Disclaimer: this was written a few days ago...enjoy (:
We made it to Hot Springs, NC Thurs. night after a 20 mile day in the snow, sleet, & rain. (As badly as I want to say that it was all uphill, it wasn't. It was actually rather pleasant for most of the day! Especially after coming off the summit of Max Patch (: )
After leaving my fam in Gatlinburg, we trudged on through 4 more days of rain & cold. Some days did give us enough of a break to dry our tent out at lunch...Mike would attach it to trees & let it flap in the wind for about an hour...we were workin' with what we were given! Tuesday night (where we posted from last) we were camped about a mile from I-40 & about 2 miles from the Standing Bear Farm & Hiker Hostel, definitely too close to pass up! We stopped in for snacks: Payday, Snickers, crackers, Nutter Butter, & 2 soft drinks, all for $5!! It was amazing (: AND, we got another dose of trail magic from a man named Apple, an actual Trail Angel. He was set up at a gap about 3.5 miles from Max Patch & had unlimited goodies! We arrived at the end of the day for him so we were allowed to take as many treats as we wanted! Score!!!
We'd already decided that we wanted to camp on top of Max Patch, but when we got to the summit it was rather wet...like the ground was soaked & rain was blowing in from all directions. After a little thinking & debating (weighing the options-mainly would we get struck by lightening) we decided "What the heck?!" We'd wanted so badly to camp there, so we did! One of the coolest things we've already seen on this trip is God answering specific prayers & He answered another prayer by giving us an undescribably gorgeous sunrise. We woke up & actually had about 20-30 minutes of perfect visibility; something we haven't had since we started the trip! Praise the Lord! (: After that, the fog & mist quickly returned & engulfed us, placing us back into the eerie wilderness.
We hiked our intended 16.5 miles to the last shelter & quickly decided that we were "crying uncle" & sucking up the last 3.5 mules & making it to Hot Springs. We snagged the bunk-house @ the Duckett House Inn, and were informed today by the other hikers that we'd made a good decision - they got covered in snow / rain all night! Hey, at least we were warm & dry! This morning, after a delicious & fatty...I mean hearty breakfast @ the Smoky Mt. Diner, OD & Cathy met us for the day / night at a local inn. We spent the day knocking around town...trips to the PO to pick up our packages (Shout out to: Honey, Mema & our friends at Jack Porter!), lunch, grocery shopping & a looksie at the local outfitter. We are now snuggled up by a fire waiting for one of Cathy's delicious dinners! Man, we're getting spoiled out here...and we're soaking up every single minute of it!
PS- We're set to roll over 300 miles on Sunday!