Southern Hospitality, Southern Hostility

     At the Ramp Festival we met many friendly folks. We never felt like strangers and we often felt at home with people we only just met. Lynn and Bob were part of my cheering section during my ramp feed and as Mark and I were leaving, Lynn gave us a map of where they lived and invited us to visit. It was pouring out when we got the road crossing nearest their home and we decided to hitch there to see them. We had a great evening of food, beer and conversation. Bob was writer and Lynn a cartographer (which explained the fine map she drew for us). They lived in a home they built themselves in the small town of Teas, Virginia. We stayed the night and Bob gave us a lift to the Trail in the morning. I’ll never forget the good times and the hospitality we shared with Bob and Lynn.

 We enjoyed a fine walk through the Virginia woodlands, spent the night at Glade Mountain Shelter by ourselves, had a country breakfast the next morning at the interstate restaurant we came across, and then back to the Trail under thickening clouds. We worked our way to Reed Creek through vast pastures and were approached by some cows. As docile as they are supposed to be, when a herd of cows are bearing down on you it can be a bit frightening. We reached Reed Creek and our troubles began.

  The Appalachian Trail has often been re-routed because of land aquisitions or to eliminate road walks. At Crawfish Valley, I stopped to get water and found a faded blaze up the hill. I called to Mark, and we followed the trail with the intermittant and faded white blazes. We walked a few miles on, saw an old shelter site and figured we must still be on the AT. Actually we were on the old AT which had been routed away from this mountain some time before. Soon we walked off the map and were completely lost. About that time a horrendous thunderstorm was starting to wail on us. We came to a fire road and decided to walk down hill until we came to a major road where we could hitch back to the Appalachian Trail.

     The rain was coming down in a torrent, soaking us completely. The lightning was striking very close and I kept a good distance from Mark and his metal framed backpack. Both of us felt we should bail and we looked for shelter. That is when we saw the house with the big porch and bolted for its cover. We knocked on the door and peered into the windows. Not only was nobody home, it almost seemed the house was abandoned. I wanted to break in and live the good life but Mark, always the sensible one, thought it was a bad idea. Soon we were cooking dinner and drying our clothes on a hastily strung clothesline across the porch. Then we heard the car rumbling up from the valley.

     As the car pulled into the driveway, Mark nervously said something about squealing like a pig and I was hearing that banjo music in my head again. The man slowly eased out of the vehicle making it a point of displaying the large pistol in his hand. He wanted to know “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ON MY PORCH”. Mark and I took turns explaining who we were, about the Appalachian Trail and the thunderstorm, all the while repacking our stuff. He didn’t seem to want to shoot us, but he didn’t want us there, either. We beat a hasty retreat, walked a mile or so down the road and set up the tarp in the yard of a tiny church. The next day, we found the road, got a ride from a friendly local to the Trail and continued our journey north feeling lucky but still somewhat shaken.

…continue the expedition, read: Dismal Creek and Woods Hole [link]