Hikers Hike Unless There’s a Really Good Hostel

“Lord, set me a path by the side of the road,
I pray this be a part of your plan,
Then heap on the burden & pile on the load,
And I’ll trek it the best that I can.” ~Nimblewill Nomad

Reunited and it feels so good

Thirty-one days since we last saw each other.  350 trail miles. I couldn’t drive my rental fast enough on my way to Bland, Va., to see OneFoot.  When we decided to bump my flight up by a day, OneFoot suggested a night at Woods Hole Hostel.  What an amazing experience for hikers and non-hikers alike.  The place lures many hikers into taking an unplanned zero.  It’s that special.  Accommodations are in the main house, hiker bunkhouse, tent camping in the yard, or the newly built glamping tents.  Communal breakfast is at 8 a.m. and dinner is at 7 p.m.  So what’s so great about this place?  It’s the atmosphere that Neville and Michael have created.  It’s a peaceful retreat.  There’s optional group yoga in the afternoon.  As Neville describes it, it’s yoga for the hiker who just did a 20-mile day.  It was great for the wife of that hiker, as well.  Before meals folks are asked to join in a circle of gratitude.  For real?  Yes, for real.  How cool is it to have the opportunity to hear what others are thankful for and to reflect, for a moment, on what is good in your own life?  We could probably all use a little more of that in our daily lives.

Hiker bunkhouse at Woods Hole Hostel.

If the trail could talk, and it did over dinner

As we sat at the picnic tables enjoying meals together, I was privileged to get a glimpse of trail life through the stories being shared.  All vehemently agreed that guidebooks and apps lie about the AT.  The next few miles are flat.  It’s all downhill from here.  The summit is right around the next bend. Virginia is easy.  Lies.  All lies.  Dirty, filthy lies.  But, I got the feeling that every step was worth it to every one of them. I also learned that most hikers are battling or have battled an injury along the way.  Achilles, shin splits, sore feet, back pain, GI tract issues, it’s all part of the walk. Even the stories of ailments made for some great conversation. There was a lot of laughter shared over those few meals at Woods Hole Hostel.  The AT has some great stories to tell.

Glamping with queen bed and real linens at Woods Hole.

Hike your own hike

For OneFoot’s AT adventure we have planned for a timeline of about six months.  He’s retired and living his dream so take it slow and embrace the moments.  Budget?  Well, we didn’t set a specific amount. He’s always been a bit frugal (I can hear our children laughing as they read that understatement) so I’m not concerned about his spending on the trail.  In talking with those we met at the hostel, I learned much about the phrase hike your own hike, or HYOH.  In general, it means do what works for you.  I spoke to one hiker whose employer has granted him a four-month paid sabbatical to hike the AT.  Nice!  That’s a tight timeline but doable and he’s determined. Another is on a super-tight budget.  He’s opting to work for stay at the hostel.  It is common along the trail to pitch in with chores in exchange for room, board, or both.  Some hikers may take advantage of day labor opportunities to earn some money.  Still others have saved up and left their jobs to allow themselves this time on the trail.   The timelines and budgets found on the trail vary as greatly as the people themselves.  OneFoot loves Maine in the fall so finishing in mid-September or so is very appealing to him.  Oh, and the HYOH philosophy extends to all aspects of trail life, not just time and budget.  More on that in an upcoming post.

View from Chestnut Knob Shelter, mile 569.

Trail Town USA

The rest of our visit was spent in Damascus, Va., aka Trail Town USA.  We stopped at the Lost Sock Coin Laundry in Abingdon, Va., on our way.  All of OneFoot’s clothing and gear needed a good cleaning (trust me on that one).  Two washes and two dryers for a total of… wait for it… $5!  Are you kidding me?  One wash alone in Connecticut is up to $8.  Sorry, I got a little excited about that.  With laundry done, we checked into our tiny home rental for three days of foot-soaking, shower-taking, indulgent-eating, touristy R&R.  I’ve learned that it takes OneFoot a solid day or more of not walking to realize how tired he really is.  Cue the three-hour afternoon naps on a comfy bed in a climate controlled environment.  As for food, we enjoyed meals at the Damascus Diner, Mojos Trailside Café, Mellow Mushroom, and our favorite, Harvest Table Restaurant.  That was a great place to celebrate our 29th anniversary.  Much-needed calories for OneFoot.  Troublesome calories for me.

Breakdown by the numbers

62 days since stepping off at Amicalola Falls in Georgia.

591 trail miles completed.

1,598 trail miles to Katahdin, Maine.

Three states done.

11 states to go.

22 pounds lost as of his last weigh-in.

One amazing wife.  That’s the constant on this AT adventure.

It’s goodbye again

I’m ready to return OneFoot to his mistress.  I can tell he’s ready to start walking again. Tomorrow I’ll drop him in Bland, where I found him, and return to Connecticut to resume my role as trail boss.  Next up?  We plan to meet up with OneFoot at the halfway point in Harpers Ferry, W.V.  That will be on Father’s Day weekend and our kids and Ray’s mom will join in that celebration.  What a celebration that will be!

Until the Next White Blaze,

OneFoot and Should be Good

Davis Farm Campsite, mile 576 (worth the walk).

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Comments 5

  • Dennis A Turner : May 15th

    Enjoyed the read. The ‘trail boss’ perspective is neat! DMFINO

  • Cardiac kid : May 15th

    Nice lookin’ beard there OneFoot. Loving the bloggin’ Should Be Good. And a belated Happy Anniversary!

    • Cheryl and Ray Galli : May 15th

      That beard is lookin’ a little gray, huh? Thanks Cardiac Kid 🙂 Always good to hear from you!

  • Ruth morley : May 15th

    I continue to enjoy following both of your journeys. OneFoot is so fortunate to have such an enthusiastic, supportive partner.

  • Jason Meacham : Jul 20th

    Sup ray ray, I mean ONE FOOT, ?? I give you a lot of credit for doing this hike. We used to talk about that all the time at work.. and when I read your wife’s comments about your famous breakfast sandwiches, made me think about you feeding me at work. It was friends like you that made working in that hellhole bearable….. someone told me that your trail name was LEFT FOOT,,, you should have corrected me in my earlier texts. Keep it up,, ( in a Spanish accent). “YOU CAN DOOOOO IT !!!). Ttyl. Jason. Class # 198!!!!!!


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