We woke up to the rain. It was not heavy rain, but we probably wouldn't have moved from our spot to put all of our soggy stuff into our bags, if we weren't heading to town at the end of the day. Emily's bag had fared well, Tyler's was a sad soggy mess. We kept Emily's sleeping bag in the dry bag since we were worried it would get wet in all the chaos from the night before. Tyler's bag is synthetic down, so if it gets wet it's not such a big deal. For the first morning on the trail, we skipped coffee to get the day started. Funky was wrapped in his tarp under the rock overhang. A slow drip over the rock had completely saturated his sleeping bag. He said he stayed fairly warm though. We packed hurriedly, scarfed some meat and cheese, donned ourselves in every piece of rain gear we had (pants, shell, poncho), and put on our last pair of dry wool socks. They stayed dry for approximately two minutes and then we squished around in our shoes for the rest of the day. The next shelter, where we wanted to eat more food, was about three miles away, just after a treeless expanse. The wind picked up as soon as we got out of the trees. In the shelter, which was in pretty rough shape, our toes and fingers started to go numb since our blood was no longer pumping. We ate quickly, but not before Ka-Bar showed up to warm himself up. Tenacious arrived in her full yellow rain gear looking very much like a duck and in seemingly high spirits. We hit the road following Nighthawk. Nighthawk pulled ahead for a while but we caught up quickly. She had wiped out in the mud (the long downhill was basically just a giant mud slick). She yelled some choice words and said she was changing her plans and now was for sure pushing on to Hot Springs. Soon after, one hiker ran by us in shorts and a t-shirt yelling that he had to keep warm and his rain gear just made him sweat. We tried to move normally down the hill but the slick mud was too much. It was chaos. After we got a bit lower the wind slowed. Turbo and Two Sticks passed by. They were slackpacking for the day and were keeping a blistering pace. The 2014 trail magic member, Loba, from the day before, offered to shuttle their gear to Hot Springs for them. Lucky devils. We pressed on, nearly avoiding a number of slips and spills along the way. Tyler did wipe out once on a rock but his pack broke his fall. It's hard to capture how truly long the day felt here, since for the rest of it, until we made it to Hot Springs, nothing much happened except mud. The three of us sort of went into survival shut up mode and tried to forget about soaked gear, soggy feet, sloppy socks, sodden footwear. Even the wrist straps on our poles were smelling less than fresh. But, go on we did, and at about 5 pm we arrived at the southern most building in Hot Springs, the Laughing Heart Hostel.
The trail actually goes through the center of Hot Springs, which is about a half mile long. Our hotel, Creekside Court, was close to the other edge of the small town. But before doing anything, we shed rain gear, socks, and changed into our camp shoes. In the very least our last half mile would be done with a modicum of comfort. We got to the motel, hung everything we could on the motel railing to dripdry (though it had started to rain again), showered, changed into our least damp, least smelly clothes, lay on the bed to stare at the tv playing whatever it was playing (nearly everything on the screen is fascinating these days), and then headed to get some food at the nearby tavern. Because it was raining again, it took some serious convincing to get Emily to leave. She was a bit scarred by the previous night. But when we did leave and made it to the restaurant, we orderd a feast. Tyler ate a burger, some pizza, and waffle fries covered in, what seemed to be, pork fat gravy. Killer. Em ate the other part of the pizza and nachos. We chatted with Duckfart and Rabbit for a bit who came in to the tavern just as we were paying the bill. Then we headed back to the hotel, through the rain, got in, climbed into a dry bed, above a dry floor, with dry sheets, and fell about as immediately to sleep as is possible.