Hello from Hot Springs, NC, at Mile 1909.2 on Day 125, where we took a nero (near-zero) to shower & resupply! We are staying at a super-cool hostel; an old Victorian house from the 1800s called Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn. Hot Springs itself is a neat little town, but we did not indulge in the hot springs!
When last I blogged, we were taking a zero to avoid a raging blizzard on Roan Mountain. We still had to endure remnants of the blizzard, but the zero was awesome and we enjoyed another great breakfast at Mountain Harbour on Monday morning before we hiked out.
We’ve had a very eventful week weaving over 100 miles in and out of TN & NC. There were lots of ups & downs, and I’m not just referring to the mountains. Let’s start with the low points.
TN & NC offer plentiful 360-degree views. I think this is one of the reasons I tripped and fell over this root, which was also covered by leaves.
Geez, didn’t I just heal from the Asian Giant Hornet? But no fear! We have been carrying liquid stitches since Maine!! Okay, just kidding. But Deal did take very good care of me. He made sure I did not have a concussion or a broken nose. Still questionable.
The mountains in TN/NC are large. Very large. They require a lot of climbing. We are tired. We hurt. Didn’t we already do this in Maine & NH?
We resupplied mid-week in Erwin, TN. We were hoping for a real meal as well, since we were getting there around second breakfast time, but we had to choose between getting groceries or going to a restaurant because we opted to use a shuttle instead of hitching. At the time, getting groceries seemed more important. But later that day, we regretted that!
The climb out of Erwin to our shelter was ridiculously long and steep at times. The book told us it was 16 miles with a 3500-foot elevation change. That didn’t seem too daunting. We almost died. No, seriously. We hadn’t felt that tired since Maine & NH!
We have been hiking with a guy named Loop on and off these past few weeks. He’s finishing up sections of his thru hike. He has just 100 miles left and so now he is ahead of us. It was nice to have a 4th Musketeer around for a change! Good luck Loop!
I’ve mentioned that trail magic has not been so abundant. We did get some granola bars from some day hikers and also had a guy offer us Shittake mushrooms at a road crossing, but, well … Anyways, among the million things NOBOs told us about (e.g., the rocks of PA, Ming’s Chinese Buffet in Waynesboro), they told us about a couple who cooks for thru hikers at the Allen Gap road crossing in NC/TN. We tried not to get our hopes up, but we did. And guess what? There was no couple at Allen Gap offering to cook for us. Boo.
We’ve seen a lot of dead people on the trail. Okay, not dead bodies, but random graves! At least 5 or 6!
Variable levels of trail maintenance.
Deal’s bday! He loved his 35+ letters and has been reading them over and over again. He also had a very good hiking day on his bday! We had great views on Big Bald Mtn and there were some volunteers up there doing research on migrating birds. So we got to watch, learn and release some birds.
The 360-degree views almost everyday! We have crossed a number of open, grassy balds. Apparently, the origins of these treeless balds are a mystery (UFOs????), but they sure are beautiful!
The weather! Besides the cold snap we got, we have had 6 days of pure blue skies. Chilly mornings, but great weather the rest of the day! Dear God, if you can make this continue for the next 16 days …
Deal had a very interesting bear sighting. Typically, I fetch the water when we get to camp (sounds so pioneer-like!), but he went one evening and ran into a bear at the spring! This was after he made the comment that he was surprised they had bear cables at the shelter because we were so high up where they was little vegetation and there were probably no bear!
We encountered some mating snakes on the trail! How interesting it was to watch! Sorry, no pictures, but we did leave a dollar.
Privies at North Carolina shelters! I’m excited because unlike Deal, I do NOT like digging holes. And TN has something against privies.
Anybody else think Fire Marshall is starting to look like Wolverine from X-Men?
Apple picking along the trail! We did this in VA too. Love it!!
So. Ups and downs. Such is trail life. We are just tired. And entitled to complain after 1900 miles with 270 miles left to go!
And just to clarify for everyone. We are completing the entire trail on Oct. 24. I know my original “schedule” had us finishing sometime in December, but we are WAY ahead of “schedule.”
Deal’s sister’s wedding is Oct. 28 (which also happens to be our 5-year anniversary). So in true Deal & Steadee fashion, we are finishing the trail on Monday the 24th, hopping on an overnight train that night to Danville, VA, (and hopefully sleeping), packing up our vehicle on Tuesday the 25th, driving to Louisville, then driving to Chicago on Wednesday! We will spend Thursday getting groomed & getting my dress to fit! Wedding is on Friday!
Then we will collapse for at least 2 weeks.
Thank you again everyone for your comments & support! We couldn’t do this without y’all!
Location:Andrews Ave S,Hot Springs,United States
Yay to being ahead of schedule.
Boo to falling.
Great job you guys.
Great to hear your voice the other day.
Keep it up…you guys are freaking awesome!! Miss you guys. Keep me posted on when you get back so I can plan your welcome home party:)
SO impressed! It's been so cool to read all of you postings! Sorry to see your injury, Patrice! Heal well! See you in Chicago! We'll bring cover-up! Beth
Way to go, guys!! Sorry about the fall, PR! Can't wait to see you guys (and give you lots of food) in a few weeks!!!
My comment didn't post, but I"ll just email you soon. 🙂 Almost there!
You guys are amazing! Keep it up and come rest in Colorado! I'll collect wood for the fireplace!
You guys are an inspiration! Only a few days left!!
Can't wait to see you down the road, I mean trail!!
Chad and the Gang from NH
Great post! So long and newsy with terrific pics! When I read the bit about the bear cable, my mind envisioned a TV station dedicated to bears. Now if I were in the wilderness, my frame of reference would be a pole to hike your food up, up and away from bears. But I'm in the city and "cable" means TV to me. I can't imagine sleeping with the critters, in the dark, no comfy mattress, no running water. And you've been doing this for 125 days. Absolutely incredible.
Justin, way to go! I'm envious of you and Patrice… glad you are able to do this. I have hiked only a small portion of the AT. All is well in fairbanks, no snow and hardly any frost so far…. great long fall. Deb McAtee and Lee
Finishing on Diana's Birthday! What an achievement. Congratulations. Gonna visit Mom's cousin, Connie in Louisville? You two will deserve a good long rest when you are done.