Miles Hiked: 0
Miles Left: 1911.4
Ending Location: Hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge, Hot Springs NC
Armed with a good night’s sleep I of course did absolutely nothing in the morning besides take a shower and chat with the other hikers. Owl and I had decided to take a zero day and our laundry was already done so we pretty much just had to pick up our bounce box from the Post Office, resupply at the outfitters, and visit the hot springs. Owl took care of the Post Office so we then went to the outfitters. They had a terrific resupply stocked full of all the food that hikers eat. It was like if you had grabbed just the useful stuff from a Whole Foods and Safeway and jammed it in a room the size of a corner office. They also had very helpful and knowledgeable staff who were able to give Owl lots of advice on his back issues. He ended up picking up a new sleeping pad and pillow so hopefully that will help.
With two errands down we ended up grabbing lunch at the Sweet River tavern and then joined Diesel, Vegemite, Blaze, and Dundee at the hot springs. That was an experience which was nothing like I expected. Imagine a resort with several falling down wooden shacks in the back. You go into one of them with five other hikers only to find an old jacuzzi that was probably last cleaned in the 70s filled with luke warm water that smelled of sulfur. Now hang out awkwardly in it for an hour. That was pretty much what it was like. On leaving the place we found out that the town had previously been called “Warm Springs”, which goes to show they had some mayor with marketing savvy in the past.
I have to admit, the soak actually did feel good and I headed back to the hostel for a nap. On waking up I found all the hikers getting ready to head down to the community center for a pot luck. Apparently the town holds one every Thursday and hikers are welcome. I was really blown away by the generosity everyone showed and their general outlook. They specifically said they wanted us to talk to the kids in town so they could learn about places outside North Carolina. Things like this are why everyone talks so highly about Hot Springs.
After dinner Owl, the Australians and I headed back to the tavern for a few drinks. We were later joined by Togg and had a very enjoyable and completely unproductive evening. I can see how the AT gets its reputation as a two thousand mile pub crawl.