At the Hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge, we’re cheered by the hospitality extended by hosts Chuck Norris and Tigger. Yes, we know them, but they don’t do this just for us: a mass of hikers pile into the van for a ride down to the Smoky Mountain Diner or take advantage of slackpacking into town down one of the rougher mountains. There’s spare food and drink in the kitchen and shampoo and soap in the showers. And they tend to the herd with wide smiles on their faces.
As this is our recuperation stop, I’m reminded of a visit my sister Sally and I made to Rhodes. We stayed in hostels, and stumbled across the world’s first hospital – about the size of a small hostel – established by the Knights Templar. Our connection through the ages a smattering of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the comfy TV room at the back of the hostel, perhaps? In any case, it’s wonderful to be able to recuperate in peace.