We woke up excited to make our way to Sams Gap.  We knew that Miss Janet was going to be picking us up and taking us to town.  Though we had more miles to hike, we had to make it to town to meet up with friends in Erwin, so we opted to leave the trail Thursday night so that we could get to town to clean up, do laundry and get organized before a weekend of fun with friends. 

We packed up the tents pretty quickly.  We ate bars for breakfast, and treated the kids to Starbucks Chia Lattes with their breakfast bars.  They really enjoyed the hot drinks first thing in the morning.  Mornings are still brisk, thought the days warm quickly. 

Pigpen, Shutterbug and the seven of us stepped out onto the trail.  We hadn’t been on the trail long when I stumbled across this tiny graveyard.  I stood there for several moments trying to read clearly the dates that Dorothy Hensley was born and died. 

I think that she was born in May 1865, however the date that she died is a harder to determine.  She either died in 1965 or 1985, either way she died a very old woman.  I cannot comprehend carrying this headstone all the way up the mountain, or what kind of life she might have lived in this area of the woods.  I decided to take a picture of the headstone, and try to figure out more about her later. 

The next place of interest was this cascading waterfall.  The woods are a playground for the senses.  The sounds of the water flowing freely over the rocks, splashing onto the earth below is like a beautiful symphony, accompanied by a chorus of birds sweetly singing the melody.  The sweet smell of life springing forth, the gentle breeze blowing gently across my face… I could sit in this spot the whole day.  

With each turn, another surprise for the eyes…  Here these apple blossoms are blooming, a sign and promise of fruit to come this fall. 

Sometimes it is really hard to hike, because you have to watch your footing or your might find yourself part of the scenery… that would not be fun, at all!

Well, we had to get a move on.  

As we came down the mountain, near the gap, we came across this monument.

Everything out here loudly proclaims the greatness of our Creator… His glory is manifest in and through his creation.  We are brought low, and lifted up as we encounter Him on a personal basis each day. 

We walked off the trail and under the bridge at Sams Gap, because it was raining.  Miss Janet didn’t arrive for about an hour.  Kole said that he had never felt more like a hobo than he did at that moment.  The moment that we saw Miss Janet’s van coming down the road, we all posed as hitch hikers… 

Everyone cheered, then we loaded way too many people and way to many packs into the van… but it was awesome. 

We drove to town, checked into our hotel, unloaded all of our packs, and headed to lunch at this place called Pals.  Oh.my!  We had some of the very best burgers and fries we’ve ever eaten.  Because the restaurant is a drive through only joint, Miss Janet took all of us over to a playground to eat our lunch. 

After everyone had finished eating, everyone young and old entertained themselves on the playground.  It was so fun!  How often to adults really play?

Everyone was laughing, deep belly laughter.  It was such an amazing afternoon!

After lunch we stopped by Uncle Johnnys Hostel to pick up the packages that we were expecting… though we were not able to get them all that day, we were treated to packages from the Mihelichs, the Twardosky’s and the Reeds.  Yay!!!  

We scrubbed away the evidence and grunge of the trail, both off our bodies, and well, we attempted to clean our clothes.  When I went to put the clothes into the dryer, I noticed that they were caked in oily mud residue.  It was so gross!  I took the clothes up to the room, and put them in the bathtub to soak… the below pictures are of the laundry and the water AFTER they had gone through the washer. 

We were clean, we were well fed… we were tired, so we went to bed… 

Happy Trails ~ The Thru Crew

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