Hot Springs the oasis of the south

As soon as the rooster started to crow, I was up.  Packing my bag by headlamp, I moved around quietly to not wake up the bunk house.  I wa Ted to be ready and to get out as soon as possible. After the night I had before, I wanted out and back on the trail. I was ready by 7 am, before any of the other hikers were up.  I was already resupplied, so there was nothing to do but hit the trail, except we needed a ride back to Max Patch.  Teddy was the best one suited for talking with the owner about the mishap before and we trusted him to help us out.

Throughout the morning the others packed and got ready, waiting till the last possible moment to put on the still damp clothes.  I was so excited to see Gadabout, T-bird, Big Brown, Pebbles, and Honey Bee that I was very sad to leave them. In the past month I’ve found two familes out here on the trail.  Those four and the four I was with now.  Our repeated goodbyes lingered and never ended, we found every excuse to keep our conversation going, offering food, changing the subject, repeated hugs, anything and everything to keep the family together.

The time finally came to get back on the trail.  Teddy had gotten the proprietor to give us a ride back out and we were more than ready to leave.  Ou reef first bit was to climb up to max patch and we joked a bit about just skipping the next two days and going right to hot springs. The day was too beautiful to give up, the cloudless deep blue sky, the sweet spring breeze bringing us the smell of fresh grass and flowers all weighed in our decision to go on.  From there out it became an adventure for sure.

Not a hundred feet down the trail, I heard Teddy cursing again. I couldn’t believe it, his shoes and literally ripped in half, just below the laces. His foot was sticking out the front of his shoe looking like a tongue flopping around.  I passed him as he tried to tape it, hiking up around the back of the mountain, climbing through the mowed fields, we ascended. Spiraling back and forth across the hill side we could see what awaited us at the top.  Andrew Ultra Notlight and I finally came to the top, meeting Card Shark and Kevin, taking in our splendid views.  The clear sky allowed you to see for miles, the sweet cool breeze took the hint of heat away and gave you the most exciting feeling on our sweat soaked skin.  We all stood in amazement of the wonder and beauty of Max Patch.  The past two days were worth all the hassle for this, it was truly a wonder to be had.
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Relishing in the moment we all took photos and videos, this was when I spied Teddy coming up the mountainside. His bright green shirt casted against the mountains blue and sky backdrop created a wonderful photo opportunity.  Taking a few shots I managed to capture the perfect moment as he came closer and closer.  Teddy was filming for his family back home and telling them all about us.  We all stood there laughing, poking fun, happy with our own perfect moment. With any and all moments, they are fleeting, passing just as quickly as they came in.  It wasn’t long before our own private patch was filled with day hikers, and other people doing just what we’re doing.
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This is when we joked about just skipping to hot springs for the day and missing the next 20 miles. Kevin spent the next 15 minutes trying to arrange a hot air balloon ride off the patch to town.  With little to no luck he exhausted every avenue till his phone died.  Card Shark and Ultra Notlight hiked out while he blooded over continuing.  My brother tired and worn out emotionally came to a decision. He was going to hitch into town and take a break, he needed a mental holiday from his hike.  There were no complaints from us, we wished him well as Teddy and I hiked out.
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The next 4 miles went by so quick, the trail was flat and easy going, the miles flew underneath our feet on the way to the shelter.  Breaking there we had a snack and decided to regroup at the next gap.  Just before we packed up my bag tried to commit suicide. It was propped up against a tree, sitting there for 15 minutes or so and then all of a sudden it leapt to the right and rolled down the hill to the water. The only thing that stopped it from going all the way down was a small sapling that stopped it’s progress.  We all immediately broke out in laughter when I looked at them and said “Hot Springs?”.  And like that we were off back down the trail, Card shark in the lead, even her rolling her ankle twice didn’t slow her one bit.

We all hiked pretty much alone till the next gap.  All I could think about was how bad my IT band felt, Her ankles, Andrews tooth, Kevin’s face, and Teddy’s shoes, why the hell were we still here on the trail if we were all beaten down a bit.  My brother is always coming up with some cockamaney ideas and he was the one smart enough to get 9ut before he was too injured. Something must be wrong in the world.  I told them all that and they all pretty much wanted to just finish the miles to the last shelter, stubborn to the end they are.  I was ready to gol, so I prayed and looked for a ride at this well out of the way.  Teddy and I tried everywhere to get a signal to call out.  The only car that passed us was a bunch of locals heading to a farm, so that was a no go.  I was going to have to walk out then.

Begrudgingly I headed up the hill in the heat. It was hot, humid and I could think of a million places I would have rather been than on that hillside. The temperature caused the sweat to pour off my face.  Each step I became more and more irritated, I wanted out, my knee and thigh hurt and I was out of vitamin I. Teddy long behind me gave me the motivation to keep going, I didn’t want to be passed either, I just wanted this hike to be over.  These feelings lasted up the hill and down.  It only got worse going up the mountain, it’s not that it was a hard mountain, the slope was easy and lasted forever. This long climb only irritated me further.

Coming to the top of the mountain I found no relief from the heat and no views too add insult to injury.  So far the day had been draining and there was nothing to alleviate these feelings and emotions.  That is until I started my climb down, just as I crested over the summit I could see Hot Springs and I stopped right there, immediately in my tracks, looking down feelings sense of relief, joy, elation at the sight of the town.  In that magical moment my cell phone keyed up my radio and started playing music.  I couldn’t have been any more happy at that moment on the mountain.  I was off, like I had been shot out of a cannon, running down the mountainside, singing, skipping, dancing all the way down the mountain.  My music blared in my ears, pushing me to keep it up. The pain I had been feeling had left and been replaced with and ll sorts of feel good feelings.
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Passing Teddy on my way down we made great time to the last shelter.  Even falling off a small bridge did not stop our trip to the shelter.  I was walking across this rickety bridge and my foot shot off with the wet moss covered wood.  We had left around noon today and done 18 miles by 8 pm and we were tired.  I really didn’t even eat much, just snacked and fell immediately asleep.  We only had three more miles to get to town for breakfast in the morning.  The last three miles went by quickly in the morning, we all were ready for bacon and pancakes.  Tired from our week or more in the woods we hiked with a passion.  Cutting through the forest, we talked and kept up a great pace.  Coming to the last bit of trail we spied a parking lot and we chanted breakfast over and over.  To make our momentous morning better Kevin just so happen to be walking up to the diner as we walked in.  We ordered food and ate, oh how we ate.  The past few days made this town feel like an oasis in the desert for me.

2 thoughts on “Hot Springs the oasis of the south

  1. Love the blog dude. Still reading every entry man. I’m in Erwin, Tennessee @ the moment. Try to find me on facebook, cant seem to find you. Hope you are well and still enjoying yourself!

    Like

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