Day 24 – Hot Springs to Little Laurel Shelter

19.6 miles, 52,528 steps, 676 stories climbed

302.8 miles, 841,264 steps, 8233 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 14
Another nice hiking day. Got up a bit later then I have the past few days but was still on the trail just after 8am
  
The hike started with me going through Hot Springs until just after the big bridge over the river and then the trail followed the river for a bit.  For some reason the radio station in my head decided to tune to Human Behavior by Bjork. An interesting selection, having not heard it in a while but certainly not a bad one at all.
  
There were a number of tents set up by the river, not sure if they were hikers, campers or people actually living there. One of them stopped me for a bit to talk to me about my pack, the Osprey Exos 58, since it is by far the most commonly used backpack on the AT. After a brief discussion with him I was once again on my own for a while.
   

 

Not long after my discussion with the man did the trail turn away from the river and start a steep climb up.  On the corner of one of the first switchbacks there was a box of granola bars for hikers to take. Being that I already had an over abundance of food, I decided to leave them all for the next hikers.
  
Later on in the trail I came across something I think most people up north will be happy about…signs of Spring!!!  A few flowers blooming along the trail got me a little excited for the months to come.
  
Later on in the day I came across a fork in the trail. One way lead forward and the other to a lookout tower.  You know, it’s a funny thing but as a thru-hiker we have all decided to hike almost 2200 miles and yet when we see a side trail of 0.2 miles, we’re usually like “nope, that’s too damn far”.  I took about a minute before deciding to take the side trail and climb the tower and I was glad I did.  360° view of mountains and even someone wishing me a happy birthday, albeit a year to early but I still appreciated it.
   

 

Not too much further after the tower I started to notice the smell of smoke and could see the smoke in the distance. Little did I know I would end up walking through it.
The forest service had started a series of controlled burns to prevent wildfires and they were right along the trail. I was literally walking right next to a fire. The smoke burned my eyes a bit and started to give me a small headache…as well as make me crave barbecue, damn hiker appetite.
   

 

A few miles later and I come to a road and a man by the road that looks like he’s trying to drink water from the stream through some sort of filter with a straw.  As I get closer I notice that he isn’t drinking water and that the tube I thought was a straw had a French Horn mouthpiece attached to it.  I asked him about it and he was surprised I knew what it was.  
Now for those of you that don’t know, when I went into the Marines as a musician, the French Horn was my instrument.  Him and I spoke for about 15 minutes about music and horns. He attaches the tube to the mouthpiece to add some back pressure to better simulate playing an actual horn.  Turns out he plays in both the National Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera.
After that, it was the last push to the shelter. A steep uphill at the end of another long day. The shelter is pretty crowded, with a bunch of new faces as well as some old familiar ones like Not Yet, Axon and Shrugs who all came from Hot Springs with me.
Now, time to try and eat the heaviest items I have so I don’t have to carry them tomorrow. Rumor has it tomorrow will be a cold and wet day so I’m glad I got a high mileage day today and tomorrow I can take it a bit easier if need be.
By the way, I now have less than 1900 miles to go!!! 

 

3 thoughts on “Day 24 – Hot Springs to Little Laurel Shelter

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