April 18 - Standing Bear Hostel (240.8)

We left the Smokies around 1 PM after what was for me a long painful descent. Started the hike by doing the first quarter mile before realizing I was wearing my Crocs and my hiking shoes were still at the shelter. Kind of embarrassing going back up the hill explaining why to the eight hikers descending.

The trail today was Jeff's worst hiking trail - large stones, roots, stairs, descents. Now limited to one trekking pole just makes the progress slower, and simply not fun. Stopped at Davenport Gap shelter for lunch with Achin and a Bikini Line, then continue. Cross the boundary out of the park and talk to three random people standing there. Not sure why they were standing there, but chatted away with the now usual "why are you hiking the AT?"

Get treated to some ups, but then return to stones and roots, and slowwwww.  Stop often and Achin at one point, far ahead, goes back up trail concerned I'm taking too long. When we do meet-up, we are dumped on a road and the map talks about an "I-40 Underpass", but that's it. We cross a bridge, up a road, and eventually find it and the trail beyond, to be greeted with 35 steep steps. Up we go and after 0.8 of trail, cross creek to a gravel road and soon after Standing Bear hostel.

We want a cabin, versus the bunkhouse. The owner greets me and asks, when I inquire about a cabin, if I'm being accompanied by my wife, girlfriend, sister, mother. Lacking these, I'm invited to the bunkhouse.

Shower is split, you can choose indoor or outdoor. There is a resupply store, everything is on the honor system, you settle up in the morning. Lots of hikers here, plus ranging chickens (don't leave that pizza alone), and a locked beer fridge with beers for sale.

Hermes, a retired Air Force doctor, is laughing as hikers use the scale here and realize how much weight they've lost. I ask him how much he's lost, and he says 18 pounds. He says if a patient came in to him with that much loss in a month he'd run a full cancer screening on them, and wouldn't believe it if it came back negative.


  1. I have to agree with the Dr. 20 pounds is a very quick loss.


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