March 31, 2000

Hot Springs, NC 3 Miles Hiked Today 271 of 2167 Miles Hiked Total

Hot Springs, NCHiked in this morning to call Whitney and surprise her but it didn't work out (long story), and since things weren't open I spent hours calling people to catch up, it felt good.

Spent the rest of the day doing "chores" like going to the post office, grocery store, outfitters (new socks, repair tape, waterproof spray), laundry, water-proofing, cleaning equipment, etc. I also ate a big lunch and dinner w/ trail mates. Lunch with Dirk and dinner with Che, Moxy, Kerosene Charlie, and Zoom. I also, at dinner, met some other guys from Texas, which is rare. Most people that hike the trail are from near the trail.

One thing that I am realizing is how much news travels up and down the trail. The registers in the shelters capture a lot and so do meetings in town. For instance, Zoom got word in the registers where I was staying and found me and word was passed south that the Jesuit House (a hostel) was/is closed for renovation. Word of mouth works also as people of faster walking speeds pass by people or people taking zero days are passed and give word to others. You definitely don't want to get a bad reputation as word will get around and you never know when you may rely on others for food, water, information, a ride, a room, a shower, a buck, etc. It really is a micro-culture of sorts among the hikers. Like an extended family, you may not really know each other (or even like each other), but you still lend a hand or feel a responsibility. Not having that extended relationship/family connection will be a big change upon returning to the "normal" world.

By the way, this town isn't the greatest. For hikers it is okay, but I wouldn't vacation here. Most places don't take credit cards and hotels don't have phones, but the people are generally nice. Heck, the outfitter accepted a package for me that they shouldn't have so I could get it. "America" still exists.

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