Day 32: Sweaty Hiker Soup and Eclipses

Late Night Arrivals

Last night was the night I felt most unsafe while on trail. It wasn’t due to the people I was with, but the people I could hear in the distance. At the Deer Park Mountain Shelter sign, there was a nice area for tent camping and another water source nearby. It was there that I was hearing people. They showed up after dark and there was a lot of yelling involved. Not angry, but you knew they were drinking. It could have been thru-hikers, but I didn’t think they were. That is, unless they came from town drunk and were looking for a free place to stay. Whatever was happening, it was loud and lasted for hours. I always wear my earbuds, but last night was the first time I’ve gone without them. I wanted to make sure they didn’t come into camp with me unaware.

Needless to say, I did not sleep well. I was up by 6:00 and couldn’t fall back asleep. I went to the privy and ended up reading. I started packing at around 7:00 and noticed everyone doing the same. I ate a muffin I took from the hotel in Gatlinburg and that served as breakfast. We waited around as DunkAroo was last to finish packing and then we headed out.

Sunrise at the shelter.

The Hike to Hot Springs

It started as an uphill climb before going down. It was nice and easy. My knees were killing me though. And my feet. Yesterday really took a toll. As the trail started trending downwards, it began to rain. It wasn’t light, but it wasn’t heavy either. I was wearing my puffy and did not change into my rain gear. I didn’t care. I was doing laundry later anyways.

As I got into town, I noticed that the Laughing Heart Hostel was right on the trail. I stopped there with Sweeper to wait for the others. I was looking at an inn in town, but didn’t have cell service. The guy working at the hostel allowed me to connect to their wifi to call around and I knew, at that moment, that I’d be staying there. The others arrived and we paid for a bunk. I asked if everyone was interested in going to the hot springs. Unfortunately, it’s highly commercialized and the water is pumped into hottubs. It’s a must do while in town though. Everyone said yes and I booked the appointment for 2:00. Plenty of time to get stuff done.

Town Chores

The others were quick to take a shower, but I wanted to get the hiker chores out of the way. I cleaned my dishes, backwashed my filter, and went into town to get the resupply done. I also got stickers! Duh. Resupply was only $35. And it was done at a Dollar General. I really thought Hot Springs, North Carolina had more than it does. It worked out though.

The Hot Springs and Solar Eclipse

I went back to the hostel and it was almost time to head back out for the hot spring experience. I was there for twenty minutes before going back into town – this time with four others. We grabbed snacks and drinks and made it just in time. I had a moment where I realized how odd it was that I was going to share a hot tub with four guys I barely knew. The moment passed and I stripped and climbed in. The others followed.

We all ate and drank. The conversation shifted between the trail, politics, sports, and fishing. I was just enjoying the water despite seeing a ton of dead skin cells floating on the surface. Yeah…both DunkAroo and I didn’t shower before climbing in. It was a soup bowl of hiker trash juice. Gross, I know. At least they drain the water after every use.

When it was time to get out, it aligned with the solar eclipse passing through the area. It was cloudy, but it did feel like 7:30pm. It was hard trying to convince my body it wasn’t time to go to bed.

Unemployment Frustrations

We headed back to the hostel and while they went back out to do a resupply, I took a shower and did laundry. With some down time, I tried, once again, to call Montana Unemployment. I finally made it on the call list this time. I was given the option for them to call me back, so I did that.

I waited around and eventually went to the ‘famous’ diner in town. It was the only place open. Both Fine Young Buck and Blaze came with. As soon as I finished ordering two plates of food, Montana Unemployment called. “Good timing,” said Fine Young Buck. I took the call and did not have a fun time. They have been running circles around me saying this and that. I ended the call more frustrated than ever. It has been over six months since I’ve applied. I stormed back into the diner and announced to Fine Young Buck and Blaze, “It’s like banging my head against a wall!” before heading to the bathroom.

Ending of the Day

Dinner came soon after and I knew I ordered too much. Some was going to be breakfast. Dinner was quiet as we ate. I was trying not to fall asleep. Blaze ended up paying for both of us. It was sweet of him. The perks of hiking with dads. They are used to paying for everyone – even if it does feel weird for me.

The official Appalachian Trail path while in the town of Hot Springs.

I got back to the hostel to see that Sweeper pulled out my laundry and set it on the bed. I quickly grabbed my new (to me) hiking outfit and took it outside. Earlier in the morning, I found a half used bottle of Permethrin and snatched it up. Mine. I sprayed the outfit down. I’m not messing with ticks.

I came back inside and chilled. I had to wait two hours before grabbing my clothes. I read while I waited. After two hours, I grabbed my clothes and fell asleep.

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Comments 4

  • DEB : Apr 20th

    I love your stickers! Especially the trail legs one! LOL. Loving tagging along with you. Stay safe & hydrated out there!

    • Morgan Schmidt : Apr 23rd

      Thank you! I thought the trail legs one was hilarious so I had to get it. Especially since I’m sporting my own braces.

    • Leah Love : Apr 23rd

      I was about to comment about the stickers and am glad to see I’m not alone! My favorite sticker haul of yours, so far. The Walking Distance one speaks to my soul.
      Thanks for sharing, and happy trails!

  • Morgan Schmidt : Apr 23rd

    The stickers fill my heart with happiness. The tramily now keeps an eye out for them and if they see free ones, they grab them. I love it!


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