Hot Springs

North Carolina

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Wednesday, April 1

Arrived today after two solid days of 17 and 20 miles.

Overlooking Hot Springs (4/1)

Staying overnight at a hostel with six rooms and a kitchen. Chris has taken a couple of days off to recover from a bug, and plans to rejoin Karl tomorrow. Andy has decided not to continue for the long haul but will join for several more days during the coming week.

Ran out of food in the middle of the day and was feeling weak by arrival time in Hot Springs. Lost 10 pounds so far along the way. Legs are feeling great; feet are feeling not so great, but no real problems with blisters.

"Hiking Boy," by Kristen
(one of a continuing series of bird characters by Karl's sister)

Chris's parents fill in more details by e-mail:

  • Completed the trek through the Great Smokies on Monday the 30th, reaching Mountain Mama's Grocery Store, where they spent the night (near Waterville NC and Hartford TN).
  • In the Smokies, the rangers enforce a rule that hikers must sleep in shelters rather than in tents because of the bears that sometimes wander by during the night. (If the shelter is full, hikers must still keep all food in the shelter and pitch tents right outside.)
  • Weather has been excellent recently, with clear days and warmer nights.
  • Progress has picked up, with a couple of 15-mile days recently (in addition to the 17- and 20-milers noted above).
  • Dave (who first joined during his spring break) is rejoining the group for a few days.

Also, April (a friend from Grand Rapids) wrote to say that she and Ryan (another GR friend) had just returned from hiking with the group for several days last week. She sent some pictures, which are now on the Fontana Dam page.

Some highlights from her letter:

  • The weather was lovely, though the melting snow made the steep trail into a muddy stream and led to several acrobatic (and not so acrobatic) slides and falls.
  • Karl has turned into a bottomless eating machine, occasionally even scrounging food abandoned by other hikers who leave the trail earlier than expected and want to shed their extra pack weight.
  • People on the trail form an interesting, transient community, looking after each other, sharing stories (and sometimes food) and keeping each other company.

Here are some pictures and notes from the past few days, sent by Karl.

  • "Lots of beautiful scenes. When I'm not hiking I'm: (1) just spacing out; (2) eating; (3) smoking my pipe or playing my pipe (ocarina); (4) planning dinner. Played some cards with some other hikers from time to time."

Karl with pipe and ocarina (small wooden musical instrument) (about 3/26)

Two hills cresting the surface of the waves (3/27)

  • "Someone's stove almost blew up in a shelter the other day. Eventually (after we all watched it burn for a while) I put it out with a wet towel and used my work gloves to carry it to the fire pit. Fun."
  • "Lots of hikers from NH, and probably 1/3 to 1/2 from New England. Almost all from the East."

Polaroid taken by two friendly folks at Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Message from Karl: "Hope you found this web page OK. I made it to the shelter before dark that day...barely. Why didn't you tell me my bandana burn-line looked so silly?" (about 3/28)

At Mountain Mama's (3/30)

  • "Coming into town is confusing. I have a mental list of things to do but wander uncertainly and inefficiently."
  • "Most-discussed hiker topics: (1) equipment, (2) pain, (3) food, (4) weather."

View from Max Patch, a high-elevation field, of a brewing storm (3/31)

Brewing storm, part 2 (3/31)

Storm, part 3 (3/31)

  • "This whole thing continues to be a wonderful adventure."



Wednesday, April 8

Chris's parents report by e-mail:

  • Heard from Chris yesterday as they were passing by Erwin TN -- 34 days and 336 miles from their March 5 beginning at Springer Mountain GA.
  • They had just been swimming in the Nolichucky River and were ready to hike on. The weather has been "splendid and hot, rain here and there, possibly tonight." The river swim was great -- water had warmed up to summer temperatures and the day was quite warm.
  • They're pressing on to Roan Mountain TN and will probably arrive the 12th or 13th.
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