were trying to wait it out. The town was nearly booked when we arrived.
There is no comfort like breaded and fried food.
I picked up a package from a dear friend, Melanie Stolp, only to be trapped. She said it wouldn’t weigh much and I wouldn’t have to carry it far. I opened the box to find a Smirnof Ice looking at me in the lips.
The rules of the game are you have to trick someone into opening something and finding a bottle of this slightly alcoholic and excessively sugary beverage. The person then has to chug it ceremoniously on the spot. I’d gotten her numerous times around her house over the previous year (once as early as 930am) so I had it coming.
She successfully iced me. Nicely done Melanie. I promptly followed the rules by dropping to one knee and chugging all 77 grams of sugar. Honestly didn’t taste bad.
Soon enough the room was ready and we had beers to drink. After washing and drying we spent the afternoon enjoying the sun.
It’s great to get together with 25 of your newest friends to do something other then hike, even if I had to wear a stupid shirt that might bring out the violent homophobia in red state locals.
Finally my time had come. Snuggles tossed me a purple shirt with rhinestones and a kitten on it and told me it was my town shirt. My dare was to sport this child’ s small for all of my town time until Damascus. I acquiesced, cut the sleeves off and tried not to smell the 50 cent shirt. Game on.
When the evening came we hit up some BBQ and then the only bar. It was hard to find locals with so many hikers frolicking in the streets. It’s great to get together with 25 of your newest friends to do something other then hike, even if I had to wear a stupid shirt that might bring out the violent homophobia in red state locals.
The hostels were comfortably restful. No bad snorers other than myself. We decided to take a slow morning tweaking our packs to send some weight home. At her request I gave Caboose a shake down and told her to ditch stuff despite her personal attachments. Shake downs must be brutal to be effective. She lost a lot of weight in soap, Deodorant, redundant layers and such.
We resupplied food at the good ‘ol Dollar General. Nothing like an individually wrapped life.
Once we checked out we went back to the diner for a cool 1400 calories each. With full stomachs we resupplied food at the good ‘ol Dollar General. Nothing like an individually wrapped life.
We ended up bouncing around town and staying until after we got a look at a town cook out.
After a final meal (I promise, last one) of pasta salad and pizza we hit the trail. A few of us wanted to make sure we didn’t fall asleep in hot springs. Like an Appalachian siren, the town seduced many into zero days making it the most corrupting town I’ve seen thus far. We camped just a mile out of town on a cliff overlooking the wonderful town. I can’t think of a better place for a trail to pass through on it’s course to Maine.