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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Foolishness and a bad day

On Monday the 20th, having left Hot Springs Kaitlin and I hiked. I hiked too far in my folly. I pulled an 18mile day but timed it wrong - I ended up coming over Firescald bald at night and only got into camp at half ten.

The day after was.. Bad. For the most part. I hadn't slept well, I hadn't slept long, and I missed home terribly. I wasn't enjoying the things I should have. But in the evening I managed to phone home, and a friendly voice managed to turn the day around.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Back to Hot Springs

The Sunday was quiet. Lot of hangovers I imagine. John Wayne gave Kaitlin, now Sponge, and I a ride back to Hot Springs. He's has to get off trail due to an injury, and so bought a car to tour the USA that way.

He dropped us off at the Visitor Centre a little after noon, where we charged phones and lounges about a bit. At around half three, the two of us still hiking set off for the trail again. We made about eight miles progress before perhaps annoying people already asleep when we tried to cook at our chosen camp site. In our defence, we set up and cooked as far from the others as we could.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Trail Days part two

Friday night was different.
Gone were the vendors and gear. Tent City, where most people stayed, was split in twain. On one side, it turned into a party that lasted into the early hours of the morning. The other suffered in quiet as the drums rang out. Drum circles, fire dancers, alcohol, drugs, and more consumed the woods and fields of the 'loud section' of Tent City.

That Saturday was busier and therefore louder. But even more companies had turned up, and perhaps more importantly, the freebies were being given out. I won a handcarved wooden mug from Dutch Ware Gear.

That night was louder yet, as everyone had to get rid of all their 'party supplies'.

Sunday was a mild, relaxed rush to get packed up and then head home. Well, to Hot Springs at least...

Friday, 17 May 2019

Trail Days part one

After a few days in Hot Springs, I finally left. But not to hike. On Thursday I managed to find a way to Trail Days. Kaitlin (now Sponge) and I, plus someone we had met the night before, got a two hour shuttle to Damascus.

Trail Days is a three day festival, of sorts, celebrating the Appalachian Trail. Many outdoors gear companies set up stalls to repair, replace and sell things. Some even sponsor the event. Big Agnes and Granite Gear are even willing to try repairing gear from their competitors! They helped me with my under quilt. Some companies even do giveaways, raffles and more. There are also food stalls, local arts and crafts, discounts at local shops and diners, 'Tent City' where most people camp, live music, free food, and so much more!

So far, I've had a lot of free food and had several people slowly work at converting me. As said, I've had my gear fixed and enjoyed the live music. The merchant stalls are also very cool.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Hot Springs

So two days from the Smokies lays Hot Springs. On the way is Standing Bear Farm which is disgusting and shan't be spoken of.
The day into Hot Springs is only remarkable for the impressive time I took. I averaged 3.4mph hiking (there was a lot of downhill to help).

The day and night before though...

It was bitterly cold. Especially at night, where we foolishly camped atop a ridge. It got below 49 Fahrenheit, whatever that means....

Last days in the Smokies

The penultimate say wasn't as wet as the day before. It was mostly just damp. There isn't much to say of it. That night, though, the heavens opened again.

The final day started well enough. I had slept warm and dry, and the weather was comfortable and cool. Views were non existant though.

I made it out and went to look at Standing Bear. 'tis a commune. They give you a slip of paper upon which you write any purchases, and then pay at the end. It was also dark, rank and nasty looking. I didn't stay. So I pushed on, to have a long day. Longer than I expected. Halfway up Snowbird, the heavens opened again. A deluge. I was walking through streams again like the last couple of times it stormed. Not wanting to face setting up camp in the rain, I ended up pushing to the next shelter. Including side trips to Mt Cammerer, whose good view I did not get, I did  20miles. Maybe more. I am exhausted.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Final two days in the Smokies

The penultimate day was a fairly boring day without note. It was very wet. A brisk 13 miles with a very heavy pack (from a complete resupply of food, fuel and so forth) got me to the Cosby Knob shelter. Which was full so I got to hammock overnight through a storm! Funsies.

The final say dawns and I have made it to Mt Cammerer Lookout. It should offer spectacular views. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of a cloud and so it doesn't. Alas. I'll be leaving the smokies later today.