We hadn’t planned to spend a week in Hot Springs, the first town where the AT ambles right through the center of everything, but there we were. The first few days were spent with a dear friend who took us in from the cold and snow, with John already sick and me slipping into a misery of coughing and sneezing. After a double zero at her house, she took us into town – rather than us walk the two days in the rain – so we could move into the Hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge, run by our Florida Trail friends Chuck Norris & Tigger. It felt odd to be off-trail, legs wondering why no workout today, but I knew my lungs couldn’t handle strenuous activity, yet, especially in the rain.
We opted for a shuttle back to where we’d left the trail so we’d walk right back into Hot Springs again, silly as it seems, to continue north. Being off trail let us relax and shake our colds, catch up on reading and writing, and even watching movies, like “The Way,” about long distance hikers on the Camino De Santiago in Spain. But this unplanned stop puts us well behind friends we’ve already made and slips our schedule even farther.
When your health is on the line, however, and you’re living outdoors, nothing is better than taking the rest you need in a place with a roof, running water, and climate control.