Woah!! It’s been a crazy blur since we left Gatlinburg, and we are nearing the 300 mile mark, which is hard to believe. I seriously don’t even understand that has happened, it doesn’t seem real!
Anyway, about a week ago we hitch-hiked out of Gatlinburg with Gentleman and Sloth and once again hit the trail. We were so happy all our stuff (and ourselves) were dry. We found all our pals also getting back to trail, and for a moment we were all happy, then it started pouring AGAIN!! With no choice but to hit the trail with the crew, we did!
That day we got drenched and the Smokies were not kind. Luckily it cleared at least a little for us to get awesome misty views from a place called Charlies Bunion!
We ate lunch there with the Gentleman, then we made it to the shelter and to our amazement had a shelter spot!! Thank GOODNESS!! We camped with all our friends and felt better. The next day it was on and off raining again, and lots of Great Smoky views. Honestly it all blends together.
Finally it was our last day in the Smokies and it was SUNNY, WARM and glorious!! We hiked with all our friends to a little side trail up to Mt. Cammerer lookout tower for an amazing 360 view of everything we had not really been able to see! We had some beers and snacks that Fire Devil had packed in and it was GREAT!
We ended the day walking through a beautiful lush low elevation with waterfalls!! We were with our friends Tots and Splash, and we got to Standing Bear Farm, where we had a pizza and and hung out until late around a fire! The next morning we left later than expected, due to lots of friends rolling in, having a big breakfast and playing some games. It was a good day, until we headed out and the DOWNPOUR began! This was the most soaked we have gotten yet, and it was pretty miserable! It started fun, but soon was wet and cold and muddy and BLAH!! For the first time we considered if we should give up and go home, because NOTHING about this was even remotely fun. Finally we got to the shelter and had only done half the miles we wanted, unfortunately. But we were greeted by friendly faces, encouragement and some whiskey, so our evening turned right around!
Oh also during the height of the storm we hiked by this creepy space station thing and were convinced the aliens were coming for us
The next day was sunny and gorgeous and we got the best view yet of the trail!! We spent the day hiking with Sloth, and met up with Fire Devil and Buttercup at different times. The view from Max Patch was incredible, and we had a wonderful break up there!!!
From there we did a short few miles to the shelter and had another evening among our favorite pals, including Sloth, Splash, Tots, Fire Devil and Buttercup. Gentleman was a few days ahead or “in the future” as we all call it, and we hoped to see him again! That night we all decided to get a cabin together in the next town, Hot Springs, and make TACOS! This group is becoming our little trail family 🙂 we all were chanting this as were hiking, and getting excited about the best day in town!
The next day we hiked mostly with buttercup and had some great, honest conversations. It was really lovely. When else in life do you get NINE solid hours of getting to know someone all at once?? It’s very cool. We all camped at a shelter just 3 miles outside of town and made plans for the taco party. The next morning we all woke up early and got into town, where we met up with Gentleman, Muscrat, Iron Jen and Mr. Ambitious, who had left us notes along the trail to get into town sooner haha
We all had breakfast together and saw so many hikers, and it was lovely!! Then we did all our “Nero” day things: laundry, resupply, coffee, check internet etc. that evening we had the long awaited TACO PARTY and it was everything we imagined and more. SO MUCH FUN!!
Sharing a cabin with 8 smelly hikers who ate beans and cheese all night was a bit crazy, but we all survived. A few of the crew got a little too drunk (NOT me or Lightning Bug, who are realizing that we have a few beers and switch to water, and are drastically different than we were a few years back…) and in the morning it was clear everyone needed some non-group time, after ALL the group time. Even though trail family is great and we all love each other, sometimes space is needed. Also since the cabin was on Moonbow’s credit card we were extra on edge about drunken conduct and making sure it got cleaned SPOTLESSS 😁
Me and Lightning Bug left the group and SOAKED for an HOUR in the Hot Springs Spa. It was AMAZING. AMAZING. So relaxing and so needed. Then we got coffee and found our trail dad LIGHTBULB and were so happy!!!! We had lunch with him and were so happy to catch up. He had been really sick but is feeling way better which we were glad to hear. Now we are in the Hot Springs Public Library with Gentleman, blogging and relaxing and getting ready to leave town. “Neros” always turn into longer days and are never long enough….
Biggest news is that yesterday marked exactly ONE MONTH ON THE TRAIL for Moonbow and Lightning Bug. We are hitting the 300 mile mark this week and should be in Virginia within a few weeks. CRAZY!! We are starting to feel the pangs of homesickness and missing our friends and family, but trucking on, and hoping people will VISIT US!! 😀😀😀😀