We stayed three days in Hot Springs due to both injury and exhaustion. There also happened to be a festival, beer, and of course…hot springs.
Here is a link to AT festivals: https://happyhikertrash.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/appalachian-trail-festivals-2015/
Our first day in Hot Springs was a late night of wandering around finding a place to stay that was affordable. I really wanted to stay with Elmer, but his house was very full because of Trailfest.
I met Fiddlehead and Wild Turkey in Hot Springs sitting on a bench outside of Bluff Mountain Outfitters. After eating food and setting up camp I made a fire and had some beers because I was too cheap to party at the restaurant (common theme on my hike).
The next day Chewy, Sam and I enjoyed the hot springs in our underwear. The magical warm waters healed our aching muscles as we watched the French Broad river rush along.
After the Hot springs we visited Roadrunner at the Hiker’s Ridge Ministry Resource Center. I hopped on a computer for the first time in weeks to tell everyone I was alive while munching on fresh baked cookies. As I left I forgot to sign out of facebook and someone posted something embarrassing on my feed about “me so hungy” but the joke backfired and an awesome lady sent me some tasty energy bars later on down the trail. It was a good joke. At the Ministry I met Queen Dive, a very energetic and sweet trail angel.
The Trailfest started with Yoga accompanied by live flute music. I really enjoyed the yoga and went deeper into poses than I’ve ever experienced before. The Yoga was followed with some slight energy working sessions.
Once I had relaxed and was starting to accept the workings of the community festival Sam convinced me to enter the icecream eating contest with him. I entered with several other hikers, most notably Breakless and the Wild Boys.Sam ate his pint the fastest and I came in as a not so close second. Sam won an amazing hiker Samurai hat, and I won a Dark Side of the Trail Pink Floyd mock shirt from Bluff Mountain Outfitters. It was a win-win situation until my stomach starting hurting. We fixed the stomach ache with onion rings.
Chewy entered the hiker cook-off and battled it out against Chef. This is actually how Chewy’s name really started to stick because his dish won “best texture” as he forgot to remove the tails from the shrimp.
By the end of the day we were exhausted. The following day we recovered from the festival and moved our camp to a public area behind the local dollar store (hiker trash mecca). That day and night was filled with cheetos and some serious hiker trash chaos. When we left Hot Springs I was more than ready to get back to the peace and quiet of the woods. Fiddlehead camped with us that last night and began hiking with our group. Just as Fiddlehead joined our group, Roadrunner said his goodbyes and headed out with Breakless and Haiku. I never saw Roadrunner again on trail.
It is difficult to understand when someone walks away, but after leaving and entering groups on trail I have come to understand what it means to choose to walk alone or with friends. The heartache of loss came to be normal for me on trail, and I did very little to avert this pain by distancing myself from people emotionally. I just leaned into the emotions, embraced them and let them wash over me one step at a time. “Just put one foot in front of the other.”
I remember thinking “How could he or she do this to me? Don’t they like me?” but now I see that it had nothing to do with me. It was a blissful flow not to be controlled or derailed by the constructs of egoism. However, this topic gets very complicated later when I found myself coping with injury, the possibility of going home and extreme sadness from attachment and loss. Most of the writing I did on trail is from Vermont, post-injury into post-trail.