Day 22 – Stealth camp site about 7 miles from Hot Springs to Rich Mountain camp

Today was a hike sandwich with a town stop in between. I woke pretty early after not sleeping well from about 4 on. It was supposed to rain today, but not until 11 so I had not put up my rain tarp. The sound of anything hitting my hammock cover made me convinced it was raining and I’d have to jump out and get my tarp rigged to avoid having everything get soaked. I got out of my hammock at 6:30 to a blue sky. It was just leaves and needles.

I retrieved my bear bag and ate a cold breakfast of some carnation instant, powdered milk, peanut butter powder and instant coffee with my last two granola biscuits. I loved those just 5 days ago, eating 4-5 a day. This morning in had to choke them down. This is becoming more of a nutritional / logistics game than I’d imagined where I need to sort out what I can carry, what I will eat, what’s available in town and that it has enough calories and macros to walk 15 miles a day on average.

I said goodbye to Keith, my sole camp mate from the night before and headed to turn around 7:30. It was a little over 7 miles of mostly down hill. About two miles out I stopped to use the privy and ran into a new one: there were bees coming out of it. Choices had to be made 😝.

I rolled into Hot Springs a little before 11, dropped my pack and poles at Laughing Heart hostel then made a b-line for Smokey Mountain Diner. After a glass of milk, glass of orange juice, some French toast, eggs and country ham I was ready tonight take on the rest of town.

I headed back to the hostel and paid them $10 for a shower and a load of laundry. I plugged in my battery and garmin to charge, dumped everything in the washer and got in line for a shower. I was able to get the shower before the wash cycle was done, so spent some time on the porch getting the next few days plotted out in FarOut.

While I was finishing up laundry, my friend Josh arrived at the hostel. We’re hiking the next 85 miles or so together and have done lots of sections together already. Josh and I caught up and then I pulled some resupply items from my jeep, which I’d left parked at trailhead parking behind laughing heart.

I packed up my clothes and food and we started our hike with the first stop being…Dollar General to pick up some more resupply items (the pickings were a little slim – clearly I’d come in behind a lot of other hikers. We headed on down the AT ( which is literally the sidewalk in Hot Springs) and stopped at the out fitter for a few more resupply items (and to try to find a replacement buckle for the chest strap on my pack – might have to do without until trail days…hopefully Mountain Laurel Designs is there). We’ll see how I did solving that logistics / nutrition challenge over the next 4 days. We ended our AT sidewalk hike at Big Pillow brewing for some beers and tacos and some additional last minute phone and device charging.

Then we did the hardest thing every AT hiker has to do every 4 days or so: we left town. It’s hard for two reasons: first, your leaving comfort to go into then unknown, but second it’s also the heaviest your pack gets since you have a max food carry. Which was tons of fun over the 9 or so miles with nearly 3,000 feet of climb. The tacos and beer served us well though since we left the brewery at 3:30 and made camp a little after 7. There were two other THs as greasy setup, so we said hello and got camp setup, water filtered, dinner water and bear bags hung. Rain in the forecast tonight, so the tarp is up!






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