This one's going to be short.
It was a relatively nice hike into Hot Springs, NC. The uphills were less severe than the guidebook made them appear, and the final downhill into town was rather nice.
Got to the Laughing Heart hostel around 11:15 (so, pretty short day). Got a nice shower, and while laundry was going, with Beast and his parents, got lunch and looked around Hot Springs' "Trailfest", which had a couple of trail-related vendors/enhibits, but was really more of a local excuse to have a festival than anything that actually catered towards hikers. (Trail Days in Damascus next month is supposed to be really good for that, but we should be long past Damascus by the time of the festival.)
Picked up some additional provisions at the local outfitter (and will need to pick up some more food in the morning before we leave town), then Beast and I retired to our room for a nap.
The hostel (or town, on account of trailfest, I'm unclear on which) sponsored dinner for hikers, consisting of hot dogs, chips, chili, and cookies.
Saw Loon and Verge for the first time since Gatlinburg. They're doing well, and have moved on to travel with another group.
After dinner, drinks with Beast and his parents, then sleep, well past hiker midnight.
Next: on to Erwin, TN. Expecting to get there after 5 15 mile days. Cell phone coverage is reported to be poor to nonexistent, so posts may be delayed until after reaching town. Not expecting to zero in Hot Springs, but will make a decision tomorrow. My ankle is doing better than yesterday evening, but I'd like it to be a bit better before heading out into the middle of nowhere for five days.