While in Hot Springs I did all my town chores which include laundry, post office trips, grocery shopping and my favorite: eating. And boy did I do plenty of eating. This may seem like a recurring theme, but when all you do all day is exercise and at the end of the day you get some crappy ramen or chicken flavored rice it gets you thinking. This probably wouldn’t be an issue if there was some grand distraction. Don’t get me wrong, there are great views and pretty wildflowers. However, those only take up about 30 mins of my day. The rest of the time I’m staring at the rocks and the roots trying to avoid tripping. The trees don’t even have leaves yet. There is plenty of time for the mind to wander, usually to food. Even as I write this I’m salivating thinking about a nice burger, loaded with salt of course. Mmmm….. I’m pretty sure the body knows when the salt gets low from sweating too much.
In Hot Springs is a great hiker hangout called “Hiker’s Ridge Ministries”. They have sofas, WiFi, computers, a bathroom… It even comes complete with this wonderful lady from Indiana that spends her time baking endless amounts of chocolate chip cookies. I’m pretty sure that none of the cookies even have a chance to cool when more than one hiker was around. She has these boards that you can draw your trail name on and get a photo. They play through on her TV and I think she uploads them to Facebook also. I’m sure you can search around or someone can link in the comments.
Speaking of trail names…. I’ll explain. The tradition started in the very early days of thru-hiking. I know the first lady was known as “Peace Pilgrim”. I’m not sure when it hit mass adoption, but nearly everyone has a pseudonym after a few weeks on the trail. Many have some funny story to go with it. For example, “Tumbles” ended up with stitches on her first backpacking trip and “Tinkerbell’s” pack has a jingle to it when she walks, “Blackout” passed out and hit the counter when the bus company lost his pack. Some describe something unique about the person like “EZ Go”, who is super easy going about things. Not everyone takes a liking to their name; I’m thinking of “Mooch” in particular. A few others come to mind, but they aren’t really suitable for a civil tongue.
My name is “Parks”. I plan to explore all our National Parks so it seems fitting enough. Surely a better name than some others ended up with. You can always try to shake a name if you don’t like it. It doesn’t always work though if you hike in a group that is insistent.
At Hiker’s Ridge I met Odie and Neema who are putting together a hiker yearbook. This is a totally awesome idea and I saw the one they did last year. Anyone hiking should be sure to find them at Trail Days or other place, or email them a photo to get added. They’re doing a Kickstarter campaign in about a month to presell copies and raise funds.
With all the excitement in town it was super hard to leave. To top it off, it was raining when I needed to move on. I had taken a full zero and been in town for nearly 48 hours. I only made it 6.4 miles before the cold rain got to me and I setup camp. I was in my bag by 6:30 and asleep shortly thereafter. I was just before a spring at AT mile 281.2.
This morning I woke up and heard heavy breathing near me. I figured someone had setup their tent close by. I stayed in my bag for another hour before I could bring myself to put my cold, wet underwear and socks back on. With the wind howling I knew it would cut right through when I got out of my tarp too. And it surely did. Oddly, I didn’t see any other tents when I got out. There was no noise from anyone breaking camp. As I retold the story to another hiker at the next shelter he said it was probably a bear. Now I wonder if there was a bear right outside my tarp for at least ten minutes pondering if he wanted to fight me for my food. I suppose I’ll never know.
The rain held off all day, which is delightful. My only other adventure was towards Hemlock Hollow Hostel. A sign on the trail said it was “.06 miles” and there were tokens for a free beverage (soda, tea, coffee…). How could I say no? Even though I had gotten a Mt Dew only an hour before at a place “Mom’s”, I set off with TK. After well more than a tenth of a mile, we gave up. I checked the guidebook and it said 0.7! That’s totally not worth it. We decided to change their homemade sign to save other hikers from the same folly. Funny enough, shortly after we marked it up some ATC members drove up and removed the sign completely. Apparently they don’t like unofficial signs on federal property.
I ended my day at Little Laurel Shelter
Daily Mileage 12.3, AT mile 293.5
Tomorrow I cross 300!