Mark and I sucked down the beers we found at Warren Doyle’s bathtub (a bathtub sunk into the creek, filled with crawdads and beer left by a kind soul) as we contemplated the 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail behind us. After a night at Helveys Mill Shelter that featured a grueling hike to the water source, we walked an easy 10 miles to Jenny Knob Shelter. This shelter was the temporary home for a flycatcher family nesting in the rafters. That evening, after a few chapters of Kerouac’s On The Road, I settled in for the night. Later, I woke with a start and screamed for Mark to turn on his flashlight, claiming hysterically that there were bugs all over the shelter. We had a laugh when he flicked on the beam and revealed it was only a dream I was having.
The next morning we hiked through Lickskillet Hollow, walked by Kimberling Creek a couple times, and on to route 606. The Traveller was there waiting for enough hikers to justify a beer run. Mule, Mad Dog, Rambo and Featherback gathered at the road crossing, the Traveler went for beer. It started rain, the beer started to flow, and before long we were transformed from AT hikers to a bunch of drunk trailer trash as we waited out the storm under a tractor trailer.
The beer blast under the truck continued as the storm hammered down on us. This group of thru-hikers were demonstrating a well known Appalachian Trail phenomenon known as spontaneous consumption. As we walked northward, a party threatened to start up any time we were within 10 miles of beer. And what a bunch of dirty, drunken vagabonds we were…
We watched lightning strike the telephone pole directly in front of us, accompanied by a great BOOM. Like a Hollywood special effect, the crackling electricity visually shot down the wires. I was ready to move on. We staggered a mile down the Trail and camped that night in the moist woodland next to Dismal Creek Falls. I was concerned about purity of the water (we had sent our water filter ahead to lighten our load) but the Traveler assured me the fast moving water would be alright. I looked at Mark and he gestured toward the cow voiding into the creek 50 yards upstream. We determined the Traveler was as full of shit as Dismal Creek.
In the morning we had all split, Mark and I were hiking alone again through the continuing showers. The rain picked up and it was coming down in sheets as we wandered towards Woods Hole under the cover of darkness. After a complete soaking, we arrived late and followed the signs to the “bunk house”. A hiker’s paradise, there was food in the fridge, hot showers, soft beds and, above all, home-like hospitality. In the morning we met the owners, Roy and Tillie Wood. These incredible people bought the picturesque log house built in the early 1800s and restored it to a beautiful piece of American History. Mark and I sat and listened to Roy’s stories of the elk herds he studied and how he found this wonderful spot during that time, buying the property in 1941 and restoring it in 1981. Tillie had a wealth of knowledge of the plants of the region, especially mushrooms. They were incredible folks and we felt like family during our brief stay. It was on to Pearisburg for us and after we did some yardwork around the property, we said good bye to our new friends and hit the Trail.
…continue the expedition, read: Greener In Virginia [link]