It wasn’t necessarily a good night sleep in the Standing Bear Hostel. But I was protected by Sylvester the cat who was protecting me from the mice in the hostel. Multiple times he jumped down on my bunk and chased a mouse around the cabin until he successfully caught him. After the sleepless night I arose around 7 with having a warm cup of coffee on my mind. It is amazing the things that you miss. I was hoping to head out early from the hostel and get on the trail but the people were too nice and entertaining to leave. finally at 930 I was able to get on the trail and began my trek through a misty and overcasts day. I climbed up and down all day and was soon soaked. As I neared the top of the first mountain, Snowbird Mountain, I realized I would once again be dealing with snow all day. I dropped down to a rhododendron forest and soon had snow falling from the low hanging leaves falling on my face and down my back. I began to get very cold. I came to Brown gap and there was a tent set up with the great trail angel, Apple, who gave me coffee, cookies, and a soda. I spent quite a while there and had a great conversation with him before it was time to move on. from here the trail began to climb up towards 5,000 feet and the snow became a foot deep. I reached Walnut Mountain Shelter at 440 and decided to go all the way to Hot Springs, North Carolina to make it a 33 mile day. I had one more climb left, soaked feet and the a headlamp that was out of batteries. Even so, it was a challenge that I wanted to accomplish. I raced up over Bluff Mountain and began the fast decent to try to find bare trail before it was too dark to see. At about 630 I finally found enough bare trail that I decided it was safe to put on some dry clothes in order to make the last 7 miles more comfortable into Hot Springs. Using my iPhone flashlight I walked the last two hours and arrived at Laughing Heart Hostel at 9 pm which is considered hiker midnight. I could not have been more surprised when Tie told me that someone had called in and paid for my room, laundry as well as the next five hikers that came through. The random act of kindness could not have come at a better time. All in all I got a 33 mile day in, I feel great and will spend most of tomorrow around town taking care of all the issues that arose over the past 5 days in subzero temperatures!
NOTE: I will begin posting in the morning as it is easier for me to schedule them that way, so do not be alarmed when there is no post tomorrow evening, I will post pictures tomorrow evening for you though!