4/1/2018 – Day 23

Deer Park Mountain Shelter to Hot Springs, NC – 3.2 miles

Nero day. A short hike into Hot Springs early in the morning. Tented at the Laughing Heart Lodge. The owner, Jeff, told me if I played my p-bone I wouldn’t have to pay to stay, so that’s exactly what I did. Got lunch/drinks with Eskimo, Mean Spaghetti and a few others, then got my resupply for 5/6 days to Erwin, TN. Got an adapter for my water filter for $10 so no problem there anymore. Jeff and his crew made a big Easter Sunday dinner for the hikers at the hostel. Ended up being more food for dinner after 8pm. Didn’t end up going to sleep until 10ish because of food, being asked to play my p-bone, and karaoke. Breakfast tomorrow at the diner and then hiking on!

Today was what I consider my first real nero day. Nero means ‘nearly zero’ meaning you only have a few miles to hike into town and you plan on staying in town for the night. It was a really nice morning and a very pleasant 3 miles into hot springs. As soon as you come out of the mountains, one of the first things you see is The Laughing Heart Lodge – a popular stop on the AT. I find the owner Jeff and tell him I want to tent in the lot outside of the hostel because it would only be $10 instead of the $20 to stay in a bed so he showed me where to set up and said I could pay him later.

I ended up setting up by Eskimo and Mean Spaghetti and got lunch with them and some other hikers. After I ate, I needed to go to the outfitter to get a new water purifier. At the outfitter, the guy who helped me said that I could buy an adapter that would attach to the part of the purifier that I still have to save money and avoid buying a brand new purifier. I had to go back to the hostel and grab what I had so that we could test if it fit it correctly, so I walked back up the hill to Laughing Heart and back down. Thankfully, it worked and that problem was solved.

Around Easter time, Jeff and the other workers at his hostel make a huge meal for thru hikers and anyone else around. They were very generous and years of them doing this meant that they had enough practice to keep the food coming. Somehow, they did not run out of food. Later that night, they brought out what was left for all of us to pick at. After eating, I was sitting around with Jeff and some others when he told me, “If you play your pBone, you don’t have to pay me a penny to stay here.” So I got my pBone and played a few songs for everyone.

Mean Spaghetti and Eskimo went out for drinks that night while I stayed at the hostel to save some money. I didn’t feel like drinking then anyways. Jeff invited me and the other hikers at the hostel to partake in some karaoke after dark. I went just to watch. It was over pretty quickly with 7 people in there and only 2 willing to sing. Kind of an awkward end to the day, but hopefully his karaoke nights aren’t always like that. I ended up staying awake way longer than I wanted to. I had not stayed up to 10pm since getting on the trail. I wasn’t planning on getting an early start the next day, so I had extra time in the morning to sleep in.

My first view of the Laughing Heart Lodge

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