We woke up early, and quickly set to packing up our sleeping bags.  Many consider Hot Springs to be a vortex, continually sucking in hikers no matter how much they would like to get going again.  I seem to think it was the rain that kept most hikers from heading out, but the hospitality toward hikers also contributed to the hesitation to head out again. 

BUT, nonetheless, the time finally came for us to head out of Hot Springs.  We are different people than when we arrived.  The people we met, the conversations that we had, the memories that we made… they have each impacted our lives, for the better. 

We said our farewells to Sherpa, Kanga and Roo, as well as to Jeff.  Our lives are better for having met each of them. 

We had to stop one more time at the Outfitter to get Taylor a new pad for the trail.  No matter how hard we have tried to repair his sleeping pad, it was a fruitless effort.  So, with as soon as that item was checked off of our list, we were on our way… crossing over the flooding French Broad River.  

It rained so much that the river was lapping right up onto the trail.  

Though time spent in town offers a great and necessary respite from the trail, it is always nice to get moving forward again.  We lost a day, so we knew we would have to really exert energy to make up the miles.  The reality of leaving town is that you are always always going to be hiking UPhill out of town.  SO, up we went. It is good to be on the trail again.

The views of Hot Springs and the river from the top of the mountain were stunning. 

When we started our hike a month and a half ago, the trees were bare.  Everything was open and vast… now the “green wall” has sprung to life.  Everything looks so different, and so beautiful.  Varying shades of green have replaced the shades of grey that greeted us when we began to hike.   Life is springing forth from every crevice.  And just as life is beginning to come forth from the ground, we are coming back to life as well. 

Our journey along the physical terrain of the trail is paralleling so much with what is going on in each of us.  As we gain strength to climb the mountains, we are gaining the strength to share the hard things that we have experienced in life.  As we gain the courage to press on faster, and to trust our legs as we climb, we are gaining the courage to share the depths of our hearts, and trust eachother to listen and care for our hearts.  Each day, I see more and more evidence of life returning to the deadened and numbed parts of our souls.  It can be seen physically in the light returning to our eyes, and can be heard in the tone we use when speaking to one another and in the more frequent and authentic laughter that makes its way from deep within us.  We have come a long way… but we still have far to travel.  Our hope that this is what we all need is renewed with each passing day, and our resolve to continue this journey is only made stronger with each victory moment.  It is beautiful. 

The trail offers love, if you will just keep your eyes open… Do you see the heart within this fallen log?  Sometimes the trail is just so rutty, so rocky, so defined by roots, that you have no choice but to look down and watch where you are placing your feet with each and every step… when that is the case, we spend time taking in the beauty of the flowers that are starting to bloom, neatly framing the trail, gently leading you onward. And sometimes, the fallen trees offer something interesting to take in.

We passed through so many different kinds of terrain and scenery… Forests and fields, lakes and streams…

The kids found a place full of clay… And played with it, making balls and plates and bowls.  Little did we know that the time playing in that clay would heal around on Riley’s hand.

We made our way to Spring Mountain Shelter, and made dinner.  We are thankful that our new JetBoil stove arrived… dinner was done in only a few minutes.  We cleaned up our dishes, hung the bear bags, sprawled out our sleeping bags, covered our packs with rain covers… and fell asleep… at hiker midnight (aka sundown).

Happy Trails ~ The Thru Crew

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