A Wonderful Hostel
I woke with the light and got up, though I was still tired. The plan was to reach our hostel before the late afternoon rain. It only took me an hour to breakfast, dig a cat hole, and pack. Then we were off through rhododendron tunnels under an overcast sky.
The effort to keep my feet dry turned the trail into an agility course. Sometimes there’d be a huge puddle to skirt or a stream running down the trail. A leaf-strewn spot that looked safe would sink under the weight of my foot and I’d quick step to keep the wash of water off the top of my trail runner. At one point a bridge was too short, it ended mid stream and required a rock/ branch hop to reach the bank. My hiking poles helped immensely.
Cricket and I arrived at the hostel around 1 pm. Right away I saw Serendipity, then Anvil and his trail family. The bunk house was cozy, a pellet stove warming the common area. We joined Serendipity in the 4-bed short person room. I angled my bag to fit in the bunk as I preferred to be with friends and avoid the large 9-bed loft. The shower was hot, heated by a wood boiler. I changed into comfortable, soft loaner clothes to do laundry and continued wearing them all day.
After cleaning up, I sat on the porch of the main house and enjoyed a pint-size dairy smoothie. Serendipity had a loaf of homemade bread with cheese. The portions were generous, and it came with a half stick of butter. In the distance, goats ran through a field with picturesque hills as a backdrop. High Route showed up to camp at the hostel since Cricket & I had raved about it so much.
Before dinner, Neville, one owner, had us stand in a circle and say our trail name, home state, and a gratitude. Cricket said she was grateful to me for helping her through the rainy days. Awwhh! Dinner was so delicious: red beans, rice, and fresh garden salad with a plethora of home-made dressings like pesto, hummus, and tahini vinaigrette. A dozen of us sat at a large table and interesting conversations followed the meal. I picked up my resupply box, as did Cricket and Serendipity.
Cricket and I zeroed at Wood’s Hole Hostel. It was perfect, such a peaceful setting. The main house is surrounded by gardens with a noisy creek nearby. Friendly dogs roamed the yard. I ate breakfast on the porch while talking to Sunrise. The clouds broke and the sun came out. I used the wifi and one of the cats climbed into my lap.
It was a chill day where I mostly sat around, though I did shorten several straps on my backpack. I opted for the quart-size smoothie at lunch. Hobble-It showed up right before the afternoon rain. It was fun to catch up with her. She showed us a video of Grommet crossing Lick Creek as well as a hiker carrying his dog on his shoulders. Pretty crazy.
I helped with dinner meal prep. The food was delicious once again. Sonic Boom showed up near the end, happy to see Cricket, Hobble-It, and I. He welcomed me to the tramily, which seemed right as he was the first member I met. He, Hobble-It, and I caught up over dinner while Cricket helped with dinner cleanup.
In the evening, the four of us had a conference. It’s fun being gathered in one place and it would be nice to hike out as a group. Sonic’s right foot is bothering him so he wants to see if it feels better tomorrow. Hobble-It may zero if he stays. When I put out to the universe the energy of the trail family that I wanted, it’s exactly the one I found. I’m so happy and grateful to be a part of this tramily! They are such awesome people!
I started the day with a cup of good, black coffee. It felt like a treat since I am not carrying any on trail. Several of us wandered along for the morning feed of the farm’s three pigs. I found the male one particularly cute with his tiny tusks. Then I sat with the tramily and we enjoyed an amazing breakfast: GF peach cobbler, cheesy grits, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, pineapple, fresh lettuce, and orange juice. Neville is the hostel’s proprietor and I thanked her for creating a welcoming space and wholesome food.
Sonic and Hobble-It decided to zero at Wood’s Hole. Cricket and I said goodbye and set off. All day I was full of energy from rest and nutritious food. Good thing as it was a steep downhill to a couple of road crossings and the trail was slick with mud and water flows. While avoiding one patch of water, Cricket got stung by a nettle plant.
At the Narrows road parking area, we came across a rally against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which wants to put a pipeline across the AT. A group called Walk for Appalachia’s Future is walking in several states to raise awareness. We hung out for an hour or so. I asked questions and listened to speakers. Cricket got interviewed and made new contacts; environmental justice was the focus of her undergraduate education.
We intended to camp at Rice Field shelter, but it had a party crowd and one creepy guy so we walked to the next campsite. We ended up doing 20.8 miles, my new longest day at full pack weight. It was a peaceful campsite.
Over breakfast I met Ireland, from country of said name, who asked if I heard snoring from his tent during the night. I affirmed, but assured him it wasn’t bad with ear plugs. As we departed camp we ran into Engineer. Gummy Bear and Engineer are two thru-hikers, in their 50’s? (I am bad at guessing age), that I first met when I camped beside them at Jerry Cabin shelter. We camped together the next night in a storm. I’ve run into them occasionally since, like at the church feed and Wood’s End hostel.
The morning traverse of Peters Mountain featured fields of ferns and a couple good vista points with many trees in the distance. Good thing I only had 15 miles to go because I had low energy all day. Podcast episodes helped me pass the time. I stopped at a cute stone shelter for lunch and spent the latter half of my break chatting with Gummy Bear. He rates the difficulty of a hill by how many gummy bears he consumes on the ascent.
We stopped at Bailey Gap shelter for the night. It had no good camping nearby so Cricket, Gummy, Engineer, Ireland, and I slept in the shelter. It was a fun group and we chatted for several hours before, after, and during dinner. I felt a little crappy and got a bad headache so I took Tylenol and got in my sleeping bag. Hope I’m not coming down with something. A little nervous I won’t feel well enough for our 21.6 miles tomorrow. Cricket figured out daily mileage up to June 9. I plan to follow along until the 6th when I meet my friend Mike.
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