Hot Springs, North Carolina

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May 31, Tuesday (1883.4 mtg)

Up at our usual time to begin our trek to Hot Springs for resupply and part of a day in town. We said goodbye to the kids and their counselors and headed off. The wildlife encountered on this stretch of trail became the highlights for this morning. We saw a skunk pass across the trail a little ahead of us on the trail, and later encountered a wounded groundhog that would not let us pass. It would not get out of the way for anything! We poked and prodded it with a long stick, but it just bit the stick in anger. Perhaps that is how it became injured originally as a previous hiker tried to get it to move off the trail with his staff. Finally we decided to climb around the beast on the side of the hill above the trail. We made good time this morning and dropped into Hot Springs at about 11 am.

As the Catholic Hostel is basically the first thing we encountered upon entering town, we checked it out first. For six dollars you could have a shower and a spot in the bunkroom along with kitchen privileges. It is a nice place, but I had stayed there before, and there was a new place in town that opened up it's doors to hikers. An old Victorian house converted by a former hiker was now just down the street and offered a private room and shower for eight dollars. An additional five dollars got you a wonderful vegetarian dinner. We chose the inn for thirteen dollars. We picked up our mail at the post office, went back to the hostel to leave a note for the Chiefs who would be coming in later that evening. I retrieved at least two packages from the local post office from my mother, and a letter from Grandma.

A sight to behold was provided at the local laundry facility as we shed virtually everything that we had and took the opportunity to freshen up our shorts, shirt and socks. While near the laundry, at the trailside cafe, I gouged myself on some real protein contained in a genuine "trail burger" for only $1.95 along with a side of fries. Of course that was appetizing, but not nearly enough, so before returning to the inn, we bought a half gallon of butter pecan ice cream and other groceries for the next leg of our journey. But before that, around 3:50pm, I placed a call to Illinois to talk with mom, but she was at work. My sister Julie answered the phone. I had originally wanted to call mom at work, but I guess I just instinctively dialed the home number instead. I told her to tell mom to keep the slides she had developed in order, and to put numbers on them if she wanted. I estimated ten days before I arrived in Damascus, Virginia and if she was going to send anything, all I might need was some socks. I expressed my thanks for the letters from Grandma, and told her it is nice to hear from people back home. The call was short, only seven minutes (cost $4.75) and soon we headed back to our room at the inn for dessert. Jim and I each consumed one quart of the ice cream as we lounged on the porch while rocking, and relaxing in the rocking chairs that provided an old time atmosphere.

Supper was excellent! It all started with creamed asparagus soup, then salad, brown rice, mixed vegetables, and peppermint tea. That was topped off with homemade Gingerbread cake. I was stuffed! We sat around the table after supper and yapped with Beth and Dave (other thru-hikers), a guy from England, Tom and Mary, and the owners Elmer Hall and Gary (?). Later I ate a can of mixed fruit, and headed off to bed. This was my second time in Hot Springs, and I still could not get up the nerve to visit the condemned Hot Springs Spa on the outskirts of town. Illegal entry during the night into the rundown buildings was the only way to sample the hot springs. Staying up late enough to sneak in was the problem. I guess I did not want to stay up late enough to give it a go. This resort town of the past was supposedly used to house German prisoners of war during World War II. I heard they liked it so much there they did not want to leave after they were released.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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