Jesse and Skunk set out from Hot Springs this morning at mile marker 274.9 and decided to stop and set up tent by the fire tower at mile marker 283.2 and at an elevation of 3506. The weather is cool and things are still wet but sunshine is just around the corner.
Jesse and Skunk got a much needed break from their packs. Skunk’s Dad picked up their packs and is meeting them at their next stop. This is called slack packing. With 30 some pounds on his back all the time this was a nice relief and he was able to hike longer than usual.
Jesse is avoiding shelters in this sections for several reasons. #1 reason is a number of hikers are sick with giardia which is a parasite. This occurs when people urinate or defecate too close to a water source. Although hikers are filtering their water the filters can not filter out parasites. I am assuming this was an issue in the Smoky’s where so many day and section hikers were who didn’t know better.#2 reason: Several hikers have had their bags stolen. This is extremely disappointing to hear because thru-hikers are family. A shelter full of thru-hikers should be a safe zone. #3: There are reports of a man threatening people with a machete. The thought is he is living off the land and clearly is suffering from some mental illness. So, he will not be staying at any shelters in this stretch but rather setting up camp along the way.
UPDATE: this is the link I was sent concerning the guy with the machete:https://www.facebook.com/michael.k.hensley.9/posts/10211092939279142