Day 43 – Hikers Stay in a Haunted Shelter

I probably woke up 3 different times to check outside if raccoons where eating from bowls on Bob’s porch. No dice. Maybe Stanley got his mojo back for keeping wildlife at bay.

We woke up around 8 and chatted with Bob, the purveyor of Kincora Hostel while we got ready for the morning. I had a microwave Chimichanga for breakfast in addition to my standard carnation breakfast packets but this time they were mixed with a can of Starbucks double shot coffee, a solid combo. Hiking started late for us around 10AM. We passed a road sign of hikers painted red, was this an omen of what’s to come?

We had a full day on the schedule. Hike 18 miles. Along the way stop at Watauga Lake, jump in. Hike to Vandeventer Shelter and get there before the rain this evening at 7PM. What we didn’t account for was also stopping at Laurel Fork Falls and trail magic. Both of which were awesome and much needed.

We stopped for lunch at Watauga Lake. I stripped down to my underwear and jumped in (Sorry no shameless video this time). It was cool and refreshing. I watched geese and ducks swim in the water. All the while desperately hoping a wakeboard boat would drive by that I could waive down and barter to let me ride (I live for wakeboarding). Again, no dice.

After a late lunch we started hiking again at 3PM. We had a little over 8 miles to cover before the rain was expected in 4 hours. Doable for sure. On the way up the mountain, another hiker mentioned some trail magic a mile or so ahead. We picked up our pace into Wilbur Dam Road.

We found a few cars but no magic. Our hearts sunk a little. Until we started up the trail, there were 3 pop up tents in the trees with some pretty epic trail magic. I was dying of thirst and crushed 3 sodas in short order. They also had pulled pork sandwiches with the best BBQ sauce of all time (Sweet Baby Rays Honey Chipotle flavor). There was also chips, mandarins, cookies and even first aid supplies.

We’d of stayed longer if not for the impending rain. Despite the 14 miles we already covered that day, we pushed even harder to beat the rain. A slow sprinkle started to fall with close to 2 miles left. We threw rain covers on our packs. We only stopped to get water because the water trail at our intended shelter was described as “like walking back all the way down to the lake for water”.  At the water source we passed a couple section hiker who were ahead of us.

We made it to shelter just before the steady rains came and claimed the last 4 spots available. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. (Every year I have random thoughts about Christmas in the summer time. They also coincide with cravings for eggnog, which I dislike but I forget that I dislike it every 6 months or so. It’s a good thing they don’t sell eggnog in June).

Vandeventer Shelter is on a ridge line overlooking Lake Watauga and it’s marina (not that we had much of a view with the rain). In the 1970s a young woman was murdered in the shelter and it’s been said (according to Bob) she comes back to haunt the place on rainy nights. Nights like this one. The wind is whipping around as a write this and loud sounds pound the tin roof in addition to the fall of heavier rains. It’s unnerving. The wind makes it feel far colder than the 50 degree temperature that is listed. Time for ear plugs and to cocoon inside my sleeping bag. The ghost will have to get me in my dreams.

I’ll report back tomorrow on any bumps in the night at the haunted Vandeventer Shelter.

Stow away in my pack for Day 44 on the Appalachian trail.




I hope you’ve been well my dude. In the unlikeliest of meeting places we met and I’m glad our friendship has lasted. I feel like we’re kindred spirits having a myriad of seemingly unrelated talents as well as an equally varied set of personal interests. Keep learning, keep trying new things and I hope to see you soon. Come visit me in San Antonio sometime! Take care

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Comments 2

  • Jenny : May 28th

    I’m following your journey from Virginia and it’s a good read before I go to sleep. The forest brings me peace and your words and photos offer that. I like your dedications to friends and family- that’s beautiful.

    • Derek Witteman : May 28th

      Thanks for following and for your kind words. I’m really looking forward to VA


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