Day 36 273.3 – 290.2
Having rested in Hot Springs we arranged a slack pack to help heal my back. we completed a 15.9 mile days over some pretty steep terrain. We had our packs sent forward to Hemlock Hollow Hostel and arrived there early evening. Although my back was still a little sore it was much better than having 30+lb on my back. We was pleased to see Black Bear, Chair, Spiderman, Alex, Queen and Columbus plus some hikers we hadn’t met before. We had a catfish dinner before tenting in the grounds. The hostel was nice enough but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t get a shower as there was insufficient water in the well and the “additional” charges added to the bill appeared extravagant.
Day 37 290.2 – 309
Another slack pack (18.8 miles) to Laurel Trading Post. My back was feeling a lot better and slack packing was helping to get over the issue. I was concerned a continued back issue would mean my hike was over and this was frustrating me and causing some concerns but feeling it ease was a relief. The Trading Post was a good place to stay, they stayed open late to ensure we all had a shower and fresh cooked food. Again Black bear, Chair, Queen and Columbus were there but we were also joined by Dundee.
Day 38 309 – 330.8
21.8 miles; our longest day so far. It was clear by lunchtime that at the pace we was going we would not make the pre-arranged time for the packs to be dropped off. As there was no hostel near by we arranged the packs to be at a parking place close to the trail at 8pm. The terrain was a lot harder than we anticipated so the pace was slow. At lunch we met Quiet Paul who set up some trail magic of eggs, muffin and sodas. Callum (Rugby) shot ahead at this point to try meet the packs. Unfortunately in his haste to get the miles done he didn’t take any water treatment and had 13 miles to complete. I hiked on but the terrain was steep at times so ended up hiking into the dark. Fortunately I had my head lamp in my slack pack as without it there was no way I could of climbed the steep rocky hills. It was pitch black and very steep rocky underfoot. When I was close to where I thought Callum would be I saw a couple of tents, one being a Big Agnes like mine, so I approached them with my headlamp shining on bright. It wasn’t until I got close that I realized it wasn’t him and hiked on. I must of scared the occupants as it was about 9pm and the middle of no-where. Callum was about 1/2 a mile further and had set the tents up. He had met the packs with 10 minutes to spare. Unfortunately it rained overnight and leaked inside my tent so I was pretty annoyed.