Life Since Virginia
I realized my last post was all philosophical and I didn’t provide any updates on what we’ve been up to since Damascus. I have good WiFi here, so here is an update about Tennessee and North Carolina so far.
We have been making more use of hostels since we left Damascus. Part of the reason is the more hostels are available. Part of it is that I was dealing with some sort of illness that sapped my energy for about a week. So we stayed at Braemor Castle Hostel, Kincora Hostel, Mountain Harbor Hostel, Hemlock Hollow Inn, Uncle Johnny’s, and Elmer’s. Now we are at the Lodge in Fontana Dam Village.
Kincora is run by Bob People’s, a legendary trail maintainer. All he asks for use of a bunkhouse and kitchen with showers and laundry is a five dollar donation. We had a great time there. Elmer’s Hostel in Hot Springs is in the Sunnybank Inn, built in 1870. We stayed in the room used by Earl Shaffer on the first ever thru-hike in 1948. Ian slept in the bed he used.
Another noteworthy thing is that once we left Virginia, there were no more privies at the shelters. Instead, every shelter had a shovel. So you would take the shovel and wander into the woods until you find what you think is a good spot to poop, and start digging a hole.
Then all of a sudden a little voice in the back of your head says, “Wait a minute…..
If I think this is a good spot…..
how many other people….
Had the same idea? What might I be digging up?
So, instead of a good spot, you start looking for an “inconvenient” spot (far away, uncomfortable, not level, hard to dig). Fortunately it’s a big country and I haven’t dug up any surprises. But the shovel method does give you pause. Also, pooping in a hole in the ground that you had to dig in the pouring rain has to rank down there as one of life’s worst experiences. Needless today, I’m very happy to be back in “privy land” since Hot Springs. Even the Smokies now have privies.
The bear sightings have increased. One day we saw five bears. I thought we’d start seeing less now that we are close to winter, but the opposite seems to be happening.
Max Patch, outside of Hot Springs was amazing. It’s a large “bald” so you’re on top of a mountain in a grassy field with views in every direction.
The Smokies were beautiful, but cold. The day after we summited Clingman’s Dome, it snowed. Yesterday, it was 18 degrees. I the day before Clingman’s we hit Charlie’s Bunion, an interesting rock formation, and the rocks had been warmed by the sun. We sat there for a while soaking up the heat.
It’s supposed to warm up today. We’ve resupplied (gas station convenience store style – lots of Mrs Freshly’s Honey Buns and candy). Now we’re in to the home stretch.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.