Hot Springs to Roan Mountain
Day 18: Zero day in Hot Springs.
Day 19: 14.3-mile day to Allen Gap.
Day 20: 11.7-mile day to Jerry Cabin Shelter.
Day 21: 21.6-mile day to Low Gap.
Day 22: 20.9-mile day to Erwin via River Road.
Day 23: 12.7-mile day to USFS 230.
Day 24: 22.2-mile day to Ash Gap.
Day 25: 19.2-mile day to Roan Mountain.
Day 26: Zero day at Mountain Harbor Hiker Hostel.
Welcome back to the exciting life of Batman and Robin trail side. To start off where we left off last time, we took a zero day in Hot Springs, N.C., in order to let Sam catch up and fully restock in town. We stayed in an extremely nice Airbnb that night after going out to multiple in-town restaurants. I may have ordered two full separate burger meals; the hiker hunger is really starting to set in.
Moving on to day 19 after a night of aggressive drinking and overeating at both dinner and breakfast, we set off at around 11 a.m. Hungover and struggling, I got my money’s worth out of my trowel and just all around felt like a human piece of garbage. Luckily, however, Sam’s parents picked us up at the gap and we stayed the night in a bed and breakfast. His parents were even nice enough to bring us out to one of the few fancy, unique eateries for dinner that night.
With full stomachs and a good night’s sleep, Sam’s parents dropped us off at the gap with another late start to the day, probably around 12:15. When we got to our destination for the night it was simply tent city; there were people everywhere. I think our lax pace has set us in line with what some call the bubble. The bubble is exactly what it sounds like; it’s just a mass of hikers that all group together on the trail. Anyway, it made for a fun night of socializing and cooking fireside. There was a shelter car there and Bella was so close to catching it when we first got there.
Waking up early the next morning, we were finally able to get in a full day of hiking and put a decent amount of miles on the log. From the start of the day, though, it was a cold one, with brutally high winds pushing us around throughout the day. We stopped at a newly opened hostel along the trail and got some pizza before continuing on. It was supposed to get down to 28 degrees tonight so I was mentally preparing myself to be cold all night. Luckily, however, I made use of the service I had the day before and downloaded a ton of “The Office” episodes, podcasts, and new music. So I was covered for entertainment. While in town I had invested in some Sleepytime tea and recently I’ve really found it to help me get a good night’s sleep. Before, I had struggled to fall asleep, which just made the whole day miserable so I’m glad I found a way to remedy that. To this point Bella is still in great health.
On day 22 Jeremy caught up to Sam and me as we were packing up our things in the morning. We hiked together for the rest of the day and stopped into Erwin together and stayed at a Super 8 motel. Jeremy was kind enough to show us to a new fast food joint neither Sam nor I had ever even heard of before called Pals. Gotta say, it wasn’t half bad. But where I did mess up was following one fast food order with another, from the infamous Taco Bell. It did not end well for the author of this blog. Managed to get a great night’s sleep in a terrible bed with the help of some hearty stouts, though.
After resupplying at a local Walmart and getting a care package that probably doubled my pack weight, we started the long and laborious 12-mile climb out of the valley. As was to be expected on a 75 degree day with full stomachs and tough inclines, it was a rough one to start off. That being said, it turned out to be a pleasant and quite relaxing day of hiking. I even had one of those moments when nothing else matters and you fully embrace the moment and experience at hand. We even encountered a real wedding atop Beauty Spot. We shared a charming little campsite with some new friends, Spirit Walker and M.C. Hammer Finger.
To start off day 23 I was rudely awoken by Bella licking my face off around 7:30, so it was destined to be a good day. It warmed up a decent amount throughout the day but we decided to hunker down in Ash Gap to avoid the incoming weather of 50-plus mph winds and rain for the next few days. It quickly got cold and wet as we set up our tents, so instead of having a family dinner, Sam and I cooked and ate in our tents and talked gossip and smack from four feet away. Both of us agreed that tomorrow was going to be a tried and true struggle but we both needed to suck it up and embrace it.
As predicted, day 24 started off with wind that almost blew our tents away with us in them and almost collapsed both of our tents. Accompanying the massive winds was a light rain that progressed to all types of precipitation from hail and sleet to rain and snow throughout the day. We passed over Roan Mountain with some of the worst weather I think I have ever experienced. The winds were so strong I had to lean against the force, and when it let up, I was caught so off balance I would almost fall. The winds pushed the hail as close as horizontal as possible, making it impossible to stay dry and making each piece of hail feel like nails on any piece of exposed skin. The use of gloves was a hopeless effort to stay warm on a day when Mother Nature just simply didn’t want us on top of the mountain. Mercifully, as soon as we dipped back into the trees, we had an easy descent into town and a warm and welcoming hostel. When we got to the hostel, however, the only thing available was the so called “treehouse” that had no heat or power. We took what we could get. But as we settled into the hostel something was going on with Bella’s tail that began to worry me. There was luckily a pair of nice ladies who drove me and the old gal to a local veterinarian, where they told me Bella had a tail strain. They said it was most likely due to the intense weather forcing her to be overactive, or hurt her tail in some way. It’s a similar ailment as happy tail syndrome. To help Bella heal and dry our gear and our souls, Sam, Bella, and I are going to spend tomorrow taking a zero.
So day 26 isn’t full of a lot of movement as I’m just sitting here typing this blog post. Looking outside I think we made a wise choice. I want to make it the whole way with Bella, so taking the appropriate steps and being smart about her health is paramount. Oh yeah, and we’re out of North Carolina forever. Thanks again for tuning into the life of Batman and Robin. Here’s some more pictures of the goings-on.
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Love your posts! Thank you for taking the time to share your special journey here! Take care of yourself and Ms. Bella!
I am thoroughly enjoying your posts…check in almost every day!! Sounds like you and Bella are fairing well; I hope her tail doesn’t continue to be a bother to her. Enjoy the last little bit of Tennessee and those Smokies!!