Max Patch Bald
When we left the Smokies we ended up at the Standing Bear Farm Hostel. It wasn’t our intended destination but once we heard about pizza and soda’s we were easily adaptable. We arrived around 5pm and the place was packed. The people we thought we wouldn’t see again were staying there for nearo’s and zero’s and it was an all out party. The hostel itself was kinda neat, rustic and such, but I was peeved that the bunkhouses were full and we had to tent. To boot we had to pay the same price for tenting as if we were in the bunkhouse. Probably one of the most rotten deals on the trail. The food itself was serve yourself and on an honor system.
Some of those people in the photos, I don’t know what happened to them. Did they finish or get off?
We left out of the hostel late in the morning, nearly lunch time, and it was blazing hot. No leaves on the trees yet so the sun was shining brilliantly and warming things up. The climb out of the gap and up Snowbird Mtn was brutal because of the heat.
We originally planned on staying a campsite near a forest road but decided to push on to Max Patch bald for the night even though we’d started so late in the day. We stopped a few times to rest and get water.
At this shelter we met up with Willie and Pirate, two, I guess you could call them trail rats? Similar to mall rats? Just two older fellas who bounce up and down the trail for varying lengths of time; they’d already thru-hiked before, maybe even more than once. We ran into them again once we got to Damascus; they were helping out at the hostel there.
Max Patch was an awesome place. Prior to going up the hill we saw water trail magic, a jug of water left by a trail angel, but it was already empty. Once we got on top we saw there were several others who decided to camp out on top as well.
The next morning the hiking was pretty easy. We cruised downhill for a good while and had two climbs for the day.
Just before this gap we ran into our first ‘southbounder’, but it was really a southbounder from ’09 who was completing his hike since he had gotten snowed out at Roan Mtn in the Fall. I remember thinking that I was slightly jealous that he was almost done with his hike and we were just beginning.
That night we decided to stealth outside of Hot Springs, NC so that we could get into town super quick for breakfast. We had received a giftcard from a friend to a bed and breakfast and we were looking forward to having a hot tub and a fluffy bed to lay our head on.
Hot Springs is a very tiny town; you can walk to one end and back to the other in just a few minutes. We poked our head in the small shops, went to the outfitter, did our laundry before heading to the b&b.
I know we took several baths in the whirpool hot tub! oh, it was delightful to soak our muscles and relax. Originally I said that we should do that every 500 miles, but we ended up saving our money and stayed at hostels or cheap motels.
More good food at the Ironhorse Station restaurant. It was a good thing we stayed in town that day because it decided to rain all day. We left Hot Springs after lunch the following day and had a beautiful day of hiking.
Next time: Hot Springs to Erwin, followed by Erwin to Damascus. Then we’ll break up Virginia into at least three sections!