It rained on and off all night long.  We knew that we were so close to civilization and shelter, so we woke up early to pack up our tents and get headed down the mountain into Hot Springs, North Carolina. 

The scenery is changing so quickly.  Before our very eyes, the evidence of spring is coming forth.  

The trees above are dripping with all shades of green.  Flowers and ferns are springing forth from the earth.  We have never experienced spring in this manner.  Life is beginning to overshadow death, and the beauty is overwhelming.

Have you ever seen such a crazy shaped leaf? Like many arms waving to say hello, this leaf spreads itself wide.  Have you ever seen the new birth of a fern?  As if they are waking from a deep sleep, they come from the earth coiled up and begin to stretch their arms toward the sun, slowly releasing their tightly wrapped leaves.  

Ryan and I, as usual were bringing up the rear of the packs.  We are in awe of how strong each of the kids have become.  Daily, they can push farther, faster.  So fast in fact, that toay, we never caught up with Ava and Kole.  There was a moment, however, that we both began to worry.  We had passed a fork in the trail, and hoped that they had followed the white blazes.  We would not find relief for our anxious hearts until we reached Hot Springs.

Looking back at our first day on the trail, when we breathlessly arrived at the tent site having only hiked 4.4 miles, we are amazed we were able to hike like 12.8 miles.  We stepped off at 8:00 am and arrived at 2:00 pm.  Kole and Ava arrived at least 30 minutes prior to us. 

We are staying at The Hostel at Laughing Heart. All of us are sharing a bunk room, complete with a TV and DVD player.  Oh, the things that can make us feel like we are really home. 
The kids quickly found the electrical outlets to charge their devices.  We picked up our packages.  This week the Testerman Family sent our box of goodies.  Shower items, laundry soap, jellybeans, and PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOALTE BROWNIES!!!  What?  And a bunch of other yummy treats.  Thank you so much!  Grammy Owen also sent a box with more yummy treats that we shared with the other hungry hikers sitting on the front porch, as well as some much needed med kit items.  (We lost ours somewhere… It’s amazing we haven’t somehow left behind all of our items.)

This is a great little hostel!  We all took nice hot showers, and put on clean clothes (there is a hiker closet to borrow clothes from if you need something to wear while your clothes are being washed.).  And yes, for a small fee, we were able to get our laudry washed for us, while we went out to dinner.  

Jeff, the caretaker, picked up on the fact that Zoey loves to sing.  While we were getting settled he introduced her to the karaoke setup.  She was simply in heaven.  Soon, Ava and Kole joined her.

We headed over to the Smoky Mountain Diner.  Simply delicious!!!  The portions were huge, the service was excellent, and the process were fair. This restaurant feels a little like the theme song from Cheers, when it states “everyone knows your name”.  This little town is packed with hikers right now!  

We came back from dinner just in time to join in on the hikers karaoke evening!  It was simply a blast!  As a family, we all sang the Bare Necessities from the movie, Jungle Book.  Never in million years would you have witnessed this kind of joyful buffoonery from the Owen Family before this adventure.  Now, we seize the opportunity to make memories with one another, even if they are at times about silly!

* If you want to see the video of us singing… You’ll have to go to over to our Facebook page. * Be sure to like us and follow us, while you are there.

Thanks for following this wild crazy adventure of ours! ~ The Thru Crew 

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