The store at Catawba provided a spot for hikers to camp overnight next to a bullfrog infested pond. Offering the free camping was better for their business than any advertising, as hikers will spend lots of cash on food and beer if its easy to get at! Mark and I set up the tarp early that evening and started our feeding frenzy. As night fell, the bullfrogs started their concert. Never in my life had I heard frogs so loud. There was nothing left to do but kill and eat as many bullfrogs as we could. Frogs legs… yummers…
Just Brian showed up at the store shortly after us and relayed some bad news. Not long after we left Woods Hole, Roy Wood had passed away from a heart attack as he worked on his property. It hit me like a brick… We had just come from his place and enjoyed his company a few days ago. I used the pay phone at the store to call my girlfriend in an attempt to ease my grief. It was probably the worst thing I could have done.
After calling her at home, I learned she was watching my little brother and sister at my parents house. I called collect, I heard that sweet voice on the phone and I felt my spirits rise. When I heard that same voice tell me there was a new man in her life and that it was over between us, something inside me snapped. Next thing I knew, I was packing my stuff and crying my eyes out. I gave Mark the stove and foodbag and he was on his own, I was bailing. After a sleepless night, I shouldered my pack, shook Mark’s hand and stuck out my thumb towards Roanoke. That was it… After walking 515 miles of the Appalachian Trail, I was quitting!
I made arrangements to fly back home from a travel agent in the city then hitched to the airport. When I was in the air, aboard the tiny eight seat plane, I realized I had made a big mistake leaving the AT. As soon as I got home, I made plans to return to the Trail. After an uncomfortable confrontation with the ex-girl, I prepared to fly back to Roanoke to catch up with Mark. Five days later, I’m on my way to Waynesboro and planned the walk south to meet up with Mark.
At the Ramp Festival, I had met Heather from Waynesboro and she had offered to help us get around when Mark and I came to town. Waynesboro is a major stop for hikers, with a Post Office, laundry, many stores and pancakes from Weazies. When I got close to Waynesboro, I called Heather, gave her the story and asked her for help. She picked me up and I stayed with her family that evening and enjoyed their hospitality. In the morning, Heather gave me a lift to the Trail and I was on my way south. I was about 115 miles north of Catawba and I figured Mark was close. I stopped at Seeley-Woodworth Shelter and hung out there. It felt great to be back on the Appalachian Trail again.