So, Hot Springs is full of bikers and hikers! Motorcycles everywhere. I wonder if they’re having some kind of bike fest or whether riders are just out enjoying the early spring weekend.
One thing’s for certain: this is a hikers’ town. Some of these little towns have tolerated hikers and some have solicited their business, but Hot Springs actively loves them!
I knew it yesterday when I walked into the fancy bed and breakfast (the Iron Horse) with the gorgeous hardwood floors and the boutique selling hand-dyed clothing and kimonos and woodwork and jewelry. I was a filthy, sodden, stinking mess. The manager was away fromher desk momentarily. I said to the woman out front, “I’ll just wait here. I don’t want to stomp mud all over your rug and your floors.” And she just smiled and said, “We’re right on the trail. We’re used to hikers here. Just come on in. Do you want a cup of coffee while you wait?” (And 50/50, thanks for the coffee!)
Turns out that lady thru-hiked in 2002. Broke her arm on the Pennsylvania rocks.
This town loves hikers so much that the trail goes right through it. And not only does the trail go right through it, but instead of white blazes the AT symbol is poured right into the sidewalks.
If you saw the AT movie Southbounders, this town was featured heavily. It’s funny walking through spots that I saw on film. It feels so… famous!
Anyway, it’s Saturday. There’s a flea market selling artisan jewelry and produce and plants and musical instruments. (Hot Springs also seems to love its music.) Everybody’s a character.
I’ve spent most of the day with hiker Chris from Tennessee. I can’t even tell you how many hikers are here, from how many bubbles. Outside Dog and Backtrack and Trouble and Blackhawk and Pound Puppy and RiskIt and Salad Days and Two Socks and DB Cooper and Fifteen… I even saw Hobo! He’s about a day ahead, but Mrs. Hobo picked him ip and they came here to spend the day together. There seems to be a lot of that here; it’s a beautiful little town for a day’s reunion. Dreamer is here, too! It was sad not to see Socks and their dog Charlie, though. (Socks had to leave the trail for a while after that knee injury.)
I got my new belt at the outfitters. Here’s a little bit of trail magic: When I stopped at the outfitter, the belt hadn’t arrived yet. They fixed me up anyway; then when I was leaving, the owner showed me what had come in today’s mail—the belt! Serendipity.
Speaking of trail magic, there’s actually a hiker’s ministry here. A man named Freddy has a little house. Hikers can come in and sit, get fed, get free wifi, chat… anything. It’s awesome! I left some stuff in their hiker box.
The only downside is that I’m not actually feeling very well. I’m having some lower (not upper) GI issues. I suspect it’s just the effects of a terrible diet and an influx of rich food and massive amounts of coffee. I’ve been treating my water religiously, and I’m not having any of the norovirus symptoms, so here’s hoping it’s just a passing blip. (There’s a big norovirus warning—a big outbreak affecting hikers in North Carolina and Tennessee.)
And there it is. Quiet, beautiful day!