Hidden Pond Hostel Setting a High Bar
Hidden Pond Hostel in Suches, GA was the first hostel we (Bacitracin, formerly known as “Socks,”and myself) opted to stay at on our through hike thanks to a Facebook search made from home. We called ahead and Rainbow was very kind on the phone and happy to receive some mail drops.
Introductions & Expectations
We were able to stay in touch with Rainbow via text and were greeted at Woody Gap after a couple of very wet days with smiles and a warm vehicle with vibrant rainbow seat covers. Rainbow and Lost Johnny were extremely welcoming and even brought us by the gas station on the way to the hostel to pick up some snacks!
Neither of us had been to a hostel before and didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. After our first section on the trail, all I was hoping for was a hot shower, a warm bed, and access to food. I also really wanted canned peaches. Thankfully I was able to track some down at that gas station.
I arrived at the hostel with a bag of Doritos, Cheerios, and a can of peaches in hand. We were the first guests there that night, so they gave us a tour of the area. Rainbow and Lost Johnny brought to the bunkhouse, which was small but super clean and had comfortable mattresses, pillows, and ample phone charging stations. I was a huge fan of the camping themed bed sheets.
After that, we were shown their resupply area, along with laundry and showers. I found their resupply area to be very well stocked with fair pricing. They even have some gluten free options! The shower house was being worked on during our stay there, but we’re excited to return in the future and see it up and running! There’s a private room in the house (which can now be reserved if you book ahead) that we were able to shower in. There was hot water, several soap options, and it was very clean. I was thrilled to have access to cue-tips, a few different types of body washes and shampoos, and a clean towel after my first few days on my through. A hiker before us had actually left a massive bag of epsom salts for taking baths, so that was an option too. I didn’t take one there, but I totally should have.
Hikers spend most of their time in common spaces like the house at Hidden Pond. Or out back by the pond! I was thrilled to learn that there was a stocked trout pond off of the back porch. There’s also fish food—I spent a good amount of time during my stay watching the trout come up and hit the fish food I had thrown out for them.
While waiting for an open shower, I hung out near the kitchen with Rainbow and learned a little more about the hostel and herself. She and Lost Johnny met on trail during their through hikes and opened the hostel together this year along with the business Appalachian Threadz (definitely worth checking out!!). I found both Rainbow and Lost Johnny to be super personable with lots of great information, stories of their own experiences on trail, and advice.
Although I had a dinner of champions planned (aforementioned Doritos, peaches, cheerios along with about four cups of coffee) I was absolutely thrilled when Rainbow cooked Italian chicken with rice and vegetables for dinner that night. We didn’t expect a home cooked meal and it was such a treat. Since it was just the two of us at first, we were able to eat at the table for a family-style dinner with Rainbow and Lost Johnny, and one hiker that joined us a little later.
During dinner, we got on the topic of home-cooked meals, and Bacitracin and I offered to cook orange chicken the next night for everyone if we were able to go to a grocery store for all of the ingredients. They liked the idea so we made the plan!
Slackpacking to Orange Chicken
Having just started our hike, we were unfamiliar with slack-packing and really hadn’t thought of it. Lost Johnny suggested it since we were staying two nights anyways and he was happy to drop us off at Woody Gap the following morning.
We had planned to hike seventeen miles, but the weather was pretty gnarly (hail, rain, sleet and snow going up Blood Mtn!) and by the time we made it to Neels Gap we were so drenched and cold that we called for a rescue shuttle back.
We planned dinner for five to seven people that night back at the hostel. That number turned into ten to twelve as it got colder and hikers kept calling in to the hostel for bunk space. We were excited to meet new people after seeing few faces since the start, but a little nervous to be cooking for more than we had originally thought. We doubled our planned portions and went to Walmart in Blairsville with Lost Johnny, where we were able to pick up groceries for that night, some of our personal resupply items, and a rotisserie chicken for through-hiker Dob.
Cooking For a Crew
Getting back to a hostel full of hikers was exciting. It was the first time we had been in that environment and the first time I felt such a sense of community on the trail. Everyone was super grateful to be indoors after a shared experience of multiple wet days followed by that cold snap. We headed towards the kitchen to start prepping dinner while hikers shared stories from their first few days on trail and caught up with each other.
I didn’t expect to be able to cook one of my comfort meals in a real kitchen, let alone for so many people! Cooking was a lot of fun and reminded me of home, despite a couple of stressful moments. Hiker brain got to me in Walmart and we were making sauce with fruit punch as a substitute for apple juice (my bad, didn’t read the label!) and something called Liquid Aminos as opposed to soy sauce. This was a very salty and drastic flavor change, but was able to be corrected after some frenzied additions of water, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and positive manifestation.
Overall, the food turned out great, hikers were happy, and came through to eat in a big line. I felt super lucky to be able to share something from home with new friends.
I was super impressed with how clean everything was and how comfortable we were in the space right off the bat. Feeling welcome in a homey environment there really helped us to relax and enjoy our time.
Rainbow and Lost Johnny are friends you haven’t met yet. They really care about the hikers they host and are very accommodating. Having through hiked themselves, they are very understanding of hiker needs and have lots of insight on the trail. We hope to see them again!
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