Hot Springs NC

Food glorious food. Looks like 70 miles to Erwin TN, next resupply. I hope that I can get there in 6 days because that’s all the food that I think I can carry. It may be possible because the weather should be good and – believe it or not – I actually did two back-to-back 15 mile days in the section from Standing Bear to Hot Springs. Followed by a 3.4 mile nero day. With a shower, laundry, and rest. And a big hot meal at a restaurant with a porch that allowed Boomer. He is currently sleeping and doing that cute foot twitching and whimpering that dreaming dogs do. 

As you can see from my resupply photo, I am grateful that I am not allergic to peanuts. Peanut butter, trail mix, Clif bars, all with peanut butter. 
Warmer weather ahead? I hope so! I think this has been the first time in my life that I spent almost 72 consecutive hours outdoors in below freezing temperatures. The worst was Max Patch. Snow and sleet, about 25 degrees, and 50 mph wind gusts. On a bald without tree cover. I vow to never climb Mt. Everest after that experience. Should I open my pack and dig out more warm clothes vs hurry across? I opted for the latter. At least fellow hiker Bald Eagle stayed with me for that part of the trek. 

But just in case of more brutal cold, especially brutal cold windy nights, I bought the last 5 pairs of “hot hands” chemical warming packs at the outfitter today. Before my trip someone from one of my FB groups suggested down pants. Yay for down pants! They’re awesome! Next winter I am going to sit by the fire in down pants, wrapped in a blanket, drinking hot cocoa, and roast. 

Signs of spring. I saw a fringed polygala today. It’s a beautiful pink flower. I only saw one, so I presume they’re as uncommon in in NC as in NY. Also there is more green, a few leaves, and some flowering trees (redbuds and cherries or crab apples I think.)

Dogs and National Parks. A few people of asked me why I don’t try to get the rules changed to allow dogs on the AT in the Smokies. Well, I’m not up for a fight with long standing federal regulations. Remember, national parks have a different mission than national forests.

I’m grateful that dogs are allowed on most of the AT and am content to respect national park policy. Interestingly I ran into a park ranger while shopping at the Dollar General. He says that every year he returns a few dog collars to owners after the dogs have run loose and bothered bears. Just the collars, because the remains are usually in bad shape. Of course we could encounter bears elsewhere. One nice thing about a mature dog is that Boomer stays pretty close. He’s not perfect but he is pretty good about not chasing animals. Except for foxes- don’t ask me why but the only time he has taken off on me has been to follow a fox trail. But he really wanted to chase the rooster at Standing Bear Farm. 

Nap time! Almost hiker midnight! I’m going to take a nap. 

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