It’s getting Hot in Hot Springs, NC
I successfully finished the Smokies as of last Monday. It felt like a dream. The amazing 360 views, ridge walking, wild flowers, wild life, and clear blue skies each day was a kind of gift I didnt believe I could ever deserve. Every day continued to bring a refreshing new element to the hike; there was no “monotony” to those mountains. The last day in the park started out as only being a planned 12 mile hike to Cosby shelter, but once I got there, it was only a little after lunch time, so I decided to hike to Davenport shelter. At that point, I was only a mile out of the Smokies and I hadn’t pitched my tent in 5 days (in the smokies you have to stay in the packed shelters) so I decided to go a little further. I was feeling great! I put my pack down at the first flat spot I could find and then took my water bottles to go find water. It was an extra mile till I found it, but when I did, it was at the most beautiful river and once I saw it had the loveliest flat bank – I knew I had to go back and get my pack and bring it back to that site (novice mistake on my part…always bring your pack). So after backtracking, finally getting water, then setting up my beautiful site just to myself, I thought I might as well take advantage of this river and clean my clothes and myself…
Everything was perfect. I was getting clean. I was humming to myself. Smiling, because I finally broke a 20 mile day without meaning to. I was feeling wonderful. And then…
I was graced by the most beautiful “mountain unicorn”… The Real Hiking Viking (for those of you who do not know who this guy is, please look him up, especially on Instagram. He is about to successfully complete a southbound thru-hike which he began in the dead of winter…Incredible human and very inspiring.) Anyway, I was startled out of my mind and I’m pretty sure real words didn’t come out of my mouth. Needless to say, I thought I was alone in the woods and he was the last person I was expecting to see at 7 o’clock in the evening at my river 🙂 He stopped and we chatted, he casually had another 8 miles he was going that evening. That was pretty cool and certainly a hike highlight!
The next day, it started with a conversation with this guy named “Columbus”, he biked across the US last year and is already averaging 25s… He was one of those hikers that wanted to talk while you both were going up hill and your dying, but they can’t tell you are dying because they are in front, so you casually say, “hey man, nice talking to you, but I’m going to take a breather, but you can keep going…” but then they stop too and wait for you… That was my entire first day out of the Smokies and it killed me. He was definitely a cool guy, but, my golly, he could not take a hint.
That night I slept on Max Patch. It was so beautiful. This mountain top was cleared at one time for cattle grazing and now it’s maintained for visitors. I loved being able to see the sun set and rise at my site. The view reminded me of being back home in Virginia. When I was walking down back into the woods in the morning with the sun still rising, I started to tear up because for the first time I felt a little home sick.
I am in Hot Springs now and all is right in the world! I am taking a “nero” and the outdoors store had a natural food and medicine section which had two items I had run out of: Magnesium Citrate and Arnicare!!! (I won’t get into this now, but look this stuff up if you want your body to hike efficiently!) I am also staying at the Sunnybank Inn! This is an old historic home built in 1875 and is where the first AT thru-hiker, Earl Shaffer, stayed in 1948! The staff is made up of old AT thru-hikers and they serve you organic, vegetarian food, family style. I actually had the privilege of sitting on the front porch for some time with the home owner, Elmer, and he is such a sweet and interesting man who thru-hiked in 1976!
Side note, the mountain I had plans to hike tomorrow is engulfed in flames. I will be hanging tight in this town for a little longer than planned. I am hoping and praying that my fellow hikers are off the mountain and staying safe.
Still feeling so thankful to be out here, letting my body rest, with some wonderful company, live music, dancing, and BEER.
(I will post photos once my internet is stronger! You can check out my Instagram for some: isabelleeastham)
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