Appalachian Trail Mile 273.1; Hot Springs, NC

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 (Day 21)

I am in a bottom bunk. An oscillating fan whirls and clicks over the soft snoring of a dorm-mate, and the sound of television from a neighboring room. Karaoke has commenced down the hall.

I am at the Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The trail runs right through the heart of this town. I had never seen a live bait vending machine before today. The town grocery store is a Dollar General, or “D.G” as I heard a local refer to it. I find the locals to be quite charming.

I travelled just over 14 miles to get here. It was a rough 14 miles. I am fearful that I am coming down with a cold (I blame the shelters). The rain has been relentless this week. I thought today might be different. The sun is such a tease. This morning was bright and full of dry potential. As the day progressed, however, little spurts of showers fell from the sky in very small intervals. It was like when someone taps your shoulder from behind to fool you. It would just sprinkle enough for you to notice. It might cause you to put on some rain gear, only to get hot shortly thereafter, and pull it off again. The sky might laugh as you did this.

By 1pm the true showers began. Steady, heavy drops from the dark grey sky. Then a pause. Then there was a flash of light, inflicting momentary blindness. It was like nothing I had experienced before. So quick. So bright. Like someone flashed a camera bulb inches from your face. Then an enourmous clap of rolling thunder. The rain that followed was so powerful I did not think it could rain any harder. Then, of course, it proved me wrong. Only 6 miles left, I kept telling myself.

After one mile it stopped. The sun came out. I actually spotted shadows on trail. No rainbow though.

Thank goodness I would have access to a washer and dryer soon. I wore my dry sleep clothes and sleep socks because I was too much of a baby to put on my wet clothes in a morning full of grey. Now I was left with nothing dry.

The birds sang. There was the familiar squish/splat sound of wet sock in wet boot, wet boot in mud puddle. I was just thankful, slippery as the trail had become, that none of this was followed by a kerplunk of my downfall.

After a long steady downhill I came to the little town and the little laid back hostel. This little sheet-free vinyl covered mattress.

Now to take rest.

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