Although packing up and carrying a wet tent is annoying, I do like the sound of rain on my tent while I sleep. Last night was surprisingly warm so I didn’t have to hide my head in my sleeping bag the whole time. I slept pretty well, waking up less times than usual, and didn’t roll out of bed until 9. It was sunny and warm already so I knew the day would be good. The Sunshine Gang was making bacon and eggs for breakfast too so we hung around a while, eventually leaving around 10:30.
Side note: We have been keeping pace with a few guys from the warrior hikers – walkoffthewar.com. Check out the website and feel free to donate. They are an entertaining bunch.
There are so many people on this section of trail and the trees are so bare that it’s hard to find a good spot to go to the bathroom sometimes, and this morning we were dodging boy scouts too. So we were excited to get to the latrines in a parking lot 4 miles up, and they even had toilet paper in them. Warm sun and a latrine stocked with toilet paper – according to Stretch, “This is like heaven!”
We went a little farther up to Wayah Bald to hang out in the sun for lunch and dry out tents and rain gear. It was so gorgeous. There was a stone watch tower up there too, I think built by the CCC. The wind was picking up and cooling us off so we got going again. I was back and forth between short sleeves and long sleeves all day because of the wind. Without it, it was almost hot out.
We were unsure where we’d stop for the night because of the distance between shelters and there were no campsites listed either, so when we came into Burningtown Gap and saw a sign for a hostel that picked up at Tellico Gap, we were sold. We stopped at Rocky Bald on the way for fantastic views. The last downhill stretch into the gap was killer on my knees and feet.
We did 13.6 miles to Tellico and got picked up by Wiggy from the Aquone Hostel in a little beat up Saturn. He’s a British former thru hiker and he and his wife run the hostel. He was talking about how he got there so quickly but he doesn’t speed with other people in the car, and meanwhile he’s doing 30 down a twisty, one lane gravel road, and then at least 10 over the limit, straddling the yellow line once it was paved, all steep, twisty and downhill mountain roads. Hysterical.
It is a very nice hostel and they have a bunch of rules to keep it that way. Packs and shoes stay outside on a covered porch and only what you need gets brought inside. There’s a covered shed if you need to hang anything to dry. Shower immediately, and clean the shower when you’re done. There are signs all over the kitchen reminding people to clean up after themselves. It seems like a lot but it’s mostly common courtesy type things, and it really makes a difference as to how clean the place stays. It’s basically a big log cabin, but more luxury cabin than fishing cabin, and the hostel part has a really nice common area to hang out in. They do your laundry for you and return it folded. We grabbed some frozen pizzas, and mine was a rising crust one so I couldn’t even finish it. I was fading fast, which happens often when I’m clean and warm and dry, and especially with hot town food. Time for the very comfortable bed.