Some days are filled with grand vistas, and some days are just a walk in the woods. It appears that I have arrived at the walk in the woods portion, and I’m certain that there will be many more days like this.
The A.T. Is often referred to as the “Green Tunnel,” and I’m beginning to get a sense of what that means. Starting yesterday, and continuing today, I have walked through some of the longest rhododendron tunnels I have yet experienced. In a way, the tunnels are nice because it has become very warm in the lower elevations, and the tunnels provide some relief from the sun.
Occasionally, however, I did come across a few rocky outcroppings that provided a much appreciated view of what was around me. But mostly, this section alternates between the rhododendron covered pathway and the wide open, and still leafless, hardwood forest.
Today, by design, was a short day of hiking to get me to Dennis Cove Road. Since the road had my name on it, I knew I had to explore it. Leaving the trail, I took a 0.4 mile road walk along a beautiful country road and stream (probably a branch of the Laurel Fork) and soon arrived at the Black Bear Resort, where I intended to spend the night.
When I checked in, I asked the nice lady at the desk if they provided any shuttles to town. When I left Mountain Harbor Hostel in a food stupor, I left behind my bag of toiletries and needed to get another toothbrush, etc. She told me that they did not, but that if I didn’t mind staying in town for a while, she had to take her kids to the Orthodontist and she would be happy to give me a lift. I immediately accepted her gracious offer.
The town of Hampton, TN, has a Subway, McDonald’s, Dunkin Doughnut’s, and a Dollar General. Basically, it was a thru-hikers dream! Rather than eat at one of the big chains, I found a tiny roadside stand that advertised “The Best Philly Cheesesteak in the South,” and decided to test their claim. Since I haven’t had EVERY Philly Cheesesteak sandwich in the south (yet), I can’t conclusively validate their claim, but it was pretty darn good.
After satisfying my food needs, I got my supplies from Dollar General and headed to McDonald’s to use their wifi in an (unsuccessful) attempt to upload some pictures for the blogs. It didn’t seem right to use their wifi without buying something, so a strawberry sundae and a gallon of Poweraid helped to assuage my guilt. Just prior to me coming unglued by my inability to upload my pictures, the lady from the hostel arrived to give me a ride back to the land of no cell service.
Black Bear Resort is family owned and they purchased it six years ago after it sat vacant for two years. After doing extensive renovations, they have converted it to a wonderful property with several cabins, a hostel, tenting space, and a few RV slots. They also hold one of three beer licenses in the county, so after finishing my laundry chores, I had a seat on the front porch to enjoy the conversation and a cold one.
As the sun was going down, Boo Boo, Toodles, and Maple unexpectedly walked in. I hadn’t seen them in several days and it was so good to be reunited again. I knew they were several miles behind me, but apparently my text to Boo Boo telling him that if he made it to Black Bear that I would buy him a beer gave him the motivation to put in the extra miles. After such a long day, Boo Boo ate two large pizzas, finishing off with a Klondike Bar, for a 2,300 calorie dinner. It is good to have him back!