Hot Springs is another milestone on the trail as it’s the first town you actually walk down Main Street as part of the trail. It is also home of a great outfitter, several grocery stores, and a few motels and hostels as well as some great restaurants.
I got up at about 6:15 and in the narrow cove that I was in it was still very dark at that time. I packed up and was off hiking before 7:00 a.m. in the dark. I had to use my headlamp for about 15 minutes of hiking just to make sure I didn’t trip over any rocks or roots.
The terrain in this section of the trail is pretty level and it was easy hiking for the first two hours. There were only two mountains to climb Walnut Mountain and Bluff Mountain. The top of Walnut Mountain was a grassy field and there were several people camped out in tents on top. I must have passed at least four or five tents by 9:30 in the morning and every single one of them was still asleep. Don’t they know this is the best time to hike?
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful I saw very few other hikers. Water was plentiful in the first half of the day but a little bit scarce in the second half of the day so I stopped whenever I could find some just to make sure I didn’t run out trying to make it into town.
Once I realized I was making good progress towards town I looked up the hours of the post office and found out that they closed at 4:00 p.m. based on my current speed. I was going to get into town right at exactly 4:00 p.m. I decided to try to pick up the pace a little to see if I could get there before they closed. With only about a mile left of town I realized I was going to be 5 or 10 minutes late so then I eased off the pace a little bit and ended up getting into town at about 4:15.
The town is pretty much the same as I remember it. This is one place that Karen and I go back to every few years either to hike, go tubing, or just to hang out around the town. The first order of business was finding a place to sleep. I decided to just try the Alpine Court Hotel since it was right in the center of town. There was no one at the office. They just had a telephone number to call and they would give you the combination to a lock that would get the key to your room. It was a very weird tele hotel experience but I got a room so I’m happy.
What I am not happy about is the laundromat in town apparently closed about 7 years ago. I have a lot of stinky laundry and would really like to wash them. The few particularly offensive items I washed in the sink and hope they’ll be dry enough to wear tomorrow. If not I’ll keep wearing the same stinky stuff again tomorrow.
The cell service in town is horrible. I can barely get one bar and there is no data service at all. The hotel Wi-Fi seems to be broken but the information center works fine but I have to walk down the street to use that Wi-Fi.
Most of the restaurants are still open but half of them closed. My favorite one on the creek was still open and I got a table and was able to get a burger, chicken wings, and a beer. It was way better than mashed potatoes.
I was able to get what I needed as far as resupply at the outfitters but I will have to go to the grocery store to get cookies. I don’t know why but I’ve been craving cookies lately. And I would probably vomit if I had to eat another Frito. But for now it’s off to sleep until the stores open at 9:00 a.m. and I can finish my town chores.