Our first zero day! We should have slept in today, but Bennett’s BBQ was offering a $7 AYCE breakfast bar. So, after having lunch there yesterday, we returned with Bison and Kozi to pig out for an hour on bacon, eggs, and all the extras. It had started raining by the time we were done, so we waited for a break in the downpour to walk quickly back to the hotel.
Tandem, Kozi and I put on some form of rain gear and headed down to the strip to find boots for me and Crocs for Kozi. We headed to a shoe store, only to find out that they have no posted opening hour. We waited until 11:00, but they still weren’t open. We went to Walgreens for first aid and other supplies, and after swinging back by the shoe store and finding it still closed, we headed to the NOC for boots and Crocs. Kozi didn’t find her Crocs but did get sandals that allow socks to be worn. I tried on several brands and sizes of boots until I chose the Vasque Breeze II boot in size 14. That is two sizes larger than the boots I was sending home, which should help my heels and toes.
The rain had stopped by the time I was done shopping, so we headed back to the room to hang with Bison and Kozi before they left for the trail again. We watched TV while I sewed on the patches that had fallen off after being glued to my backpack. After that, Tandem and I said our goodbyes to Kozi and Bison, who had missed the last shuttle, but were able to hitch a ride to Newfound Gap.
Tandem and I need to get back to Clingman’s Dome in the morning, so she confirmed with RW that his father was still taking us back there with Bragen. We found out that his father is willing to drop us at Clingman’s Dome and take our packs nine miles up the AT to Newfound Gap and meet us there. That means that we can slackpack the nine miles with water, rain gear, and snacks, then pick up our packs later and do more miles tomorrow.
Tandem and I shipped my old boots back home, then went looking for a great local burger and Epsom salts for my foot soaking. We also got a few more trail food needs and more ice cream. We found the burger at Blaine’s Grill & Bar, and it was perfectly cooked medium for both of us.
We returned to a raucous group of thru hikers getting ready to party on the town, moonshine style. Tandem and I excused ourselves to our room and later turned down a personal invite from Lobstah to walk the strip. We gathered our gear, sorting out the items we will slack pack and putting the rest into our packs.