Hot Springs, NC to Spring Mountain Shelter – 11 miles
I planned on sleeping in this morning but ended up waking up before 6:30. By the time my tent was packed up, only one other person tenting was awake. Went to the diner in town and sat down with Pilgrim. Ate some eggs, bacon, and 1 giant pancake. I forgot to get toilet paper yesterday so I went to the outfitters and had to wait 45 minutes for it to open. Finally started hiking around 9:20. Only did 11 miles and because I was up so early, I was one of the first ones to the shelter. On the way, there was a lookout tower with the bottom half of the stairs missing. I was able to climb up the beams easily and see a pretty good view. The adapter I bought for my water purifier ended up not fitting my platypus bag, so Two Clicks let me use his. I’m going to need to get my Sawyer squeeze from dad’s somehow. Hopefully I can get mom to get it and bring it to me when we meet up in Erwin.
I don’t know why I thought I could sleep it. It rarely happens when I’m off the trail so as soon as I was awake, I was ready to pack up and get going. Thankfully the diner opened up at 6am so I was able to get a good breakfast before heading out of Hot Springs. There was one other thru hiker there so I sat down with him as we ate our breakfast. His trail name was Pilgrim and he said that he was known as ‘the good Pilgrim.’ Some years ago another hiker named Pilgrim made a bad name for himself by being rude to other hikers and taking advantage of trail angels. The thru hiking community is a great one, but unfortunately there are some who give all of us a bad rep.
After breakfast, I realized that I did not have any toilet paper left so I went back to the outfitters around 8 to find out that they did not open until 9. I wasn’t trying to airdry or wipe with leaves/moss on the trail so I waited for them to open to get some. While waiting, I got to talking with another hiker who had been through a lot in his life and had a lot of stories to tell. I wish I had written more about our conversation at the time, because I can’t remember anything right now. I’ll do better for my next thru hike.
Going northbound out of Hot Springs, you immediately start with a steep uphill. It wasn’t anymore than a mile but with a full resupply in my pack and a very hot day, it was a hard and slow climb. About 8 miles from Hot Springs, you will come across a sign that will point you towards the Rich Mountain Lookout Tower a few tenths off the AT. On this sign someone had written, “As of Oct. 2017: Tower is worth the short hike but half the stairs are gone. If you can hike the entirety of this trail, you’re likely fit enough to climb the support to the ladder. Be careful <3.” That was more than enough for me to pay this tower a visit. I climbed up the beams easily to a cool 360 view of the mountains around me.
Back on the trail, I run into another hiker named Life Alert who I hiked with for a short while trading stories about our time on the trail so far. After that encounter I never saw her on the trail again (very normal thing to happen on the AT), but I found her on social media after I finished the trail. When she finished, she ended up starting a podcast – Podcast Here – and I was even one of her guests on her podcast. She has hikers of all types on her podcast and it is structured more like a conversation versus an interview. Go give it a listen! You can find more info about her and her podcast on her Instagram pages @trailnamehere and @podcasthere.
I ended my day early 11 miles in to ensure a shelter spot and because I was already pretty tired. At the campsite, I realized that the adapter that I bought for my filter did not fit the platypus bag that I used to hold the dirty water. The adaptor was meant for a sawyer squeeze and just barely did not work for what I had. Thankfully there were more than enough people there who would let me borrow their. In a few days, my mom would meet me in Erwin, TN. I had a mini sawyer squeeze that I left at home so I would just have to make due until Erwin when she could bring it to me.
At the shelter, a hiker called River Guide had a YouTube channel and was interviewing all the hikers that came through this campsite. When he interviewed me, I played my pBone so I am in one of his videos. Unfortunately, he spells his name River Guide in a very specific way that I can rarely remember so finding the video was not easy for me to do. Each time I do find it, I immediately forget how I got there and repeat the cycle. Oh well. I ate a lot of my food once at the shelter. A lot because I got there so early and a lot more to take some weight out of my pack. The full stomach helped me sleep really well that night.