Last day on the trail

Tuesday started with a huge breakfast at Sunnybank.

While Elmer made omelets, Carter, the dog, watched closely from the sitting room across the hall from the kitchen.

When the chimes sounded we gathered together once more in the dinning room to feast.

After breakfast K2 and I packed up and settled up. Then we set out from the downtown trail heading north from Hot Springs for an out-and-back hike to mile 279.3 on the AT. This last trek of 9.6 miles would put me over 200 miles of hiking during my sabbatical.

Once the trail turned off the town road, it followed the French Broad River.

The trail left the river and took us up Lovers Leap Rock through some prime tent camping and through Pump Gap. Then the trail led us to a curious spring-fed pond, which also featured a helicopter pad.

We sat on a wooden bench to eat our last trail lunch before turning back to Hot Springs. The roughly ten-mile hike felt short compared to the 20+ mile hike the day before.

As we traveled southbound on the AT we handed the northbound thru-hikers heading to Maine fun-sized Snickers and Milkyway candy bars – a bit of trail magic. Here’s a pic of Caveman wearing his EMS pack in front of the pond…

The temps climbed into the upper 60sF as we headed back toward the Lovers Leap outcropping and the views of Hot Springs over the French Broad River.

From the trail we walked to the modest Hot Springs Resort and Spa. After we checked into our room, we promptly filled the heart-shaped hot tub with hot mineral water – from the springs that put Hot Springs on the map. Perfect end to 200 miles of hiking!

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