It rained most of the night, but when we woke at 7:30 in the Roaring Fork shelter site, it was just dripping from the trees and the wind was blowing. We packed our wet portable shelters and made some hot water for coffee and hot chocolate. We finished packing, said our goodbyes to Bacon Dog, Momo, Wet Bandit, and others, and departed. It was downhill out of the site, and during a couple of big uphill climbs, the skies cleared and we took off layers. We are starting to make great time.
On the longest downhill of the day, I stopped for lunch around 13:00 near a cascading water fall in a small campsite; Tandem joined me about 10 minutes later. We were then joined by Lobstah, Wildflower, and her hiking partner, and we all enjoyed lunch together in the sunshine by the water feature.
Tandem, Lobstah, and I left to complete the downhill run. We were behind Time To Eat and Socrates. When we hit the bottom at a fire road, we were greeted by Jimmy who had trail angel snacks and beverages ready. He was there waiting for his slack packing wife.
I had a Mountain Dew, a honeybun, and a Twinkie! Tandem had a taste of her first Twinkie. After eating, Socrates showed Lobstah how to do some enhanced stretches. We also learned that Jimmy was providing Time To Eat with an opportunity to slack pack the 6.6 miles into Hot Springs, which was nice of him. We thanked Jimmy and started our 6.6 mile hike.
We mixed it up on hiking order, and Tandem and Lobstah had a lot of time to talk. Socrates, Tandem, and I dropped into the Deer Park Mountain shelter for a break, then began on our last four miles into Hot Springs.
Tandem and I booked a cabin in Hot Springs for five, including Kozi and Bison, for Thursday night. Then we went off to find the campsite along the AT on the north end of town along the French Broad River. The only mistake we made was stopping too early along the trail and too close to some houses. We realized this in part due to the hound and cat that visited us. We reread Awol’s AT Guidebook and determined that we needed to be further down the river. So, after drying our tents in the sun and making dinner, we repacked and moved about a third of a mile down the river and away from the houses.
After re-setting up, we went into town for a beer and chili cheese fries. The cat followed us to the river bridge into town and meowed loudly at us for leaving him.
Our plan for tomorrow is to do laundry, visit the art gallery, restock food, charge devices, and check the five of us into our reserved cabin at 14:00 for the rest of our second zero day. We’ll leave late on Friday morning, depending on distance and weather.