Day 33 – Camp site by Upper Laurel Fork creek to Black Bear hostel

Note to self: always camp by running water (creek, stream, brook, waterfall) if I have the chance. I slept amazing last night! Was out before 8 and woke up at first light, around 6:15. First order of business was breakfast from the hammock, then getting dressed (in my ever so slightly damp and cold hiking clothes) then packing up. That all took about an hour so I was on trail by 7:15. Earliest start yet!

My foot was a little sore in my heel to start, so I took it slow. I didn’t have any signal last night so was still going with the last forecast I had which called for rain around 2, so I was also racing the rain a little, trying to get to nearly 13 miles to the hostel before the rain.

I made it to the only shelter of the day around 10 at 7 miles in. There was one TH sitting there when I walked up and we talked a bit while I rested and snacked. His name was Bushwhack and he was a fellow Kentuckian (from Bowling Green) and also a UK alum (although at 23 a very recent one 😝). He was hanging out waiting for some friends to catch up so they could go into trail days together.

I pushed off around 10:30 and once up the hill, I finally got a bit of signal so posted yesterday’s update, texted a few folks back…and downloaded yesterday’s KSR 😃. Two hikers that I first ran into late at Doll Flats passed me on the way down (I think they also camped near laurel creek last night). I met up with them later at the hostel and their trail names are Bear Spray (he accidentally sprayed himself with his own bear spray in the smokies…he assures me if he were a bear it would stop him 😖) and Slim. They were both from upstate NY.

I ended up getting hit with the rain about an hour out from the hostel. There’s always a decision to make when it starts raining: will I get wetter in my rain gear (from sweat) than I will from the rain. It has a lot to do with temp, whether you’re climbing or descending and of course how hard it’s raining. It started as a drizzle and I hiked on. A few minutes later it was a solid rain and I stopped under a cluster of magnolias (nature’s umbrella) and donned my rain jacket.

After a short road walk I arrived at Black Bear hostel. It’s super nice – really good location and nice facilities. I grabbed a beer while waiting to check in…and that took so long I grabbed another 😂. I essentially had beer for lunch today. I went to my cabin, exploded my pack and pulled out everything that needed laundered. While things were washing I got a frozen pizza…and another beer. Once that was consumed it was time for drying and showering.

I spent the next few hours before the shuttle talking to the other hikers at the hostel. One hiker is running support for his wife and her friend after he had to get off trail after starting with them. Another TH from Germany (Gazelle) was trying to figure out the best way to make it to trail days in the next three days. A TH I first ran into right before mountain harbor and I traded lots of trail stories and a few recipes. A section hiker (Hiker Boy – also an ALDHA board member) talked about some of the other trails he’d been on besides the AT.

The shuttle for town left at 5:30. Four of us climbed in for the Mr Toad’s wild ride into Hampton TN. After a quick stop at McDonald’s (the only restaurant in town) we made a similarly quick stop at Dollar General (the only grocery store in town) and headed back to the hostel, arriving around 6:30.

Tomorrow there will be biscuits and the plan is for an 18+ mile day. There’s only one big climb and it’s first thing. Anything’s possible with biscuits.






4 responses to “Day 33 – Camp site by Upper Laurel Fork creek to Black Bear hostel”

  1. Alan Pickett Avatar
    Alan Pickett

    Even though I haven’t commented lately, I am continuing to enjoy your daily posts. Keep up the great reflections and photos, and congratulations on all the miles you have put in. I look forward to hearing about Trail Days.

  2. Michele Avatar

    Persistence is paying off😁

  3. Dennis Avatar

    Rain in the spring – heat in the summer. Wet no matter.
    Pix are great – still haven’t heard YOUR trail name yet , or I just missed it.

    1. Chris Avatar


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *