Good morning.  We are packing up and getting ready to head back to the trail.  We will be rained on today, but we are no longer in threat of being lifted off the mountain by a tornado or pelted to death by hail.  The weather outbreaks in the south can be intense!  We’ve been reminded over the past few days about the bipolar spring weather down here. 

So Tuesday April 4th, we woke up and said farewell to our friends the Graham’s and headed down to the Rivers End Restaurant to eat breakfast.  We had a great time just laughing and chatting.  Breakfast was AMAZING!  We were all thankful that the day would be filled with nothing but lazy meandering along the river.  

When we were finished with our breakfast, our waitress, Evon, dropped off our check.  When we opened it to pay… we found this note written on the back of the receipt.  Speechless, with tears streaming down my face, I showed Ryan.

We do not expect these moments… but it is moments like these where we receive more than a paid for meal.  We are learning and receiving instruction on how we are to live our lives.  We need to open our eyes more, open our hears to hear the stories of others, and open our hands to share what we have as freely with a stranger, as the stranger has shared with us.

After breakfast, we putzed around Nantahala visiting with fellow hikers and checking out gear in the store.  We also had to purchase our permits to hike through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  It wasn’t ALL fun though… unless unpacking incredibly stinky wet gear is your idea of fun.  BUT it was so beautiful, the air dry, with a gentle breeze and the sun bright and warm… PERFECT for drying out gear.  

After the “work” was done, we had time to read, write, and relax.  Many of us soaked our tired feet in the frigid waters of the Nantahala River.  There is nothing better for achy feet than a soak!  Even Belle agrees.

We watched as kayakers made their way through the rapids.  It was pretty exciting.  We thought it was really cool to watch them roll themselves over.  

The Nantahala River is beautiful, and we were only able to explore a very small section of it.  We were really thankful for a day to rest!  Sometimes people think that their rest days should coincide with rainy days, but we were all grateful for a day of rest that was full of warmth and sunshine.

We enjoyed one last big dinner at the little restaurant, knowing that we would soon be consuming nuts, dried fruit and dehydrated meals again.

After dinner was done, we went back to the bunkhouses and started to pack up all of our dry clothing.  We sorted through boxes and packed up food.  We have decided that we were carrying some items that we were not using too often, so we packed them up to send home.   While we were preparing to head back to the trail, our friend Jamie, let us know that BIG storms were going to be making their way back into the area.  They were going to be dangerous storms… so we decided to make plans to stay in Bryson City for one more night.  

Wednesday morning came… and the storms indeed came through.  We hunkered down in the Sleep Inn, and binge watched way too much TV.  It was a boring day, but boring days are good sometimes.

We did journey out to McDonalds for an ice cream, a treat we most definitely do not get to enjoy while we are on the trail. 

We slept like babies last night!  Everyone has fresh legs, full bellies, happy hearts… and with that we will step out onto the trail again in just about an hour.  We all have our rain gear on, and the rain flies over the packs.  Rain is a part of this journey.  

Some people have asked if we are on schedule… technically, we are a couple of days behind schedule.  What we are learning though is that we are actually exactly on time.  We are learning to see Gods hand in the detours.  These moments where things are not going the way that we think that they should go are the exact moments that have been the most memorable and most rewarding!!!

Happy Trails ~ The Thru Crew

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