May 13 - Leaving Hot Springs
Leaving town is always hard but not as hard as saying good-bye to a trail friend. Bonjour was done his section and it was time for him to go home. We'd hiked together and bunked together for more than a week and I must admit I had gotten used to his company and his stories. We share a similar philosophy of life and have many interests in common. I'm going to miss him. Thank you, Wes, for helping me out and showing me how to do things better. I really appreciate it. I hope we can hike together again some day.
This is one of the sad realities of the trail. You meet really super people, hike together for a time, share stories and interests and even secrets but soon it must come to an end. It's the way of the trail. Sad, really, but there it is. Reality.
MacGyver and I headed out of town, crossing the French Broad River, hopped the rail on the far side and descended to the water's edge and then walked up river a piece past several rapids before starting the climb out of the canyon. There are two white water rafting outfits in Hot Springs.
A half hour later we were on Lover's Leap Lookout looking down on the town below. One last look and we turned north heading away from the river and left Hot Springs in the rear view mirror.
It was a good day for hiking - cool and sunny. On the north and west sides of the mountains, we felt the chill of cool air on sweaty skin but on the leeward side, we felt the warm sun peeking through ever increasing numbers of leaves and brush. The trail was dry and walking was easy. We made good time.
My new shoes felt loose but I didn't want to over tighten them like I did the last pair which I think helped stretch them out prematurely. I felt some rubbing on my left ankle bone and switched insoles after two hours. I had started with the old insoles. It was a case of six of one vs. half a dozen of another. The old insoles compress and lower the foot and cause the ankle rubbing. But they cushion the ball of the foot. The new (factory) insoles prevent rubbing but don't cushion as well. Superfeet insoles, which everyone swears by, hurt my insteps too much. Maybe I should use half of each?
We hiked to the first shelter, our minimum distance for the day at about 11 miles, and called it a day. We set up on a ridge overlooking the shelter area and except for moderate winds, it is a good spot. I have the fly pitched low to shelter me from the wind but I still feel it. No bugs but it might get a bit chilly overnight. I'm done dinner, the food is hung, and I'm in the hammock contemplating putting on my fleece shirt. It's only 6:15 p.m. The temp is 15C. I'm done for the day. A woodpecker is hunting for his dinner at a tree about 30 feet from me. Noisy bugger. :)