0 miles, 273.9 overall (Laughing Heart hostel, Hot Springs)
I sleep well at the B&B, however I still sleep solid for about 4 hours and then wake up every hour or so the rest of the night as I have been doing for weeks now. Since I am in an extremely comfy bed and not being awoken by other hikers this must be something to do with sleeping in an unknown place. Regardless I awake feeling refreshed. Breakfast is at 8:30 but coffee is ready early so I go downstairs to get some. While I wait for breakfast some older guests enter for coffee as well. I chat with some of them about the trail and how long I’ve been hiking until the food arrives. Once it does I retreat to my own table to devour it. Breakfast is buffet style and I make them pay by taking an oversized first plate. We hikers aren’t known for our manners. After I finish I return for some select seconds before I decide I should stop.
Just after I finish breakfast Ninja contacts me to let me know they are heading to do laundry so I join them. Over laundry they allay my fears of the new hostel so I make plans to stay there tonight. While our laundry runs we take care of other town business: post office, food resupply, and outfitter. The outfitter actually does double duty since it has gear as well as a sizable hiker food supply, including the all-important bagels and tortillas.
When we are caught up I go to the hostel to check in. There are plenty of spaces left but it is nice to put my gear down. Then we head to lunch. We have been promised ice cream by the waitress at the tavern so we return there. Although we get a different waitress for lunch, the one from last night is there and notices us: after we eat our lunches she brings over an Ingles refrigerated bag with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s AND a quart of Edy’s. She also gives us spoons and refuses to take money for her troubles. We promptly nickname her Ice Cream Goddess and proceed across the street to some benches to enjoy. I am so full from breakfast and now lunch that I don’t partake, but UV and Ninja aren’t phased. In under 30 minutes they have finished it all, helped a little at the end by Trophy Wife who shows up at the end and doesn’t mind helping. UV is so happy she goes back to the waitress and gives her a hug.
The rest of the day is filled with laziness. We inquire about a soak in the Hot Springs and find outthe earliest reservation they have is at 9:00. It is 3:30 now so we go back to the hostel for a while to nap and pack/organize. Instead of napping we end up watching a documentary about the AT created last year (2011) by someone whose trail name is Squatch. It is a great film with some good humor, people some of us recognize (including staff from Neel’s Gap), and of course images of wilderness. We all feel inspired after watching (incidentally it was a great film so you should look it up if you’re interested, I think it’s called Flip Flop Flippin’).
At 7:30 we head to dinner. With Ice Cream Goddess’ shift being over and having already gone to the tavern twice we go to the Iron Horse Restaurant. We are rewarded with some decent food and quick service which allows us to get to our hot spring reservation on time.
The hot tubs are priced per tub rather than per person. We reserve an 8 person tub but only fill it with 5 hikers: Trophy Wife, Bob, UV, Ninja, and myself. For a glorious hour we soak in the hot water while we talk about food, the trail, other hikers, etc. By the time we get out our legs have lost the soreness of hiker legs and returned to normal legs for the time being. We walk back to the hostel and go straight to bed so we can be ready tomorrow when we return to the Appalachian Trail.