I didn't sleep well at all last night; I'm not entirely sure why. The shelter was a little tight, but nothing we hadn't seen before. It did pour around 3 am, which was quite loud on the shelter's roof.
Beast and I continued our role as the AT's firefighters; the people who started the fire in the fire pit near the shelter didn't put the fire out, so I had to use Beast's water to douse the embers. That turned out to be insufficient, as the wind later breathed more life into the embers I didn't completely quench. Fortunately, though, the fire stayed contained, and the early morning rains put the fire completely out.
We got started early, shortly before 7:30. Hoping to make it to our cabin for tonight at Uncle Johnny's hostel, on the outskirts of Erwin, TN, before it started raining, we hiked quickly — over 3 mph.
After an uphill, and a series of "roller coaster" hills as Beast described them (if they were roller coasters, I was not amused and want my money back), we began the several mile descent into Erwin. A pretty steep mountain we had to come down, there were upwards of 20 switchbacks on the way.
As we descended the mountain, we were able to see views of Erwin and the Nolichucky River, clouds permitting, slowly grow in the distance.
Around 9:30, we made it to the hostel, and with our hike for the day completed, we could relax and get nice, hot showers and change into dry clothes — even though it hadn't yet started to rain, we were soaking wet from walking through a cloud.
At 12:30, we got the shuttle from the hostel into town, and went to a place called Pizza Plus, which had an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Yum. Before heading back, the food store there served well for resupply for the next leg of the hike.
Back at the hostel after lunch, we mostly just killed time and relaxed until the dinner shuttle took us to an Italian place (which Beast was excited about, since it was next to the town's liquor store, and the restaurant had no corkage fees on wine). Uncle Johnny (the owner of the hostel) was at our table. It's Beast's dream, once this thru-hike is completed, to open or acquire a hostel on the AT, and Uncle Johnny and Beast had a lengthy conversation on the inner workings of hostels.
After dinner, we again finished repacking our packs, and chatted with other hikers before retiring for the evening.
One of the hostel's cats has decided that we are pretty cool, and is spending the night with us in our cabin. This means, of course, that we will likely be carrying cat hair the rest of the way to Katahdin.