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.
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.