Monday–May 17, 2021
Location–Upper Laurel Fork, then to Scotty’s Five-Dollar Piano Bar Hostel (Closed), AT Mile 408.0
I was glad to be back at Mountain Harbour B&B (Hostel) again, my second stay, this time upstairs in the bunk room.
And oh yes, I’d signed up for breakfast again, the right thing!
Not stirring as early this morning, but there’s plenty of time to pack, then head up to the house for breakfast. A bit of restraint this morning–proud not to have stuffed myself! Thanks Mary, I’ve had a great stay here with you, David, Shannon, Chains & Ziggy!
A short roadwalk back to the trail, then a gentle climb to the open meadows for s trip back in time–with old home sites, orchard remnants, and a family cemetery. Where once there was much activity; now exists a peaceful, silent calm. The remainder of the day is spent on sidehill trail through rhododendron and laurel hells (known as the green tunnel).
I pass the 400-mile mark on the AT today. And there’s one more short jog (200 yards) into and out of North Carolina where the trail hits Elk River.
At AT mile 408, Upper Laurel Fork, I turn to follow a faint trail up Laurel Fork to Scotty’s Hostel (now closed). Scotty is a dear friend of many years. He was one of the first to hike the Eastern Continental Trail. We hiked many-a-mile together years ago. Scotty is in poor health now. So, for his hostel being closed. But he’s opened the bunkhouse for me. So good to be back here again. I arrive a little after four and get settled in. A fine evening.
There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity,
a silence that is a fountain of action and joy.
It rises up in wordless gentleness,
and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.
Sunday–May 16, 2021
Location–Trail Days, Damascus, Virginia, then back to Mountain Harbour B&B (Hostel), AT Mile 395.3
Another fine night in Tom and Sandy’s back yard. Their place is so near the city park pavilion that a band could be heard playing well after dark. However, the music quickly faded as I drifted off to contented sleep.
This morning, everyone’s busy breaking camp, loading gear, and preparing to depart for home. Bidding goodbye to friends grows old fast, but lingering hugs never do. So long my friends; safe travels.
At nine I finally get my tent down, my pack packed. I’m all alone; everyone’s gone. I’ve been able to contact Sparkles & Snapshot and I’ll meet them downtown in a short while. So, off I go for yet another goodbye.
While lingering on the sidewalk, feeling even more sorry for myself, standing right before me–my goodness, it’s Lucky from Above the Clouds Hostel. He’s come to Trail Days in hopes of finding me and other of his friends. Goldilocks will be coming for me, to carry me back to US-19E and Mountain Harbour B&B, but we’ve time for breakfast. So off we go to Cowboys up on the corner. A fine time–thanks for coming up, Lucky!
Goldilocks is here for me right at eleven, to shoe-horns me into the back seat (five in her little car) and we’re soon winding the mountain roads back south to Mountain Harbour.
A few moments to linger, then more goodbye hugs. Thanks, Goldilocks. See you again soon–soon…
Mary has saved a bunk for me for the night. I try relaxing. Work my journals. Very mechanical effort/result, however. Forgive me folks, it’s been an absolute whirlwind three days for this old man. I’ve rolled with them best I can!
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life.
It goes on.
Saturday–May 15, 2021
Location–Trail Days, Damascus, Virginia, AT Mile 395.3
Last night I pitched my tent in the beautifully manicured backyard of Tom & Sandy Davenport, downtown Damascus. Kindness extended to a perfect stranger; thank you, Tom & Sandy, for your thoughtful kindness!
I’ve reluctance and mixed emotions about this day–a stroll down the Trail Days’ concourse (and memory lane), vendor tents both sides of the park walkway, hundreds and hundreds of folks, mostly hikers, pretty much shoulder-to-shoulder all along.
Crossing Beaverdam Creek on the
Virginia Creeper Rail Trail, and a little before ten I turn to enter Damascus Town Park. I’m approached immediately by folks who recognize me, want my picture taken with them. For the next two hours, as I slowly proceed past the pavilion and work my way along, I’m greeted by dear friends, also strangers, all wishing me well on my AT journey. The kindness extended me, the happy, cheerful folks I meet along, an unbelievably humbling experience. Pure energy beyond description.
It would be impossible to name all the people that I’ve met today. Some, wanted their picture taken with me. Ahh, but I also got my picture taken with some of them! I’ll now make an attempt, and please forgive my mistakes, but I’ll try naming the dear folks, starting with those I camped with, then those in the park. I’ll also attempt displaying the photos I’ve taken in some semblance of order–but there will be omissions and errors. So, forgive me.
Slim Jim, Michelle Weygand, Katherine Reed, Teresa Smotherman, Jennifer Sullivan, John & Sale Calhoun; Bob Peoples (Kincora Hostel); Odie (Hiker Yearbook); Tom Kennedy (Hike for Mental Health); Bopit & Punisher (ECT thru-hikers); Nimbus (ALDHA); Bayou (The Place); Chris (Etowah Outfitters); Matt (Zpacks); Pickle; (AT thru) Bronco; Model-T (Author); Bill (ALDHA); Sly (ALDHA); Shoes (no shoes, AT thru); Hoppy (MRO); Crab Man (AT thru); Lightweight; (AT thru) Billy Goat (on left); Hammock Hanger; John & Sale (Triple Crown); Snapshot & Sparkles (AT Class of 2020); NOLA & Cocoa.
Late evening, back at Tom and Sandy’s place, a warning fire, more great time with friends, then off to my little tent–and dreamland z.z.z…
I’d like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me.
I’d like to be the help that you’ve been always glad to be;
I’d like to mean as much to you each minute of the day,
as you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way.