Day 27
Flint Mountain Shelter - Low Gap
14.9 miles

We got an early start this day and hustled down the trail, to be able to get lunch in town.  We made it to the town crossing road, but still had 4 miles to get us to the store for re-supply and the cafe for lunch.  We started walking, and expected to see many cars that might give us a ride into town.  We walked about a half mile when the first car drove by.  We stuck our thumbs out and got a ride from a fellow hiker, Michael.  He dropped us at the store for re-supply and we stocked up again.  We also learned from the store clerk that the cafe was closed, so we got some lunch at the store.  As we were finishing up our lunch, we struck up a conversation with another store patron.  He began telling us about the rest of the hike for that day, and offered us a ride back to the trailhead.  We headed back to the trailhead and had a nice talk with a hiker friend's, Mercury, dad.  We continued on the trail and camped that night with some of our trail buddies, Detroit, Screaming Eagle, and Mercury.

Day 26
Allen Gap - Flint Mountain Shelter
17.5 miles

Was a good hiking day, we got an early start and went for it.  There was a challenging section on the fairly moderate terrain today, Big Firescald Knob.  It was a rocky and steep area with great views.  We also met a very friendly and fun lady, Sharon Southall, from Pennsylvania, who we had a nice talk with.  We hope to see you up in Pennsylvania, Sharon!  We hiked with a lot of familiar faces this day, some of our hiking buddies - Detroit, Screaming Eagle, Mercury, Splinter and Bruce.  It was a fun night at the shelter, talking and sharing stories over the campfire.  Everyone was excited when Screaming Eagle brought out his bag of marshmallows to share.  We ate roasted marshmallows and tucked ourselves in for the night.

Day 25
Hot Springs, NC - Allen Gap
18.8 miles

We were excited to hike out of Hot Springs today because we've done a few miles of this day's hike before.  We stopped by a pond, that had a bench overlooking it.  We ate a snack while the pups explored the pond.  It was a peaceful rest stop.  We continued on the trail and walked on a dirt road that overlooked a beautiful meadow and former site of a large farm.  2-Step loved the farm site and was tempted to set up camp in this spot for the night.  We hiked past a busy road near Allen Gap, and continued on the trail to find a campsite.  We found one about a mile away from the road, set up camp and ate dinner.  At about 3AM, when we were both sound asleep, 2-Step woke up and heard footsteps come right through our campsite (we were the only ones camping there) and then walked away.  After the footsteps grew further from the campsite, they came back to our campsite, so 2-Step turned on her headlamp and started moving around.  The footsteps walked away, but 2-Step was a little spooked for the rest of the night.  I was snoring peacefully while this happened.

Day 24
Hot Springs, NC
0 miles

We woke up today in a clean hotel and got some coffee. We went shopping at Bluff Mountain Outfitters, got stamps at the post office, did our laundry, and headed to the library to update the blog, post pictures and get business in order.  We were in contact with 2-Step's parents, who were driving East from Durham, NC, coming from a graduation (2-Step's brother, Matt).  They planned to make a stop in Hot Springs to get dinner with us.  We tried to make our dealings at the library quick, but they dragged on and we decided to stay another night in Hot Springs, to be able to finish our business in town and to see 2-Step's parents.  We eventually finished at the library and waited for 2-Step's parents to arrive.  They arrived around 4PM and we had a nice dinner at the Spring Creek Tavern.  We got to show them some pictures, share some stories and went to the store to re-supply our food.  Her parents headed out of town and we headed to bed, to rest for the next day's hike.

Day 23
Roaring Fork Shelter - Hot Springs, NC
18 miles

Today was pretty miserable.  We got a late start again, and then it pretty much rained all day.  This was 2-Step's first real rain day and she understood why I freaked out every time I saw a grey cloud.  Needless to say, we got a little grumpy with each other and were more than happy to get to Hot Springs and find a place to stay that allowed dogs.  We ate dinner at the Spring Creek Tavern, next to our hotel.  We ordered our food and that first sip of a cold beer and bite of fried pickle was another moment when we experienced tears of joy.

Day 22
I-40 Underpass - Roaring Fork Shelter
15.9 miles

This was a pretty uneventful day.  We got a late start, but made it to camp before dark.  We crossed our first bald today.  We've been on and around Max Patch before, but if felt different coming through having hiked about 250 miles to get there.  It was a cloudy day, but there were a few sun rays coming through for some late afternoon photos.  The hike to the shelter was pretty mellow and mac & cheese was tasty.

Day 20 & 21
5/10/12 - 5/11/12
The Krift Family Cabin in Cosby, TN
0 miles

Since I'd gotten done a day early, we could have gotten back on the trail after the first zero day, but we were waiting on mail from 2-Step's parents.  Thanks for the beef jerky and other treats!  They were delicious while they lasted.  2-Step and I also had a chance to help out another hiker, Punchline, one of our friends from the trail.  I guess he had been trying to catch up with me in the Smokies but I had started a half a day ahead of him and we never saw each other.  He said he was following my posts in the shelter logs and had been asking people if they'd seen me, but it was always a few miles behind me.  He had my phone number, and so when he got out of the Smokies he gave me a call and we were able to give him a place to stay and dry out.  It was funny to talk about how miserable the Smokies had been, but still how enjoyable the experience has been so far.  Shout out to Punchline, although you might be off the trail now?  I hope we can meet up again when 2-Step and I get up to CT.

Hi, Guys! So great to see you in Damascus and look forward to the rest of your posts when you have time to get caught up. Hope VA is a breeze! Can't wait to meet up again. XO, L&T


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