Standing Bear to Hot Springs, NC – Coronavirus Update

Today will have some tough climbs and a more than the usual number of breaks. I leave Standing Bear and almost immediately begin a tough climb. During the ascent  I notice a huge flock of buzzards circling and my dad says it is because I stink.

At this point I have not seen many animals. So far I have seen buzzards, an owl, woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, and my favorite bird, pictured below.

Standing 1

Today’s weather is great and at some point I am down to a single layer of clothing. I stop at Snowbird Peak for lunch and realize I have forgotten my leftover pizza.

Standing 2

I have more than enough snacks and go with M&Ms, jerky, and Skittles. Later, I stop to trim my toenails and head up to Max Patch.

Standing 3

After Max Patch, I head down to Roaring Fork Shelter where I run into The Beatles, Spotter, and MuoN, sign of . I call it a day after 15 miles.

After a good night’s sleep in the rain, I head to the privy, where the morning’s entertainment is an earthworm crawling across the wall.

My pace today is pretty good and I hit 18 miles around 4:45 p.m., and crawl into Hot Springs, North Carolina, and Iron Horse Station Inn, Restaurant and Tavern. Standing Bear to Hot Springs was 33+ miles over two days in filthy clothes.

Iron Horse Station

Iron Horse Station is a beautifully restored 19th century hotel. Karen welcomes me to Iron Horse Station and apologizes because the restaurant and tavern are closed because of the coronavirus, but I can order food for my room. She upgrades my room and takes me there so I can get out of my wet shoes and socks and start first aid on the bottom of my feet.

The state has mandated that only takeout is available from restaurants and bars, so I order a burger and it is a winner, even though I will probably never be able to finish a half-pound burger.

Wednesday I run errands while Gary washes a load of laundry for me. Eventually, I run into Spotter again and we have lunch at The Smoky Mountain Diner (not actually there,  because we are not allowed). Finally, I head back to the hotel to get ready to leave in the morning.

Coronavirus Update

As said before, dine-in options are unavailable. Mineral baths and haircuts are also not allowed. The NOC, Elmer’s Hostel, Nature’s Inn Hostel, REI, and others are closed. Standing Bear Hostel is open, but will isolate you if you are coughing.

Three 12 of 15 rooms are available at Iron Horse Station  and 13 are available my second night. Bluff Mountain Outfitters in Hot Springs is open and busy. Dollar General is open and has been rocked by panic buying. Hikers are pulling off the trail and any Europeans planning on hiking that are not already here will not make it because of travel bans.

Me? I feel fine and will be heading for Erwin, Tennessee, tomorrow and hope to find a shuttle and open hotel.

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Comments 3

  • Julie : Mar 19th

    Sounds like you are in the groove! Making good mileage, making friends, finding rooms, laundry and hot food during the corona limitations. You’ve got this! Looking forward to your future posts.

  • James Aguilar : Mar 19th

    Thank you Julie! People are dropping out because of valid concerns and recommendations from the ATC. All National Parks are still open and I am on my way to Erwin, TN where there are less restrictions than there are here in Hot Springs. I’ll be there in 70 miles.

  • Ron and Barb Colborn : Mar 19th

    We really enjoy your posts and are not surprised that you are handling the challenges of the trail. Keep rolling on for memories that will last a lifetime. What you are accomplishing is only a dream for most of us. You will never be the same after this. Future challenges will be so much easier in the future. We wish you the best.


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