We are now at Black Bear Hostel. Yesterday we were rerouted off the AT because of a fire in the area. We had 7 miles of USFS road to hike around the mountain. We were able to camp at the field where a fire break was being put into place. All night long we could hear trees and branches falling in the forest. We have also just heard another fire has started in the area. We will see where before we leave here tomorrow. We should be in Damascus, VA by the evening of the 25th. We also have to avoid the Watauga Lake shelter due to recent bad bear behavior. The shelter had been closed for 2 years because of a sow and her 2 cubs causing problems. The shelter was just reopened and all ready 2 hikers had their tents shredded. Sorry no pictures. The hostel has asked us not to use up all their data. Just letting everyone know we are safe and that you may not hear anything for 5 to 6 days from today. On the bright side. I was walking down the trail yesterday morning and a young bearded man and his dog were walking south towards me. I looked up and said, “Matt, is that you?” He looked at me and said, “What are you doing here?” It was a young man I had hiked with on the trail from Helen, GA. last year. What a surprise!!!! Trail magic indeed.
Update: All hikers that were held in place since noon today have now been brought off of the mountain. The hostel went and picked up the hikers that the USFS walked out of the danger zone. A lot of planes were in the air all afternoon. There is now a fire ban in place. Since we have been hiking we have only had a 1/2 day of rain. We are all hoping for rain, even though it isn’t fun to hike in.