In the smokey mountains, you must sleep in a shelter unless it is completely full. No tenting is allowed otherwise. This means having to sleep with snoring hikers, mischievous mice, and a very hard floor. Not to mention no privacy for said sponge bath! I loved the hiking in the last couple days of the smokeys, but was glad to be done with the park so I could sleep in my tent. I didn't realize how comfortable the ground could be until I spent 4 nights straight in a shelter. With that said, the shelters in the smokeys (not including the last one-davenport shelter) are all pretty awesome looking and convenient.
I had a question Regarding my food choices and how it is working out. For breakfast, I packed oatmeal and pop tarts. I am getting sick of oatmeal, but find the pop tarts very tasty (I know, weird) and convenient. I like to dip it in my hot chocolate. I got rid of my oatmeal last time and replaced it with instant breakfast, which I drank warm like hot cocoa. It tastes fine with water instead of milk. I also got some dry cereal to munch on, which was a great snack. I eat gorp (trail mix) during the day. I have a zone bar for lunch, and cheese on some wasa crackers. At cold temps, my cheese lasted 4-5 days. I also like tortillas with individual tuna salad packets, which Sparky convinced my to try. For dinner, I have enjoyed my meals from packlitefoods.com they are pretty tasty.
For the first 3 weeks on the trail, I didn't have a big appetite, so I stopped carrying as many snacks and treats. The last three days of this last stretch, I got my appetite. I was starving!! Treats are going back in the inventory! Something must have changed in that 4th week, because not only did I feel the hunger, but I dropped more weight in that 6 days than I did in the entire 1st 3 weeks.
On April 14th, we caught up to our buddy Voltron, or should I say he took a slow day so we would catch up. He hiked with us for the rest of the week, but left Hot Springs today.He will be doing some big miles to get ahead of us, then he will be taking a week off for a wedding, and then hopefully catch us afterwards. Snail and turtle camped with us every night too. Poor snail, which we now call "running snail" has a sore ankle, and will not hike with us this week. She is going to skip ahead to the next town for rest and wait for us. I am still hiking with Sparky, and was able to meet his wife Janet this week, as she flew in to visit in Hot Springs too. This week we also met some really nice section hikers including a high school group, and a boys group called 3D life. The boys were graduating from a troubled boys youth group. They were all very nice to camp with. It's nice to see young people doing parts of the trail, and their leaders are very inspirational.
On the 15th, we camped again with Seth and Norman from Pennsylvania, who still don't have trail names yet. I am working on it. We like them, and hope to run into them again soon. We also camped that night with the "wolf pack". That is a large group of hikers who always camp together and spend time in towns together. They have quite the bad rep on the trail for being destructive party animals. They were fine with us, and we enjoyed their company. Unfortunately for them, their reputation proceeded them in Hot Springs, and some of the hostels wouldn't allow them in. Weather the rumors are true or not, they are trying hard to make a better name for themselves. As far as I'm concerned, they shared their cookies with me, so they are friends of mine! Haha
Our last night before Hot Springs, me, Sparky, Voltron, Turtle, and Snail had a nice campsite to ourselves. We gad a great campfire, and my tent was an a very comfy soft patch of leaves. It was my birthday, and I hadn't had cell service for two days. I was bummed that I couldn't talk to Chris and my family, but it was so nice to be with my hiker family. Snail and Turtle always make me laugh, but Turtle is the biggest clown of all. Snail, however was cracking me up trying to steal Sparkys food all night. haha, we were all so hungry and almost out of food.
The next morning, I was last out of camp at 7:45. It only took me 4 1/2 hours to hike the 12 miles to Hot Springs. It was an easy stretch of trail, and my hunger for ice cream made me go faster. As soon as I got into town, I stopped in the first restaurant. I had just run out of water and was thirsty. They only had vanilla ice cream and that wasn't gonna cut it, so I ordered a lemonade. I went to put my backpack on the porch, and a guy who had just pulled in on a motorcycle asked if I would join him and his buddy so they could ask about the trail. I sat and talked with them and they bought me lunch. They asked all about the trail and took lots of pictures. Haha. They were very nice, and didn't seem to mind that I smelled like wet garbage. Luckily the bathroom had a bottle of febreze, so I could at least spray myself down before lunch.
I did my town chores; checked into my hotel, had an hour long soak in the tub, then a shower and washed my hair twice, did my laundry, did some shopping, and waited anxiously for Chris to arrive. I found out that a friend from a Facebook group was still in town, and was able to meet her in person after months of playing scrabble on my phone with her. It was so nice to finally meet Jan, AKA, "bright flower". Chris arrived just before 9, and my smile hasn't left my face since. It is so good to see him! Yesterday, we sat in the mineral hot springs for a very relaxing hour of private peace. He talked me into driving with him last night to a movie theater out of town. We saw a horror film called "cabin in the woods" of all things, right?!? Haha it wasn't so bad though. What was weird is the fact that I felt a little anxious being so far from the trail. I don't even know how to describe the feeling, but I felt very out of place.
We have had breakfast every morning with the hiker family. Chris has been able to meet Sparky & his wife, Janet, Turtle & Snail, Longstride & Silvergirl, Voltron, Balls & Sunshine (who I finally met in person for the first time, but have been communicating for several months. Sunshine is Balls 13 year old daughter who also completed the PCT with him last year), part of the wolf pack, and several other hikers we pass by on the streets. It has been fun introducing him to everyone. Today I took Chris on a 6 mile hike of the AT with me so he can see what it's like. He's napping now, so I think it wore him out a little. haha.
Since it was our first "zero" day yesterday, meaning we didn't hike any miles, I thought this treat was appropriate for me and Sparky
I almost forgot! Even though my body is getting smaller, it seems my feet are growing. I actually had to buy a new pair of shoes today a half size bigger. I was told to expect this, but i sure didn't expect it this soon! I have high arches, and they are already starting to drop, so I also got some really good inserts too. Hopefully I won't have clown feet by the time I am done with the trail!
Miles hiked: 279.8
Miles to go: 1904.4