Weeks 2-3: NOC to Hot Springs
I can’t figure out how to disperse the photos on my phone, so the ones I was able to upload are at the front of the post. Anyhow. Week three!
Whoa, time really does fly. I’m writing from a very sunny and lovely Hot Springs, NC.
Since I last updated I spent my second zero hanging out with Pox Holiday and his wife. Pox picked me up at the NOC, and after taking a pic of his license plate, I climbed into his pickup truck, and off we went. That day we went to a banana run, drank some brews at Innovation Brewing, and just chatted. Him and his wife are just the nicest people and I loved finally meeting one of the voices behind the Pox and Puss podcast (Puss was under the weather).
From there, I picked back up at the NOC, and hightailed it to catch up with Mooselegs. We hiked together to Fontana, and there I ran into Twister and Hobble at the lodge.
I entered the Smokies exactly a week ago, crossing the Fontana Dam while it was still dark. I’d heard the forecast called for rain (a recurring theme that week) so I wanted to get an early start out of Fontana. The Smokies were beautiful, with thousands of wild flowers, giant ancient trees, and a rolling mist that turned into rain a few times a day. The second day was by far the hardest. Pouring rain and a trail that was basically six inches of mud made for a miserable day and a mass of shivering hypothermic hikers at the leaky Silers Bald Shelter that night. From there things turned around. The next day started mostly clear, I got some views (not Clingman’s Dome, though) and the forest became a gorgeous dark musty pine one I lived hiking in. That night we had a really fun crew at the Cold Spring Shelter, where we fit 21 people into a 12 person shelter.
In spite of the slightly better weather, Hobble, Coyote and I decided to hike the remaining 8 miles out of the park after a 20 mile day the next day. The sunset was gorgeous coming out of Cosby Knob Shelter. We got to Davenport Gap around 10:30pm, walked about a half mile and stealth camped.
The next morning we hiked 3 miles to Standing Bear, snagged the tree house accommodations, and decided we’d hike back to I-40 and hitch a ride to breakfast. Lo and behold, after 10 minutes of thumbing on the side of the on ramp to I-40, a car pulled up. The guy who gave us a ride was a 2008 thruhiker, and he took us to Cracker Barrel in Newport TN after we told him we were on the hunt for eggs and bacon.
We ate at the CB, walked to Walmart, re supplied lavishly, got a whole lot of beer, and walked back to I-40. We’d barely put our thumbs out when a pick up truck with an older couple pulled over. We hopped in the back and rode down a few exits before they dropped us off near a zip line and BBQ food truck. We needed to hitch again, but didn’t have much luck. After awhile we called Standing Bear and asked them to come pick us up. While we waited, we went to the BBQ place and bought sandwiches.
From Standing Bear Hobble and I made it to Hot Springs on the second day (yesterday). I had tented that night, and about half an hour after I had left camp, the thunder started rumbling. I spent a good half hour dodging rain and lightning under rhododendron bushes.
Once I got to town, I decided to stay at Elmer’s, which is this gorgeous boarding house from the 1800s, with $20 for a private room with a queen sized bed. That’s where I’m staying now.
Well, that’s all for now. Life is good, keeping on trucking tomorrow.
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