Woke up a little sore after our 14 miler out of Hot Springs yesterday, as well as congested. Must be these damp nights getting to me. Had some congestion, a sore throat, and a headache. I thought all this fresh air was going to make me feel great, but it's getting the best of me some mornings. Gotta get this figured out.
Only had about a mile hike until we hit a mountain road crossing. Just as we got to the road, there was a sign advertising Belgium waffles, stew, vegetarian chili, desserts, hot and cold drinks to thru hikers and long distance section hikers, Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6 from 8:00am to 6:30pm. The sign said to go 350 yards down the street and turn right after the "Welcome to North Carolina" sign. We followed the instructions and ended up at the home of Hercules and FAL, 1999 thru hikers. A beautiful log cabin where we were greeted by a big friendly dog named Heidi, and greeted with a "welcome home" as Hercules (John) answered the door. He and his wife FAL are thru hikers who take hikers in to give them home cooked food and other comforts. They have been doing it for 8 years and have taken over 2,900 thru hikers in during that time. They do it every day that they can, only taking a day every now and then for themselves.
We were given a printed menu of drink options, that had the 10 day forecast on the reverse side, while FAL started us off with Belgium waffles. As soon as each of us had our (large) portion finished, Hercules brought over a big bowl of beef stew for each of us (unless you preferred the vegetarian chili). Just as soon as we could finish those, we were given about 4 options for dessert. This was awesome!!! I had a Belgium waffle with Newman's Own Coffee, a big bowl of beef stew with fresh homemade bread for dipping and some sweet tea, and ended the morning (keep in mind we got there around 9am) meal with a huge banana split! Hikers in the area kept coming in and after a while there were 10 of us all there being given the royal treatment.
Hercules told us a little about "truths" and passed around some Christian books we were encouraged to take if we so chose, as well as a piece of paper talking about Christianity, and also containing their contact info. They asked each of us to email them when we make it to Katahdin (the end in Maine). We were asked if we wanted seconds on anything. I passed, but a few people took seconds on dessert, including Frenchie who we sang happy birthday to.
We thanked them numerous times for the hospitality and were on our way. Amazing thing they do for fellow thru hikers! They said they have been there and done it so they know what it's like and want to help thru hikers out.
FAL told us that about 8 miles from their place along the trail is the best view on the AT. We hiked 5 miles to the first shelter and took cover while it rained. Hiked again once it stopped, or at least stopped for a little. We got rained on a little before we got to the area we believe had the great view, but we got hit with clouds, a break in the rain, then the worst rain I've experienced so far, for the next 2-3 miles until the next shelter. Got soaked and then it started to get cool out. Had dinner in the shelter, then shivered as I set up my tent after it stopped raining. Crawling into my warm sleeping bag felt great and here I lie. Warm and a lot drier. Today marks 4 weeks on the trail, and we hit the 300 mile mark too.
Til tomorrow, feels like a cool night outside these tent walls.