We all lived through the night. In fact, we all stayed quite warm, slept quite well, and just to prove it Tyler snored like a lumber mill. The morning was still extremely cold and therefore everyone got going slowly. As is typical even just a couple days out of town, we started talking about food. Extra Mile mentioned lucky charm bars which we happened to have, so we threw one his way.
It sounded like the group, that is Leap Frog, Extra Mile, Dean, Peregrine, Bambi, and Spike, was going to fragment after today. We thought about doing big miles, but anything more than 13 would put us at Roan Mountain, and sleeping above 6000 feet and with the weather the way it was, that sounded at least awful, at most deadly. Dean and Peregrine headed for Roan Mountain Shelter, Leap Frog and Extra Mile possibly the same, Bambi and Spike were headed for the Greasy Creek Friendly (as opposed to hostile/hostel) in 7.2 since Bambi's ankle was now causing some serious issues. We said we would meet them there and decide what to do.
Though it was cold (absolutely frigid when the wind blew), we made excellent time. Since Tyler sent his gloves home, he wore wool socks as mittens, at Emily's suggestion, to hold his poles. We made the 7.2 miles in about 2.5 hours to Greasy Creek Gap, and down the half mile trail to the Friendly. It seemed quite a bit longer than a half mile, and we got worried that we had made a wrong turn, but find it we did. We were greeted by two dogs (Dixie an immense black lab puppy and a fluffy lovely, barking mutt named, trying to spell it phonetically, eye-oh-bee - a transliteration of the Hebrew pronunciation of Jobe). We knew we were in a good spot.
The Friendly is run primarily by the house's owner, CeeCee, and her boyfriend, Gadget. Gadget is hoping to finish up the trail this year, though, we aren't certain if CeeCee has hiked the trail. They are beyond great. The freezer is filled with Ben and Jerry's, microwave foods, and other ice cream treats. They have a small shop where you can resupply with the honor system (when you take an item, just tic it on the checklist and square up at the end). CeeCee said she would make the microwave burgers for us and doctor them up with fresh veggies and condiments. Easy decision. Jalapenos included. They were great.
This year they have been slightly overwhelmed with the number of guests, but seem to be handling it well. Apparently, with the cold, they have had so many people filling the indoor spots and bunkhouse that they've even had people just crash on the floor.
Spike and Bambi showed up an hour or so after we got there, and Bambi's ankle was doing a little better but not well enough to head off. We decided to stay the night and we would make up the miles tomorrow. We put ourselves down for the bunkhouse. Seth Rogan and Haand Solo also arrived and decided to stay.
Gadget got Kill Bill fired up on the giant television with surround sound (Gadget likes gadgets), we ate our first of two pints of Ben and Jerry's, and relaxed. It was easy for this place to feel like home. Two Sticks, who had been delayed from food poisoning back in Johnson City, had already stayed one night, and was finding it very hard to leave (he stayed another night). So we looked around at the sodas and snacks, made a tick mark, and munched. Sodas, which we don't really like in regular life (or real life as many of hikers call it), are now craved often on a daily basis. Luckily, unlike many thru hikers, we are keeping up with dental hygiene.
For dinner we all went to the back lawn and cooked our dinners over our various camp stoves. Also around this time some section hikers arrived. There were three of them and they wanted indoor accommodations and together. CeeCee told them they'd have to split up if they wanted to stay (there are three indoor beds, and one was claimed). This apparently made them upset, they said some unkind words, and went back up the trail to camp. If any of the thru hikers were there to witness the event in action, hopefully Cece knows this, we would have had her back. We wound down the evening with showers, music videos over youtube, more ice cream, complimentary herbal tea, stories from the wild haired Gadget, and the discovery that CeeCee would be making breakfast for us the following morning.
We headed to the bunkhouse around 9:30 (so late!). It was cold inside (unheated and unsinulated). But there were mattresses, four walls, and a ceiling. Snores began as soon as heads hit the pillows.