Catching up on our posting, these next few may be a bit brief.
Day 29 (May 5): We climbed out of camp rather early, while inhaling a quick breakfast on the go. Along the trail it started to down pour on us. Enjoyed some hot ramen for lunch at Groundhog Creek Shelter. Nadine found an emergency blanket that was left at the shelter, which she wrapped around herself, making her look like a baked potato. Climb towards Max Patch as the rain slowly turned into a snow mix and eventually hail. We were soaked to our bones within seconds, while the incline was getting the best of us. By the time we reached Max Patch the trail was covered in snow.
When we reached Roaring Fork Shelter (mile 255.7) it was packed to capacity, but we managed to squeeze ourselves between some other thru hikers. Cooked dinner for Nadine, who was wrapped in her sleeping bag while heating her hands on some hand warmers. A reporter showed up at 7:00pm with wine, crackers, cheese, pears, and some questions. He interviewed Jonny, Charlie, and I about the trail and funny stories. Nadine experienced a rather difficult night since the girl next to her claimed everyone else’s sleeping pad as her own.
Day 30 (May 6): After a wet night, we were ready for a night in Hot Springs (mile 273.7). Along the way Jonny suggested the trail name “Town ghost” for Nadine, since she was almost running the 18 miles into town in anticipation of a hot shower and glorious food. The climb down was long, steep and rather uneventful. Even though the trail was long and strenuous, time went by in a heart beat. We just could not wait for the moment when our lips would touch the glass of a cold beer. Jonny, Charlie Dog, Sam, and I stayed at Little Bird Cottage, just off the trail in town.
Our so called master bedroom had a Whirlpool bath tub in it, which was quite surprising. After cleaning up we went to the town’s tavern for some cold beers, burgers, and chili cheese fries. One of the thru hiker’s husband and daughter visited her in town and generously bought two rounds of beer for all of us at the bar. Thor, Casey (panty hose), and Kate joined us later that night, which was a surprise since we haven’t seen each other for a while. After the bar, Nadine was relaxing in the tub while the guys headed back to the bar later that night.
Day 31 (May 7): We extended our stay at the cottage, so we could resupply without any rush and heal some sore bones. Jonny took a bath and flooded our whole room by doing so. Nadine enjoyed a her zero by watching Netflix in bed for the entire day – didn’t move a single toe. We bought fresh bread and butter to enjoy on our relaxing day. Spent the evening around a campfire at the hostel across the street.
Day 32 (May 8): Before climbing out of Hot Springs, we stuck around for a lunch time BBQ at the Laughing Heart Hostel.
Stopped in at the local pub for one last beer before hiking out. We passed a few campsites along the river just outside of town that would have been nice to stay in.
Climbing up the hill side we had great views back into Hot Springs but soon reached the burnt trees of the recent forest fire.
Along the way we were surprised to find a dammed pond with benches for us to relax our feet.
Later passed Rich Mountain fire tower where we almost spent the night but decided to push on to the shelter.
Ended the day at Spring Mountain Shelter (mile 284.7).
Day 33 (May 9): Had a sluggish morning, but stopped for a midday break and soda at a hostel before our big climb of the day. The climb turned out to be much easier than anticipated. Stopped for a photo op at Whiterock Cliffs.
Originally described the next six miles as possible the easiest so far on the trail, but turned out to be some of the more difficult. Climbing up to Firescald bald felt like we were climbing ancient temple steps in South America. The ridge line was strenuous and never ending.
Eventually made it to Jerry Cabin Shelter (mile 300.1) where Team Mobile, unfortunately, caught us. Also spent the night with Smoke, Walker, Micky, Mrs Mass, and Tracy (Lightfoot). Had a comedy hour with Eagle Eye. He made a joke about mail order brides and his radioactive pecker.