Day 63 – McAfee Knob and a Hiker Tribute

The lights came on around 6:30AM inside Four Pines Hostel in Catawba, VA. Eyore was up and getting started making coffee and breakfast for everyone. He had made an excellent chicken pasta the night before so I was looking forward to what was in store. I moved from my bunk to one of many comfy broken-in couches.

I found myself thinking about the last time I was in Catawba and the people I met there. Let’s go in the way back machine to 2012. I was in my second semester of Medical School in Lewisburg, WV. A friend of mine was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and I drove down to meet him and his tramily in Catawba, VA at an all-you-can-eat restaurant called The Homeplace (sadly now closed).

In his tramily I met a 20-year-old guy named “Parkside.” He had a captivating and gregarious personality. The type of person who you meet once and instantly leaves a positive impression. From what I’ve heard and read, I wasn’t the only person who held this belief. I was following my friend’s thru-hike via his Flickr account when I learned the following.

On June 15th, 2012, 155 miles from Katahdin, Paul “Parkside” Bernhardt drowned in Pierce Pond. I learned that at the end of a big hiking day, he got a cramp while swimming in one of many ponds Maine has to offer. He was too far away from his tramily for them to rescue him. His star shined brightly, and despite only meeting him once, he left a lasting impression. Rest easy, Parkside. I’ll be attempting your VVIP challenge when I get to Vermont.

Breakfast was an egg casserole, bacon, and pancakes. Rabbit and I had also packed out a can of pineapples so we had those as well. Also at Four Pines,  was a massage therapist named David. He had a tent and a bunch of power tools (literally had a car buffer) in addition to a massage gun to aid in treatments.

My dad is a massage therapist and I learned a number of soft tissue techniques in medical school, so we had a lot to talk about. He gave me an excellent massage with treatments directed to areas of concern and areas of tension he found on his own. David is very experienced and has an impressive level of palpating skills. We shared different techniques with each other and discussed his future plans.

He will be at Woods Hole Hostel for the next week, so if you’re in the area, I recommend checking out his services. He does a 15-minute trial session, and the recommended donation after that is roughly $25 per 15 minutes. I was honored to give him the trail name “The Mechanic” (because he calls his tent the “body shop”). He gave me a ride to the trailhead to start the day.

I was feeling like a million bucks as I started up the trail to McAfee Knob. It was a little over 4 miles, and the time flew by. It was a hazy day, I was unsure if it was smoke from the North or just some low-lying clouds but the views from McAfee were not as clear as one would have hoped. I got the obligatory McAfee’s Knob photo and continued on to Tinker Cliffs.

I met up with Sip at Campbell Shelter, and we hiked on. The last 1.5 miles up to Tinker was a steep 10 percent grade. We found Rabbit waiting for us at the top. I thoroughly enjoyed the half-mile walk that meandered along the cliffs. There was a nice view of the valley below.

Our camp for the night was at Lamberts Meadow. We found a nice little campsite on an astroturf green patch of grass. I had Nutella for the first time (epic, and also sad that I’ve missed out on it for 37 years). Potato chips were also added to tuna packets for the first time (which I learned from “Bread and Butter”), and it makes them vastly more palatable. I ended the night by making fun of Sip because he bends over like a 70-year-old man (welcome back to the Tramily!).

I passed out early around 9:30. Tomorrow we plan to stop a Cracker Barrel (Sip’s favorite) in Daleville.

Until then, stow away in my pack for day 64 on the Appalachian Trail.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Russ Hobgood : Jun 18th

    Hey Derek. Man, that was sad about Parkside, his spirit made it to Katadin.
    I always look for the McAfee photos, yours is great, on the edge. I was fortunate, clear morning after a rainy day. Then went 100 yards up and took a pic looking west. One of the best looking down on the same spot.
    Trek on, best of trail luck to you and your tramily.

  • CB : Jun 18th

    Been following your blog the whole way, but for some reason, I now want to tell you how strongly I’m rooting for you to finish at Katahdin. Classy tribute to Parkside!


What Do You Think?