Mile 1950.5 (NC/TN): May 14, Max Patch to Standing Bear Farm

It was cold overnight up near the peak of Max Patch. Fortunately, the site I chose was well protected and out of the wind. It was foggy though, so I had no sunrise to enjoy as I re-crossed the peak heading south. 

I have noticed more older hikers over the past few days. I should say, it seems like the average age of hikers has been going up. Perhaps the younger ones are faster and are alread ahead of the slower crowd.

I also passed two hikers who were slackpacking. They asked about my orange tag. I asked what they were doing. One said he sold his house and bought an RV. And they are slackpacking every day and staying in the RV. 

And with the nice weather today almost everyone seemed happy. 

And at one point I came across a turkey on the trail. She was acting strangely and not the least bit afraid of me. I had seen this behavior before with a spruce grouse last year when her chicks were nearby. Unlike the grouse which acted injured and tried to lead me away, the turkey charged me with flapping wings and threatened to leap on me. I never even saw the chicks, but they were close. I heard them peeping in the brush. 

As I came down the final hill toward the hostel, I could hear the sound of the interstate highway below. But as I descended and closed in on Standing Bear Hostel the road noise disappeared. It was on a gravel road about 1/4 mile away from the trail. I understand this is one of the old, classic hostels. It was rustic and comfortable but with very simple amenities. There was a clothes dryer but the washing had to be done by hand with a washboard. The hot water is made using propane tanks. There was, of course, a bunkhouse. I chose a semi private room with two full beds and two twin beds in a loft. I was the only one there so it turned out to be a nice, big private room. 

Tomorrow I plan to head out and enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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