Day 27 – Uncle Johnny’s Hostel to a stealth site right past Beauty Spot

So about last night. After I posted (from the tap room) hilarity ensued. We ended up forming a trivia team (Serenity Now! – our captain, T-bone, is a huge Seinfeld fan), losing badly, taking an unscheduled shuttle trip to Bojangles (hiker hunger is real!) where we heard stories of accepting hitches from kidnappers and then hanging with some of the locals at the hostel who’d been drinking (hard) since we’d left. A grand time was had by all!

Today we started moving around 6:45. There were several rounds of rain that came through last night which made quite a racket on the metal roof of our cabin. I was a little worried about my heel so was doing some 4 am doom scrolling on WebMD 😞. All in all I didn’t get the best nights sleep even though we were in real beds and indoors (me for the first time in 10 days). The cold brew and donuts we got at the store the night before helped to solve that in short order.

One problem with staying at a hostel, is your stuff goes everywhere. To be sure, pack explosions are a regular part of getting to camp each night, but somehow the confined space of a room (and a porch) makes the blast radius larger. So it took us a bit to get packed up but we were on our way a little after 8.

We’d heard from one of our fellow trivia team members (who’d been nearly struck by lighting the day before…trail name = bolt) that the climb was no joke. That combined with the weather forecast (rain, thunderstorms, cats and dogs living together) and for me personally worries about my heel had us focused.

Good news that the first 5-6 miles went by pretty easily, with a short walk through town, crossing the train tracks (just as a train cleared) and then a climb up alongside a (very full) waterfall / stream. We stopped briefly at the shelter a little over 4 miles in so I could dry my feet a little and met Willy and his two dogs, a local who through hiked in 2019. He piled on to those that have already encouraged me to just keep going and finish :-).

A couple miles / an hour or so past the shelter it started to drizzle and pretty quickly transitioned to full on rain. Remembering the storm from a few days ago, I went ahead and stopped to put on my rain jacket – ended up being a good call. As we climbed the rain got harder and calmed down in cycles and even stopped a few times.

But as we got closer to Beauty Spot, a bald on a 4k mountain top, there started to be more and more thunder and a few flashes of visible lightening. We decided to hole up under my tarp at a stealth spot where someone else had already setup their tent and wait it out. In the hour or so that we were there, we made lunch while the lightening got closer. It was never on top of us, but was 4-5 seconds from the flash to the thunder for a few. Close enough, especially after “Bolt’s” experience.

It had been at least 30 mins from the last nearby thunder or lightning when we crossed over Beauty Spot. It was still raining though and after sitting for so long, we were both pretty cold, so when we got to the water and nearby campsite on the other side we decided to settle here for the night, 2-3 miles short of our initial plan.

We strung our tarps just before it started to rain again, then got our hammocks hung and went through the rest of the pack explosion process (rain protocol in effect so everything goes under the tarp). I got into some dry clothes (apologies to the TH getting water if you saw anything you’d have preferred not to..didn’t know you were there 😝) and climbed into my hammock for what I assumed would be continued rain and storms. And then…the sun came out!

Unlike the storm followed by sun a few days ago, it didn’t really warm up. But it was nice to be able to hang some things to (partially) dry, hang bear bags and cook dinner without more rain. Forecast for tonight calls for some more storms.

Plan for tomorrow is to get up early and get to our shuttle pickup at noon back to Hot Springs. Since I’m still relatively close to home, I’m going to take a zero there Friday, then get back on trail Saturday with a shuttle from Damascus to where we get off tomorrow. From there it’s a little over 100 miles in 7 days to get to trail days!






3 responses to “Day 27 – Uncle Johnny’s Hostel to a stealth site right past Beauty Spot”

  1. Shawn Upchurch Avatar
    Shawn Upchurch

    The adventure continues. Thanks so much for letting me live it vicariously. BTW – I’m curious about your trail name. Picked one up yet?

    1. Chris Avatar

      Yep – Slider.

  2. Dennis Avatar

    Hope you don’t have webbed feet from being in all that water. Take care son.

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