Phil and I are taking our first zero day today in Hot Springs, NC. We are recuperating in an old Southern/ Victorian style house with our host, and talented cook, Elmer. He is an ex-thru hiker and is running his beautiful home like a hostel. Its an Inn just for thru-hikers. We are staying there with our new friends that we met on the trail, Felton and Jordan.
Hot Springs is a charming Appalachian town nestled in a mountain cove. Two substantial rivers run through it, and so does the Appalachian Trail itself! We walked the strangest section of trail today down the main street to the post office. It is blazed on the side-walk with little AT symbols. We are spending our time here washing clothes, using the internet, resting, and mainly eating food. When in civilization I am constantly stuffed to the point of barely being able to walk. In general we have come across great hearty food, but I've already lost alot of weight. Phil and I both weigh exactly 167 pounds. That was so weird to find out. I just bought the paperback book, Hatchet, and some dried black beans to go with our rice dish.
So far we are still not sick of the rice, Mac and Cheese, Indian meals, fake mash potato, and trail mix, but we really overestimated the fruit. We were giving ourselves a quarter pound each of dried fruit per day. After digging one too many cat holes we realized this was way too much fruit for anybody to be eating. We have started leaving and giving away dried fruit anywhere we go. Its great quality stuff, so people are willing to trade.
This has been a much more relaxing stop than at Gatlinburg, TN where we kinda went crazy being back in civilization. Tonight Elmer, our host, is going to get us a cheap price on getting into the volcanic hotsprings here where you can bath in hot fresh mineral water that comes out of the ground. They advise bringing bottles so that you can take some home to drink. Apparently thats how pure it is. We havn't got Giardia yet, and hopefully never will. It would be pretty tough to imagine too many impurities in the water around here because there are so many pristine springs along the trail. Not like hiking out west at Pitzer.
The trail is going really well. We are doing anywhere from 13 to 18 miles a day depending on elevation and weather. The other day we got caught in a blizzard, and I had to take a picture of phil because his whole face was white with icicles and snow. It looked pretty rugged. The snow can be beautiful though, especially when walking through groves of rhodendron in the low valleys (pictured above) or Frasier firs on the peaks. The middle elevations are a bit stark because its mainly hardwoods. We're looking forward to spring so that we can avoid the sub zero nights and treacherous ice. The ice has caused us to have a few hilarious spills on the trail though.
I hope all is going well for everyone out there!