We woke up at the hostel to a forecast of 100% thunderstorms starting at 10:00. I checked out the radar and a large yellow band appeared to be headed our direction. We milled around the hostel until 10 to see what happened, and a light rain started. We then decided to wait around some more to see what the storm was going to do. At 11 I checked the radar again to find a non existent storm and 0% chance until 3. We decided to make a run for it in the small window that we had to the next shelter which was about 7 miles away. It was all straight uphill of course, and with the humid air I don't think I have ever sweat so much in my life. I made it to camp around 3:30, beating out the thunderstorm that never came. Finally saw some sort of wildlife, a huge black rat snake and about 15 chipmunks running across the trail.
What a day, what a day. Ended up doing 18.7 miles today to make it an easy 7 into Hot Springs. We left camp around 8 in the morning and headed up some pretty tough climbs. The highlight of the day was Max Patch which was clear cut by cattle back in the day so it is now a bald. We had an absolutely beautiful day for it, incredible 360° views. Plus to top it off, there was trail magic on top. Nothing like a few PBRs on top of a mountain. After Max Patch it was all downhill for about 7 miles. We covered it in about two hours. We then climbed two tough mountains to reach a campsite on some old forest service roads. Long day, but my knees felt surprisingly not so bad.
Not much to say about the hike. It was pretty cool to look down on the town from the trail. I basically ran down the mountain due to the amount of food waiting for me at the bottom. The Appalachian Trail goes directly down the main street of Hot Springs. We made it into town around 11 and had an amazing breakfasts skillet at the Smoky Mountain Diner. After breakfast we milled around town and ran into a lot of old hiker faces that we havnt seen in awhile. Hot Springs is a pretty cool town with one road. It's got that quaint old town feel. Definitely stop by if you are ever in the middle of nowhere North Carolina. We ended up staying the night at the Hot Springs campground cabins. I wouldn't recommend them though, the showers were infested with bugs. At night we bar hopped around the local bars. A very hiker friendly town.
Ended up taking another zero in Hot Springs. This town is just way too cool, and I had to get the full experience. Everyone we have run into has just been amazing. Definitely loving my first trail town.
I've had a few questions about my gear, what works and what doesn't. So far, I have only sent home a pair of gortex socks that I have never used. Everything else has been working out pretty well. Everyone that I have run into with the Brooks Cascadia 10s have had tears around the base of the toes, including my own. I am going to try to take these all the way to Damascus and switch to the 8s or 9s. Every other piece of my gear has held up pretty well so far.