Day 28: Skipping Into Hot Springs, North Carolina

Appalachian Trail: Day #28

Deer Park Mountain Shelter –> Hot Springs, NC: 3.2 miles

Total AT miles: 273.7

A cold morning in the shelter keeps us snuggled, but not for long. Town calls and a famous one at that. We quickly pack our belongings and walk, sometimes run, into town. We satiate our hunger at the local bar where we run into Moonboots and the crew. They’ve been in town a while and filling their bellies before heading out. It is good to see everyone.

Next, we search for lodging. We tried contacting a woman about a cabin but with little reception in the woods were unable. We called when we arrived, but she went hiking! Oh well. Across the street is the Laughing Heart Hostel. We laid in the grass snacking on a bowl of apples and strawberries, generously donated by a local church, while we tried to decide.

The decision was made for us when Solo asked for two work-stay volunteers. He and his friend were heading out of town and his partner, Tie, needed some hands. Orion and I gladly accepted the position. We set up home in the warm and friendly hostel then got busy with chores before relaxing the night away.

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Cuddled up on a cold morning in the Deer Park Mountain Shelter before braving the cold to hike into Hot Springs.
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Packing up at the shelter.
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A frog in a crystal clear mountain stream.
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Reflection in the stream.
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Hot Springs, here we come!
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Mountain Goat skipping down the trail excited by the prospect of “chicken in bag.” Rotisserie chicken.
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All we talk about on run into towns is food.

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Good ol’ Appalachian Trail marker.
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A child’s guide to the Appalachian Trail.
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Make sure to take a picture of your family to keep the loneliness at bay!
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Whooo!!!!
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We made it to Hot Springs!
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AT blaze in the side.
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The sidewalk is the trail in this town.
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A man gives a tour of his tiny house on the outskirts of Hot Springs.

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Moonboots sporting his fresh cut.
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Clutch sporting a mohawk as well.
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And, the guy behind the mohawk trend. Cool Dad bought a pair of clippers. Said he cut more than twenty people’s hair!
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Would I like one? Hell no!
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My burger at the bar in downtown Hot Springs. SOO good!!
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Our packs lining the bench in front of the outfitters with Savage, Canuck, and Shaggy in the background.
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Day 18: Nero and a Chess Board at the Hilton

Day #18

Fontana Lodge –> Fontana Hilton Shelter

1.2 miles

165.9 total AT miles

The Fontana Hilton Shelter earns it’s name for the restrooms with running water complete with hot showers. It has a solar charging station to charge small electronics, a large fire area located above the lake, and, thanks to Canuck and me, a chess board on the floor of the shelter.

We left the Fontana lodge late in the day after a harty breakfast and a few more showers. A shuttle drove us to the trailhead where we hiked around the lake for just over a mile before deciding to call it quits for the day.

With the Smokey Mountains ahead, we did not want to rush off late in the day to a campsite we may not be able to sleep at. In the Smokies, we can only sleep in shelter areas and the first one is further than we wished to walk so late in the day. And it’s not like we are in a hurry. If we were, we’d have just driven to Maine!

Canuck and I enjoy chess so we decided to make a board on the floor of the shelter. With charcoal from the fire, we etched and shaded a board. We used flowers for our kings; large rocks for the queens, gravel for pawns, skinny sticks for bishops, nuts for knights, and shells for rooks.

The game got off to a confusing start and I gave up my queen in the first few moves mistaking one of our pieces. Canuck made the same mistake a few moves later, going down a queen as well. We caught on after that though and had an incredible time with our makeshift board. Good times!

We camped behind the shelter and laughed the night away before crawling into our nylon homes. In the morning we head into the Smokies.

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A breakfast burrito at the Fontana Lodge. Thanks for treating Bambi!
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Ah, the bathroom of the hotel at Fontana Dam. I took three or four showers before leaving this place.
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An algae-full pool at Fontana Lodge. It’s the wrong season for a swim.
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A bobcat mount in the lodge.
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The main area of Fontana Lodge.
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Golden Boy at Fontana before hitting the trail.
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Flowers in bloom.
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A shuttle transported us back to the trailhead. There is duct tape on the shifter…
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Exiting the shuttle and preparing to hike on!
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Fontana Crossing
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Press “0” on the telephone to order a shuttle for $3 to the lodge. How easy is that?
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Hiking around Fontana Lake.
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We came to the shelter, the “fontana hilton named for the showers and restrooms with running water available here.
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Mr. Kool-Aid charging his phone on the solar charger at Fontana Hilton Shelter
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The charging ports.
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Canuck in his hammock. He’s happier than he looks!
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Cannuck beside his hammock.
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Savage got a new, larger tent. It’s big enough for two!
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Canuck and I made a chess board on the floor of the shelter. Gravel for pawns, flowers for kings, big rocks for queens, sticks for rooks, shells for bishops, and different shells for rooks.
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What a game.
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Savage making smores.
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The view of the lake beside the fire pit.
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Cool Dad taking in the view.

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The Fontana hilton from the lake side.
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Camping behind the Hilton.
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We are always laughing out here. Living the greatest moment of our lives over and over again.
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I stiched a pin onto my hat. It came with nails intending to be used on a hiking stick.
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Mr. Kool-Aid dancing.
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A spider in the bathroom.