I left Hot Springs at 7:00 a.m. under heavy clouds but no rain. It was great to get a good night’s sleep, eat some good meals and get a good resupply. One of the items I bought was new pair of Super Feet insoles which would be helpful late in the day when I went through a 1.5 mile rock scramble at Big Firescald Knob.
As I began the climb out of Hot Springs I could see dark clouds moving toward the town. The initial climb took about an hour and I could see that it was raining hard in Hot Springs. I was lucky though, all I got was the wind and a light mist. I didn’t even have to put on my rain jacket.
Most of the day was spent walking up and down – through areas thick with Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel. I saw two rabbits and a wild turkey, more wildlife than I had seen during four days in the Smokies. As I made the climb up Hurricane Ridge, I got into the clouds (see photo) but by 1:30 it was sunny and cool.
I met Scarecrow, a former Recon Marine, in the afternoon and we walked together for a while until he found a campsite that he liked. Other than Scarecrow I didn’t meet anyone until I got to my destination for the night, Jerry Cabin Shelter, where I met Pop Pop, a grandfather, second time thru-hiker and former Marine pilot, and Half and Half, a young man from Tennessee wearing a camouflage University of Tennessee hat.
The scenic highlight of the day was Firescald Knob, with multiple 360 degree views (see photo). The 1.5 mile rock scramble was fun for about ten minutes but the next hour was a lot of work! It was a big relief to get off the rocks onto the soft forest path and arrive at camp by 6:00 p.m.
I sat at the shelter table with Pop Pop and Half and Half and cooked my dinner of two packets of Ramen Noodles and a packet of tuna, then had a Moonpie and hot chocolate for dessert. I was in my sleeping bag by 8:00 p.m. – another great day on the trail.