Day 24: Campsite near Lemon Gap to Hot Springs, NC

I’m going to start a tally of our daily mileage and total mileage at the beginning of each post for those that are interested. I write both numbers down in my written journal every night, so I decided I should include it here as well.

Daily Mileage: 14.6
Total Mileage: 273.9
Are we in hiker heaven? We’ve had two beautiful, sunny days back-to-back and I feel like we’re getting spoiled out here. It felt like June weather in Maine today as we made the final push into Hot Springs.

We started the day off with two climbs. The first, up to Walnut Mountain and the second up to Bluff Mountain, our highest climb of the day at 4,686 feet. We felt good after two long days and it wasn’t until near the end of our hike that my feet started to hurt as they do at some point just about everyday. I’m seriously considering buying some new shoes tomorrow at the outfitter. Part of me wants to tough it out for another 200 miles to Damascus, but the other part of me wants to throw them in the trash and start out fresh. Who knows. I feel like I’ll have issues no matter what shoes I get. I’ve always had trouble with my feet and I wonder if I’ll ever find the perfect hiking shoe.

After the two ascents this morning, the majority of our day was downhill as we descended into Hot Springs. From the mountainside, it appeared to be a nice, little town. So far, it’s been the best trail town we’ve stayed in. The trail actually runs right through town. As soon as we stepped off the trail, there was our hostel, where Miles’ grandparents had reserved us a private room for the night. It was very nice of them and we are looking forward to spending the day with them tomorrow. The hostel is awesome and definitely the cleanest and nicest place we’ve stayed in since the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA, which was 273.9 miles ago!

Lots of people we know are here and we had a good time tonight grilling hot dogs, drinking beers, and hanging out around the fire talking trail news and gossip. It hit me as we made it untie town this afternoon and saw so many people we knew, that we really are a part of the thru-hiker community. I also realized how awesome this group of people is. Sure, we hike some long days and deal with aches and pains all over, but can we really complain all that much? It sure is a fulfilling life out here, I’ll tell you that. You really do learn to appreciate simple things like taking a hot shower and sleeping in a warm bed. Okay, so I know I’ve only been out here for 3.5 weeks, but it’s felt like so much longer. You learn things pretty quick out here.

So for those of you who have any interest in my armpit hair growth progress, it’s going well. See one of my early posts for more insight on my pit qualms. Bottom line, I’ve never gone this long without shaving. We’re picking up our bounce box from the post office tomorrow morning. In said bounce box is a razor. Said razor could easily shave off all that normally unwanted hair in a matter of seconds. I thought I would be dying to shave by now, but you know, I don’t really want to. My curiosity has gotten the better of me and I just want to see how long I can go without shaving. Maybe this is TMI for some of you, but it’s the closest I can get to growing a beard 😉 So for now, there will be no shaving. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress in the future, but I’ll spare you the photographic evidence.

We’re really excited to spend our first zero day in two weeks here in Hot Springs tomorrow. We’ll be busy doing laundry, buying food, and hanging out with Miles’ grandparents. Life sure is good, especially when you get to wash your hair with conditioner for the first time in almost 4 weeks.

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