“The Family” hiked together (for the most part) from Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN. We completed the 70 mile stretch together in about 5 days. On April 30th, we dominated mile 300!
Rebel Yell, Rigga, Me (Dixie), Chance, Right On – Mile 300
It was rainy on and off that day, but beautiful overall. Fog has a way of adding a mystic touch to the day.
On May 2nd, I hiked over Big Bald which offered stunning views and blue skies.
That night, I witnessed a beautiful sunset at Big Bald Shelter. I must say, even the view from the privy is nice!
From Big Bald Shelter, we hiked into Erwin, TN completing a 16.8 mile day.
View from above Erwin, TN
Upon arriving, we stopped by Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, took a load off and ate some ice cream. The hostel seems to be an okay place, but one worker there in particular is not a nice man. He was rude to Rebel Yell and I and at one point we heard him blatantly yelling at the owner. Chance, Mountain Goat, Rebel Yell, Rigga, Bodyglide and I decided to pitch in together and stay in a room at the Mountain Inn. It was pretty nice and they offered continental breakfast and a hot tub. Hot tub for sore thru-hikers? SOLD!
“The Fam” outside of the Mountain Inn – Erwin, TN
After checking in we did laundry and bathed. Next on the list was food. We hitched to Los Jalapenos and shoveled in a table full. A shout goes out to the staff for the great service despite our showing up ten minutes before closing time. Also, a big thanks for the ride back to our hotel!
The first injury to the group occurred in Erwin when Rebel Yell decided to stomp a can with his bare foot and cut off a part of his heel. Luckily, it’s been healing up pretty nicely and hasn’t cost him any days off. Below is a picture of him holding a melon..something he clearly wasn’t using when he chose to stomp a can barefooted (ba-dum tssss!)..
Following checkout from the hotel, we were able to meet the infamous Miss Janet! She’s a well known trail angel that comes to the aid of thru hikers and functions solely off of donations. She drove us to town to resupply and was extremely helpful all around.
Miss Janet’s van at the Mountain Inn
Camel in Miss Janet’s van
Me, Miss Janet, Rigga
Bandit, a fellow hikers dog, in Miss Janet’s van
Once our resupplying chores were complete, we all headed back to the trail. We decided to hike in about 2 miles to the first creek side campsite so we could have a family dinner. There were enough brats, hotdogs and veggies for an army.
The next morning, Chance cooked brats for everyone on a flat river rock. I had never seen that done, but it worked like a charm and I plan to do it again.
Because we enjoyed breakfast and coffee so leisurely, our motivation to get moving was slowly diminished. I really wanted to get moving, but I could tell the group wanted to stay another night in the same spot.
Although I was somewhat hesitant at first, I decided another day of rest wouldn’t hurt anyone. Plus, Rebel Yell’s injured foot could use a day off. Finally, at about noon, “The family” came to a consensus and decided to take a zero day at the campsite. Mountain Goat, Chance and I emptied our packs and went back into town to get more food. A couple hours later we returned with more veggies, chips, s’mores ingredients, hotdogs, etc.
Additional hikers had even joined in and had set up camp. We threw frisbee, listened to music, played cards, played in the creek, made s’mores, roasted weenies and Perks caught some crawfish and cooked them. It was the most special zero day yet.
I think my biggest struggle on the trail is just letting go. It’s like in my mind hiking is now my day job and miles must be made or I’m somehow a horrible person and a slacker. Then, I realize this opportunity should be fully enjoyed and the fact that I can make my schedule is priceless. If I want to be lazy all day at a campsite–I should. If I want to hike 20 miles at night–I should. That’s the freedom of this adventure. It’s kind of like each day I have nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there. I just need to remember to let go and embrace that.
On another note, something I learned from our zero day outside of Erwin is that strawberry slices on s’mores are phenomenal. As a hiker you become so much more creative with food! But seriously, if you have never tried a strawberry s’more, I highly recommend you do.
Well, it’s time to say goodbye for now. But before I go, here are some additional pics I captured:
Stay tuned for another update. Until next time–
Happy Trails 🙂