Standing Bear Farm (hostel) [mile 240.8]
I’ve fallen into hippieville! This is a strange, strange place.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Say it with me: We’re out of the freaking Smokies!
I got out of the shelter before 7 and was down and out of the park by noon. The day was brilliant—sunny and so warm that I was in a tee shirt at 7:30 and longing for my shorts by 8. (I was too lazy to stop and dig them out, though.) There were flowers! There were bugs!
It’s too soon to send the winter gear home. Last year they got snow on April 25, and that was a hot year.
Anyway. Leaving the park was anticlimactic. They didn’t even have a sign. But man, does it feel good to lose the noose! I can camp wherever again!
So let’s talk Standing Bear. I’ve heard mixed stuff about them—and all of it’s now confirmed. Some of the people are nice, and some are jerks. The farm is beautiful—antiques and cherry blossoms, with a generous smattering of stuff right out of the 60s. Vaughn Bode and Buddha and psychedelia, man! I used to hang with hippies; this is bona fide.
I’ve stepped directly into 1967. Except it’s not really the Summer of Love. It’s the grimy commune, feed your head 1967. With massive amounts of beer everywhere. And Lynrd Skynrd.
The place is full of hikers, as usual, including the Postman and DB Cooper and Fifteen. Safe people. Also a hiker I hadn’t met yet—Pound Puppy, whose luxuey item is a stuffed dog he’s using as a pillow. Pound Pippy’s feet are in terrible shape from doing big miles in wet boots through the Smokies.
Tomorrow, back on the trail. (I already did 1967 once; no need to repeat.) I’d like to go 15 miles, but I have a feeling this crowd isn’t going to be up early to settle up.
Would I recommend the place? No, not really. But it’s better than a Smokies shelter, that’s for sure! 🙂
Let’s put it this way: The first thing I heard on waking up and stepping outside was a hiker saying, “Look out for that puke, man. I almost stepped in it.” If that’s the kind of thing that appeals to you, there you go!