Day 29: May 13, 2022 Laughing Heart to Allen Gap Elevation Profile +4774/-3690 15.1 Miles; Total 289.7 Miles

The souls of my feet are talking to me. The rest of my body is adapting to hiking fairly well. Legs are strong, my lungs are expanding as they should, my butt is recovering but my feet are aching every afternoon! Climbing up and down, around and over, mile after mile, my feet are pretty upset with me! Usually taking my shoes off, some elevation, rest, and Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) make them feel somewhat better.

First Hiker out of Hot Springs

Blue and I left Laughing Heart Hostel before the crack of dawn. We knew the long day ahead and the big plans we made. We have collectively decided sleeping in a bunkhouse with four others is not our cup of tea. Next time, we will pitch our tents and sleep on the lawn. It provides much better rest and less noise. Little sleep makes big miles and climbs tough.

White Blaze to Keep us Sleepy Hikers on Trail

We walked through town again, and headed up the awaiting trail. Climbing a thousand feet for breakfast is what we do best! The trail followed the river for a moment before it broke off and headed up and over the surrounding hills of Hot Springs. We had some incredible views looking back into town, and the ridge line that bordered it.

Overlooking Hot Springs

Before long, a Dad with two teenagers passed me. They were day hikers and moving pretty quick. A bit later, Mom caught up with me. I asked if she was with the boys ahead. Ends up they are The Prince Family from New Jersey. They devised a plan ten years ago that they would hike the Appalachian Trail over a twelve year period. To date they have covered close to 1800 miles. Today they were hiking to Allen Gap, some 15 miles and another twenty miles tomorrow. They have a younger daughter, who hasn’t bought into the hiking plan, so she typically stays with Grandma while the rest of the family tics off the miles. The oldest boy was accepted to Purdue University and for his entrance application, he wrote about hiking the Appalachian Trail with his family. I’m sure that was a wonderful introduction to the school administrators of what this student could accomplish.

The Prince’s with Me

Around lunchtime there was a Fire Lookout Tower atop Rich Mountain. It was just a bit off trail but I had to check it out. The Prince Family had just come down from it and highly recommended going to see it. I was in. Blue was undecided but after some pursuing, she joined me for the extra credit miles. Oh, we both were so glad. What a stunning sight of Virginia in the foreground and rolling hills of Tennessee. It was the nicest of all the towers I’ve climbed to date. Constructed of metal with handrails! This tower was definitely OSHA approved. We had lunch and talked with George, as there was a cell tower within spitting distance.

Rich Mountain Fire Lookout Tower

Once down from the tower, we headed back to the trail. A man with his Silver Lab stopped Blue and I and told us of a Mama Bear and her cubs that were up in a tree. We walked on, making noise and Blue clacking her walking sticks. Sure enough another thru-hiker had stopped. He pointed out the Bear and her Cubs that were some 70-75’ up the tree. Another lesson learned…you can never ever out climb a bear! We walked passed them pretending we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Don’t look behind the curtain, as they say! That Mama Bear looked so uncomfortable as she hung on for dear life in the V of the tree. The baby cubs seemed more at ease than mama, that’s for sure!

Mama Bear and Her Cubs

The rest of the day was a hard sell to my aching feet. There was much elevation change with constant ups and downs. I started complaining to myself, which just sets me up for Satan to overtake my thoughts. So I turned to my IPod for some direction. Joyce Meyers has a whole series on “Is Your Mouth Saved?” This was just what I needed to hear. She spoke about the Chosen People, the Israelites and how they wandered in the desert for forty years. It was a journey they should of completed in a month or two, but they were constantly complaining to the Lord. Well we all know how that goes. It really put me in my place and reminded me the more I complain, the more I remain. When we praise God for our circumstances, we are raised! I had to apologize for myself and realize that there are many who could only dream of walking fifteen miles in a day! And here I am hiking this incredible trail, seeing the beauty around me and feeling the wind on my back. What in the world do I have to complain about?

Another Beautiful Day on Trail – Before the Rain

By late afternoon, Blue and I arrived at Allen Gap. The sky opened up, and the torrential rain that was forecasted arrived. As luck would have it, my Vorlage Ski Club friends from California moved to North Carolina last year. Karise and her daughter Noelle picked us up and rescued Blue and I from the impending doom of rain all weekend. And that’s how our mighty God works!

On Top of the World

We headed to Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Asheville. Oh my goodness! The entire wall is covered with beer taps. Where do you start? Karise recommended a Green Man IPA which was exceptionally good! We ordered pizza to go and had a beer while we were waiting. Pizza, Beer, bath and a bed. What else could I desire?

Beer Taps of the World

This was the perfect ending to a week of long miles with tons of elevation gains and losses. Blue and I concurred that we should stay the entire weekend. For the first time since I stepped foot on the trail, I plan to take a double zero. Two days off from hiking. That’s heaven sent! Thanks Sigworth’s for the hospitality and the friendship. Here’s to kicking up my feet up and relaxing. No more complaining.

Karise, Blue and I at Mellow Mushroom Pizza

““I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ””
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭16:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

3 thoughts on “Day 29: May 13, 2022 Laughing Heart to Allen Gap Elevation Profile +4774/-3690 15.1 Miles; Total 289.7 Miles

  1. This hike sounds tough at times but look at all the fun you are having stopping in small towns meeting new and old friends, drinking beer and eating pizza – not quite like the PCT – soak it all in and safe travels. Love and hugs💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was such a pleasure to meet you on the trail Friday! We appreciate you including our story in your blog. Our ten year journey has been very much inspired by the thru-hikers we have met along the way. Look us up if you need anything when you hit NJ!

    Liked by 1 person

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