In and out of Hot Springs

Day 42: (May 25th)

That morning, I woke up feeling great. All the pain from the long day was gone, and I was so ready to get into town. I decided not to eat breakfast so that I could eat an actual breakfast in Hit Springs. It was only 3 miles away, and I couldn’t have packed up any faster than I did.
The hike down into Hot Springs was so quick, and I was in town by 9 o’ clock. The first thing I did in town was go to the diner. Luckily, I was able to convince Harambe (who had gotten to Hot Springs the night before) to come to breakfast with me. I chugged about 3 Dr. Peppers and scarfed down some delicious biscuits and gravy.
After breakfast, we went over to the post office where I found a package from some of my awesome coworkers. I sent a couple things home from trail days, and then we headed back up to the Laughing Heart hostel to wait for the rest of our group. We hung around there for quite some time and then realized that our trail family was much further behind than we thought.
The tavern opened up, so Fancy, Harambe, and I headed over and grabbed some beers and burgers. We were just talking about how far back our group probably was when we saw Itchy walking down the street. We couldn’t have been more surprised to see him. We joined us for beers, and then shortly after, KitKat came rolling into town. We all decided to stay at the Alpine Court hotel and just split a room. I didn’t want to take a zero the next day, so I got all of my resupplying and laundry done while everyone else was resting.
We ate some dinner, explored the outfitters and then just hung around outside of our hotel room. There we met Late Start and shared a couple of beers and some pizza with him. Finally, we all climbed into our nice beds and passed out.

Day 43: (May 26th)

Our beds were so hard to get out of that morning, and check out time was quickly approaching. Harambe and I decided that we were hiking out that day, but the rest of our group decided to take a zero and stay another night. We knew that we probably wouldn’t be seeing them anytime soon. It took quite some time to say all the goodbyes and convince ourselves to leave.
Finally, around 1:30, Harambe rolled out and planned to make it to the first shelter outside of Hot Springs. About an hour later, I reluctantly followed. The hike out of Hot Springs was less miserable than I thought it would be. The climb wasn’t as terrible as I had built it up in my head to be, and it was filled with great views. I hiked passed a beautiful pond and hung around there for a while.
Shortly after, I reached the Rich Mountain f fire tower. I hiked up the blue blaze to see the tower, but when I got there, it was bored off. I climbed to the top of the stairs, and there wasn’t enough of a clearing to see anything. I wouldn’t recommend taking the side trail unless the tower is actually open.
I hiked just a short bit more and reached the Spring Mountain shelter. One of the first things I did was read the log book to find out if any of my trail family was close ahead. I saw that there was an entry that said that a dead tree fell on Dash, and she had to be taken off the mountain in a stretcher. I immediately texted her to find what had happened. Apparently, she was off trail with stitches and severe pain in her back. It was terrible to find out that she was off trail. Luckily, she’s okay, but it’s still saddening to know that such a terrible thing had happened. I went to bed hoping that no horrible accident like that would happen to anyone else.

Day 44: (May 27th)

Harambe and I woke up pretty early that morning ready to knock out some serious miles. We wanted to get to Jerrys Cabin Shelter which was about 15 miles ahead. If we could make it there, we would be able to hit 300 miles.
We hurried out of camp ready for a long day full of climbs. A southbound group tipped us off about a store that was right off trail where we could get sodas and possibly beer. Unfortunately, when we reached the store, we couldn’t find anyone in sight, and the doors were locked. We kept on hiking and saw another group of hikers who told us that we should check out the Hemlock Hollow Inn if we wanted real food or sodas. It was only a couple of miles away at that point, and we decided that it would be worth checking out.
We got to the road where the hostel was and hiked the long .7 miles down the road. We got to the hostel and noticed that an event was happening. It turned out to be the set up for a wedding reception. We were walking around looking like homeless people compared to all of the people wearing nice dresses and suits. We quickly found the owner, and got to buy some pizzas and sodas. Harambe and I each ate an entire freezer pizza. We were not looking forward to hiking the .7 miles back to the trailhead. Luckily, the owner said that her son would give us a ride back to the trailhead.
We hopped in the bed of this truck and were back to the trail in no time. We got back on trail and quickly realized that eating so much pizza and drinking so much soda was a big mistake. We stopped shortly into the trail and digested on the side of the trail for about an hour. It was getting late into the day, so we headed out to the next shelter. We arrived at Little Laurel Shelter around 4 and made the decision to press on.
We got to the Big Firescald Knob and decided to do the rock scramble instead of the bad weather bypass. We finally got to the top and managed not to hurt ourselves on the rocks. It was beautiful on top of the mountain, and you could see for miles.
However, it was getting late, so we headed down the mountain to Jerry’s Cabin Shelter. It was dark by the time we hit 300 miles, but we still got our celebratory pictures. The shelter was just a quick jaunt down the trail, and we arrived by 8:30. We were so tired, and we crashed just a couple minutes after laying down.

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