I woke up early with the sun and had my tent packed up before anyone else popped their heads out. Don't know what it me out and moving so quickly. Maybe that it was what I call a "Trail Friday", or a day on the trail that we will make it into town. Usually means laundry, shower, a decent meal, and maybe a beverage. Catfish walked by before we headed out on the trail, but we caught up to him and the old farts when they took a break. We were talking about our plans for Hot Springs, and Catfish mentioned chicken fried steak. My mind was set! (ps - if someone can figure out how to send THAT in a care package, we will be best friends forever!). Made it to Deer Park shelter and had lunch.
Somewhere in the course of the day we took a break at a nice open spot by a creek and refilled water. Really thirsty today, as it was pretty hot. Met Cuz, his wife, their husky, lab, scharpei mix dog (see pic), and Cosmic John. Also along the trail at a road crossing, we thought it would be a funny joke (although a few days after April Fools Day) to put the plastic cap/holder back on the empty beers and put it near the trail and road crossing :). Dirty but funny joke for those who would come across it later.
Trekked on in the heat of the day, sweating pretty bad, and finally made the descent into Hot Springs. Right as we entered town, we saw Rambler (who we met back at NOC in Nantahala), and "Chuck Norris", owner of the newly renovated hostel in town.
We went into town and dropped out packs at the Smokey Mountain Diner, then went to a pub to have a round on Justin (thanks again man!). Then we walked across the street to Bluff Mountain Outfitter to pick up our food resupply for the next 5 days, and other various packages, then took them to Smoky Mountain Diner to eat chicken fried steak. It was amazing, along with the corn bread, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, and a huge ice water! I had FOUR packages!!! Crazy! Chris had 2, and Brian had 3. Huge amounts of boxes for the group! One of mine was my new replacement water filter parts from MSR, another the food resupply from Amy, a care package from Candice, Anna, and Matt back at Quad Merced, and a care package from my friend Hilary back in Saratoga Springs! It was like Christmas! Twinkies, hoho's, beef sticks, Snickers, Handi snacks, crackers, peanut butter filled pretzels, fruit snacks, pixie sticks, peanuts, trail mix, Jelly Belly's, Sour Patch Kids, Air Heads! TONS OF GOODIES!!!
Even after our meals, we ate goodies from the care packages, which also included a bunch of Oreos, hoho's, and other cookies sent to Chris, and cake and other sweets sent to Brian, as we did laundry while Justin waited for his pickup to get back to his vehicle.
It rained pretty hard for a while, so we went over to the pub to visit with some other hikers. Tons of them there. Cuz ratted me out for leaving the empty six pack along the trail as a joke! Haha! I'd probably be mad too! But he was a good sport and thought it was funny. We decided to stay the night in a large room above the pub and got showers. Played some pool, chatted with hikers, enjoyed some seltzer water I'd been craving, and called it a night.
Good hiking with you Justin, and thanks to all of you who sent care packages! Our bellies thank you!