Week 4: Smell Ya Later Smokies, Hot Springs NC, Still Chugging Along
Four weeks. One month. As I sat in my tent crying to myself that first night, unsure of this whole endeavor and sad that no one personally invited themself to my tent, I told myself that no matter how terrible this experience might be I had to last at least one month. Well a month has come and almost gone (I still have a couple of hours left) and I’m still here. The trail certainly has up’s and down’s but I can honestly say I never have had a moment where I’m like, “Yep, I’m ready to go home.” I have looked forward to town though. I’m not ready to spend my life in the woods yet…
Today finds me in Hot Springs, NC after conquering the Smokies. After leaving Gatlinburg the Smokies transformed from winter to spring. Fortunate to miss the major brunt of the cold, we returned to the mountains to face sheets of ice. Those who had carried crampons from Springer were probably pleasantly surprised to find a use for them. I do enjoy ice skating. However, I realized I enjoy it less when combined with hiking.
In a moment of later-found-hilarity, I watched Commando and PackRat struggle down a slick knee-high step. In my genius, I thought rather than struggling down it, I would sit down and then stand back up. Zero chance of falling and dying. (I conveniently forgot I had a 30+ pound pack on my back). Long story short, I fell on my butt. Then trying to stand up I fell again on my butt. Unable to gain traction and weighed down by my pack, I was like a beetle on its back. The guys were useless at this point as I cried, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Although not targeted for 25 year old hikers, I could’ve used Life Alert at that moment. When finally they stopped laughing enough, Commando tried to help me up. I just slid and more laughing ensued. Obviously I was able to get up since I’m writing this from Hot Springs and not a random mountain in the Smokies… So no worries about that. I did manage to soak the butt of pants though.
On my last day, in a final F-you, the Smokies left us scurrying towards Davenport Gap in the rain. Luckily, this was the first opportunity to test out my rain gear. If you’re thinking about rain pants, stop. Go buy a rain skirt (or a kilt if you want to be that way). Not only do you get to feel like a pretty, pretty princess but your legs end up less wet/sweaty than had you gone the pant route. Unluckily for me, in my haste I ran straight into a tree. Those trees come running right at ya. But later that night found me dry, semi-clean, and gorging on Fudge Rounds at Standing Bear.
Zero in Franklin
Taking a zero consists of walking, lounging around town, eating, and more lounging, and maybe watching other hikers do the same.
Hot Springs is a small town catered towards hikers. There’s a tavern with 50+ beers, an outfitters, laundromat, library, other food places, a Dollar General, a couple of hostels/motels, plus several other businesses. The trail goes straight through the town.
I’m spending the night at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn which is clean and friendly but reminds me of a cool but older great-uncle’s house that likes antiques. The bed is comfortable. The sheets are probably cleaner than me. And they make a very great smelling breakfast, that I stupidily passed on. It’s a rather rad place.
Another positive of hitting Hot Springs (among food, cleanliness, real beds, Coke, and multitudes of lounging) was the care package from the mother. Packages on the trail are like mini-Christmases. They’re typically full of items that are challenging to find on the trail.
In particular, this package contained new shoes. By the NOC I had managed to walk holes in my Cascadia 10s. After filing a defective product report, (I mean I had only hiked 150 miles in them) Brooks replaced them with Cascadia 11s. (Thanks Brooks!) Hopefully, these last longer than 150 miles before developing giant holes. Either way, they’re snazzy looking!
Interested in Supporting My Hike?
People at home have asked how they can support me in my hike, (besides positive notes on here and Facebook) and I’d like to provide two options: care packages and Venmo.
Option Number One: Care Packages
If I haven’t mentioned before (which I have several paragraphs above) I love care packages! Seriously it’s like mini Christmas of things that are challenging to find on the trail. Keep in mind resupplies sometimes occur at places similar to gas stations. If you’d like to mail a package, I’d love to receive one. Things thru hikers (aka me) love in care packages:
- Annie’s Mac & Cheese (any flavor)
- Fig Bars by Nature’s Bakery
- G2 packets
- Fruit flavored Larabars
- Chocolate Coconut or Apricot or Berry Pomegranate Cliff Bars
- Dried fruit
- Moon Pies
- Non-chipotle/hot/spicy jerky
- Non-nut-including baked goods
- Dark chocolate
- Random things that can be cooked with boiling water
- Random foods from Big Lots (Big Lots is my jam! My biggest regret so far on the trail is not resupplying at Big Lots in Franklin)
- Random organic foody things
- Random food you personally would like to eat on the trail
- Personal note/drawing
If you’d like to mail a package, shoot me a message on here or email me at [email protected] and I’ll provide you a mailing address.
Option Number Two: Venmo
Venmo me: https://venmo.com/Molly-Bybee
For the oldies (cough cough Mom), Venmo is a mobile app similar to PayPal, (it’s actually owned by PayPal) that allows one to transfer funds. With most debit cards and all checking accounts, Venmo is free. Using credit cards incurs a 3% charge. Donations (and you can specify) can range from $1 to further my Coca-Cola addiction (it truly will become how many Cokes will it take to get me to Katahdin) to $4.50 for a fancy draft beer to $20 for a hostel stay or a massive dinner (the hiker hunger is real). I promise the money will go towards whatever it’s designated towards. I’m trustworthy… unless this Coke addiction becomes a real thing. This is also a nice way to do trail magic from home… Say you’d like to buy a package of Tide pods or a couple of pizzas for hungry hikers.
However, first of all I’d like to say all support is appreciated, especially all the positive vibes I have received from here and the AT community. However, as I said I have been receiving questions on how one can support my (mis)adventures on the AT. These are just some ways. In response, I’ll document the moment or my reaction to the package and either send a personal message and/or a postcard. (I apologize Andrea I did a poor job with your package!) I send postcards from each location I travel to. It’s something I’ve been doing since high school.
As a side note, I’m sticking with Training Wheelz? (reminds me of Hot Wheelz). I kept hoping something better would come along, and it hasn’t. However it’s a memorable name, and the story of how I got just keeps getting funnier the more I tell it, albeit it continues to get taller with each telling as well.
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.