In a few cold words, the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge up the hill from Hot Springs, North Carolina, can be described as:
A hostel with single and double rooms, plus a bunk room. Capacity varies from 25 to 34 depending on season. Limited shared kitchen, three shared bathrooms with showers. Linens provided (may be limited for bunkroom.) Grill available. Wi-fi. Lounge may be available depending on season.
That's like saying the movie, Casablanca, is about a guy who misses a train.
The world is full of writers and marketers seeking to link a compelling image or quip to one brand or another. Anybody could call any place the Laughing Heart whatever. Might even sound great.
The difference, in my humble opinion, is the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge really does make hearts laugh. That's what's happened in the couple of times that I've been there. Whomever came up with the name did so as a description of what it really is ... not simply a slick slogan.
Appalachian Trail hikers -- for the most part -- don't care where they sleep. If they can get caught in snow, rain, sleet and norovirus on the Trail, a bunk inside anywhere will do for a night or two.
The hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge isn't the kind of place where the Average Person would want to, say, spend a wedding night.
It is, however, the kind of place where you can blow away some of your Trail scent, get some rest, be with Brothers & Sister of the Trail, wash your clothes, heat up a few noodles and score some gorp in Hot Springs, North Carolina, at the bottom of the hill.
The hostel is on the grounds of Laughing Heart Lodge -- formerly a Jesuit Retreat Center -- the kind of place where you actually would like to spend a wedding night or anniversary in one of their seven rooms with private bathrooms.
Laughing Heart Lodge in Hot Springs, NC, opened in August of 2012 after extensive renovation. It is a wonderful facility for retreats, family gatherings, weddings, and events as well as being available to individual guests as a bed and breakfast.
The lodge is a great place for relaxing, a romantic getaway, and to enjoy the beauty of our surrounding sacred mountains in our small, quaint mountain town. Our vision includes hosting a variety of retreats in addition to providing peaceful lodging to travelers.
The Laughing Heart Lodge is perfect for people who wash on a regular basis, change their clothes, wear underwear and who expect multiple hot meals on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that they're hooked on indoor plumbing.
For the rest of us ... there's the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge. That's where we belong. Where we'll be accepted and enjoyed for who we are, not just for who we were or might be someday.
Fireplaces, lush lounges, air-conditioning and silverware aren't for hikers. Maybe later. Not today.
We'd rather be sitting outside in wobbly plastic lawn chairs asking silly questions like, "So, how'd you get the Trail name 'Dances with Mice'"?
Please Note: Dances with Mice is the best Trail name. Ever.
You never know who you might meet at the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge.
I scored big-time when I crossed paths with Baltimore Jack (Trail legend) and Tom Kennedy, vice-president of Hike for Mental Health. Fun times.
Who will you meet? Who will meet you ... at the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge?
If you're hiking into Hot Springs from the south, the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge is the first building you'll see after you pass the parking lot for folks who park at the Pisgah National Forest portal to the Appalachian Trail.
It's easy to catch a ride into town for a huge breakfast, new gear, new friends or pizza!
While you're there, pick up one of my favorite T-shirts. The one that says, "Hot Springs! Where Mayberry meets the Twilight Zone."
Better yet, where Mayberry meets the Appalachian Trail and where good medicine is always available without a prescription at the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge.
Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Community, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, and Hiker Hostels
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