4/7 Catpen Gap to Hot Springs, NC (11.7 miles)
My tent held up quite well last night in the rain, but packing up a wet tent in the cold is without a doubt one of the worst parts about hiking on the AT.
Due to the rain, cold, and a long day yesterday Bevo and I got of to a late start (for us) at 8 am. The trail was very slick and my foot slipped right out from under me, so I fell on to my butt for the first time all trip. Sadly, Bevo was not fast enough to capture this on camera. There were a bunch of switchbacks on the trail that made it feel like we were not getting any closer to our destination.
At 12:30 we arrived at our hostel. It is in a very cool old Victorian building (check out more details http://www.sunnybankretreatassociation.org). For $40/night Bevo and I get a private room with two beds. They also offer a 4 course vegetarian dinner for $12.50 and breakfast for $6. Like many of the other places that I have stayed, I feel that the owners are running their business because they love being part of the trail community rather than making money. It has been a lot of fun being a part of this community over the last few weeks, and I am looking forward to many more.
I felt my hiker hunger again. When we went to lunch, I nearly ordered another 1/2 lb. hamburger after devouring my first in less than 5 minutes. Instead, I went with Pecan Pie and ice cream. Both were much better than my usual PB tortilla, beef jerky, and trail mix.
After lunch, Bevo and I showered, did laundry, got the supplies for my new stove, and went to the library to use the computer. It is really great that Hot Springs welcomes thru hikers into their library (and they have a note on the door to prove it). They have a side room with 6 computers, which were predominantly being used by hikers.
Bevo and I tried out the vegetarian dinner at the hostel tonight and it was probably the best $12.50 dinner that you can find. It was four course and had more food than even a group of 10 hungry thru hikers could eat.
After dinner Bevo, myself, and several other people staying at the hostel went out to the nearby bar. They had a great beer selection, but the amount of foam coming out of their taps reminded me of a freshman taping their first tap. Telling some of the stories about the things Bevo and I have done reminds me how lucky I am to have such a good hiking partner.
I will be sending more my hat, extra pair of underwear, extra shirt, and Jetboil stove. The former two I don’t use, and the later I have replaced with the stove system that Bevo uses. It is significantly lighter, and doesn’t sacrifice much on boil time.
4/8 Rest day in Hot Springs
Today Bevo and I took a rest day.
We enjoyed a great $6 breakfast of pancakes, granola, and fruit. I totally understand why they put a 2 day limit on thru hikers here. I feel like I could stay here a long time enjoying myself.
After that Bevo and I built my fancy feast stove. The whole thing (including the hole punch) cost $1.67. Hard to beat that price.
My uncle and cousin came in around 11 from Charlotte. It was really nice of them to make the drive and great to see them. We then grabbed a 12 pack of beers and headed over to the Hot Springs for a nice soak. They have a pretty cool set up where they pump the geothermally heated water into hot tubs. They clean and refill it with hot water (only about 102 degrees) between guests. When they told us our time was up I made sure to enjoy every second while they drained the tub.
After that we got lunch, where I ate far too much food. This included at least a half pound of pulled pork, a side of Mac and cheese bites, a slice of pizza, 2 beers, another persons order of fries, and a milkshake. I was totally stuffed and full from about 3pm until about 7pm at which point I mostly just felt full. I didn’t even eat dinner since I felt so full.
After that I hung out with my uncle and cousin for the rest of the day. I did my resupply mostly at a Dollar General (might be better than the grocery store or outfitter on price and selection) and also at the local outfitter. Chaos hassled me about eating totally natural peanut butter, so I am going to humor him and try it out.