We woke up in Hot Springs at 7:00 this morning so that Tandem and Lobstah could participate in a 7:15 spiritual event with an Indian sayer. While they did that, Bison and Kozi snoozed, and I took a second shower.
When I returned, Tandem was back, so we planned a breakfast trip to the Smoky Mountain Diner. Kozi and Bison joined us while Lobstah packed. After a delicious breakfast, we headed back to pack and check out by 11:00. Tandem and I then headed down to the Bluff Mountain Outfitter for food and tent stakes for Tandem.
Then we went over to the Hikers Ridge Ministries to repack our packs and visit with Queen Diva. We had a few fresh chocolate chip cookies and grabbed snacks and fruit for lunch. I helped Queen Diva try to create labels on the computer for her cookies bags. She went to the library to try printing the labels there and left me in charge of the Ministry, including hiker picture taking and center introductory tours. Luckily, no new hikers to town came in!
Queen Diva returned without printed labels, so Kozi and Bison helped write all 50 by hand for the cookie bags. Tandem and I moved to the front porch when several new hikers came in for pictures. Around 13:30, Tandem started feeling antsy to get back on the trail, so I checked my pack, said goodbyes to everyone, and we were walking down the street to the AT by 14:00.</a
We crossed the French Broad River and hung a right before starting a climb of 2200 feet over several miles. During the hike, we met a few day hikers and crossed a couple of roads. We started smelling smoke and noticed that we were approaching a large controlled burn area. Once we reached it, the fire fighters were wrapping up their perimeter verification process, and we actually had to detour on the fire road for a few hundred feet.
After the interruption, we continued hiking uphill until we decided to eat dinner. We made our first Mountain House meal of rice and chicken, which we enjoyed. We packed back up and moved on. On one of the last uphills, I took a spill forward on roots and scratched up my left shin badly. After applying first aid and band aids twice, we finally made it to the Spring Mountain shelter and found only five hikers there.
There was room in the shelter, so we set up in there. Three hikers were in hammocks. We hung our food bags and enjoyed the fire chat. Tandem retired to read her book, and I followed closely behind to write this blog. We have had no AT&T cell signal since before Hot Springs. Tomorrow brings us closer to Erwin, TN.