Twinkling Lights

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Jan 25, 2012

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Friday, May 20, 2011

We made our way to an Appalachian Trail town, Hot Springs, NC.  This was where Mark started his 5-week hike on the trail nearly 20 years ago.  It hasn't really changed much in the past two decades.  The town consists of a one block main street with a couple of backpacker hostels, an outfitter, a few places to eat and buy local crafts, and a laundromat.  Everything a thru-hiker could want.  There are actual hot springs nearby and a small "resort" where people stayed in the early 1900's when visiting the therapeutic waters.

We asked about good camping spots in the nearby National Forest at the outfitters and got a really great suggestion.  We drove out of town a few miles, crossed over the AT and headed up a hill to a truly breathtaking campsite overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There was already a fire ring at this site, and we gathered downed firewood nearby.  The sun set over the mountains and as night fell, the fireflies came out.  They were attracted to the sparks from our fire, and we saw several around our site.  That prompted us to walk down into a nearby field, where hundreds, if not thousands, of fireflies were twinkling around.  It was a beautiful evening and a really special experience.  Although we were limiting our activities a bit to give Mark some time to recover (although probably not enough), we were still having the trip of a lifetime.  Tonight was particularly magical.

We took our time the next morning before heading back into town for lunch. The Iron Horse Saloon was a great place for a meal and must be a nice respite for thru hikers.  However, a giant bus load of folks arrived while we were finishing up our lunch.  That prompted us to move on to less populated pastures.  Fortunately, the AT is just up the street, so we took the puppies for a nice walk in the woods.  What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.  Mark was careful not to overdo it, so he headed back early.  Those puppies certainly know who their master is.  Neither wanted to keep moving forward without him.  But, the lure of time off the lease and several prompts from me finally convinced them to continue heading north without Mark.

After our hike, we continued on to Asheville to meet up with a fellow racer from the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge that Mark did last year.

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