A Fantastic Start to 2016!

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The weekend following the start of 2016, I was extremely fortunate to go on an overnight trip to The Hike Inn.  This trip was planned for a long time, and something I have wanted to do for even longer so you can imagine my excitement level.  Very near to the start of the Appalachian Trail at Spring Mountain is a rustic hotel hidden deep in the forest.  If one wants to go, you must hike 5 miles to get there, so it is certainly not for everyone (the hike is mostly moderate but it is steep at times).  I am an avid hiker, and although hiking the AT remains on my to-do list, this was a neat way to escape to the mountains with friends, my husband and son.

The Hike Inn is fairly primitive as far as hotels go.  There are private rooms, but they include rustic bunk beds.  The central bathhouse contains showers and composting toilets, and they were clean as could be (but it was a bit of a walk in the middle of the night).  Breakfast and dinner are served family style in a large dining room promptly at 8 am and 6 pm, respectively (don't be late!!  seriously, don't be late).  If you were to go on your own, it is nice to know that you would to be able to break bread with others of similar interests.  There is also a communal room with board games and a wood burning stove that was lively and cozy on the evening we were there.  Cell phone use is strongly discouraged, which meant that we spent our time talking to each other!!  Imagine that.

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One nice thing about hiking in the winter is that the vista views are much more visible, and while it is impossible to do the sunset justice in a photo, take my word for it that it was gorgeous.

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The trail to the Inn is very well maintained.  You can tell from the stone steps and wood bridges that care is taken to ensure a safe, and mud-free hike.

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I was also pleasantly surprised at the neat plant life thriving in the middle of winter.  I love these little pine tree plants (not their official name).

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We awoke the next morning to find that the temperature had dropped a lot (it was in the 20s - brr!) but once we got back on the trail, it warmed up quite a bit.  The hike out was fantastic.  We had a great time at the Hike Inn and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, even if only for one night.

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I just love the forest scents created by mother nature, and have attempted to capture her essence in two of my handcrafted soaps.  The first, called A Walk in the Woods, is a blend of balsam with a hint of wildflowers.  This reminds me of the woods during the late spring.

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The second is called Appalachian Forest and is a complex blend of pine, balsam, cedar, fir and a hint of lemony litsea cubea.  More reminiscent of the woods on a fall afternoon.

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What do you love most about the great outdoors?  Please share in the comments!

Happy New Year!