Day 27. Camping by the river was nice, though very rocky and windy. I felt bad for the others in tents as I swayed blissfully off to sleep in my hammock. In the morning, I woke around 8am ready to see what else the town of Hot Springs has to offer. Spoiler alert, it did not disappoint.
The one issue in town, though, is the lack of cell service. Not too surprising, given the entire town id just 4 blocks long on one main road. The restaurants and other typical hiker options didn’t offer WiFi, and the hostels only give it out to guests. I raised this dilemma with Cinco (Ian) who was camped next to me and packing up to hike out of town. He suggested we go hang out at the Hiker’s Ridge Ministries, a small building near the tavern that is setup specifically for hikers to come relax, enjoy snacks/coffee, and use free WiFi. It was exactly what I needed to get yesterday’s blog posted, call family, and attempt to download the rest of my missing music/podcasts.
The Ministry was amazing, and does not appear to have any true religious purpose, except to help hikers on their journey to Maine. I jokingly told them I am also a Minister, ordained by the Universal Life Church of Modesto California … which got a laugh. It’s a real thing, and allowed me to officiate 2 close friends’ weddings, but is a complete joke. Google it.
The people at the Ministry allowed me to use the WiFi while chatting with them to learn about the town. They also were happy to watch my pack the rest of the day, and gave out a plethora of fresh baked cookies. Any future thru-hiked should stop in to say hello, they were the kindest people! Actually, this whole town is full of kind people. Really a great place to visit.
Around 11, I collected everyone’s dirty clothes and headed back uphill to the Laughing Heart Hostel to do laundry. They allow non-guests to do it for $5, which is a great deal … especially since the laundromat in town had no working dryers. When I walked in, guess who was sitting in the kitchen? It was Leap Frog (Julia)! We hadn’t seen her since before Gatlinburg, so it was great to reconnect again. After
asking begging the staff to do our laundry for us (admitting, we were supposed to do it ourselves), Leap Frog and I headed back in to town to locate the others.
We found them at the outfitter, Bluff Mountain, which is a GREAT store. Tons of high quality gear and the staff are very knowledgeable. They helped Fun Facts, Nubs, and Culligan get sized for new shoes, and aided me in some small odds and ends. The hip belt on my pack is getting too small as I lose weight (can’t tighten it much more), so they found an old hip belt from another bag and gave it to me to create some extra cushion. Not sure if it will work but it was free and a good idea to try out. I’ll try lashing the foam pieces to my pack’s hip belt and see if it works. I could just keep using the patented “Neiman Wrap” of my fleece sweatshirt, but would like another option if possible. For those unaware, the Neiman Wrap is a way to secure a sweatshirt around your waist without tying a knot – perfect for some hip belt cushion. It’s a Tom Neiman original design. 🙂
Side note, I almost bought a spoon today, but was sent a surprise. Fun Facts’ parents have been following our journey and knew of my spoon woes his far. They sent two sporks for me in her resupply box! One orange and one black, of course. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Fun Facts! I will try very hard not to break/lose this one.
After we were all squared away, all 5 of us headed to the hot tubs. What can I say … It. Was. Magical. Three hours of soaking in natural mineral spas of hot springs was heavenly beyond explanation. We ate lunch in there, we drank wine in there, we ran down and jumped in the river, then back in to the spa … we slowly boiled ourselves into what Culligan lovingly called “hiker stew” … and loved every minute of it. It may sound gross, but it was divine.
After 3 hours we bid farewell to Leap Frog, who was hiking out that afternoon, and checked in to our cabin. The spa resort cabins are along the river and nothing too special. Fir $60 you get a heater and 3 beds that sleep up to 5 people … and nothing else. Showers and bathrooms are nearby, but it’s pretty much a place to sleep and that’s it. Some other hikers in town upgraded to the cabins that have full kitchens and bathrooms, but that was over $100 more. We opted for the option that lets us spend more money on food and drink.
After a quick dinner as beverages at a pop-up Taco Restaurant (in the place of Dory’s BBQ that the Guidebook mentions but has since already closed), we did a last resupply run at Dollar General. I picked up my resupply box yesterday so only needed a few additional items to supplement. The others were still hungry so grabbed a second dinner, but I opted to return to the cabin and organize my food/gear.
Tomorrow we hike out (up), but unsure how far. The shelters are either 11 or 21 miles away, so we’ll likely look for a usable campsite somewhere in the middle. Assuming the shins stay good, it sounds like a doable plan. The next town of Erwin is 65 miles away, which we think we’ll get to in 4 days. I didn’t get a chance to look into synagogues or Seder-hosting family options today, so not thinking that will work out, but that’s ok. I’ll find a way to have my own mini celebration on the trail. Stranger things have happened.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 274.9
- Start Time: 00:00
- End Mile: 274.9
- End Time: 00:00
- Miles Hiked: 0.0
- Miles to Go: 1916.0
- Lodging: Hot Springs Resort and Spa