My Stay at Vango Abby Memorial Hostel


Welcome sign for the hostel

I knew I wanted to stay at Vango/Abby Memorial Hostel before I ever left on the AT. Because I knew I wanted to meet “Scotty” Trail maintainer, hostel manager, engineer, and… Trekkie. It said so right in the Guide!


The view from the hostel bunkhouse

I’m a huge nerd, and the prospect of meeting a fellow nerd out here in the woods appealed to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but there’s plenty nerds out here if you know where to look. (Did you know Bruce Campbell has hiked sections of the AT?) I had never stayed in a hostel before leaving on the Trail, so what I hadn’t considered was just how nice this place is!


The front porch of the bunkhouse

Vango/Abby Memorial Hostel used to simply be known as Vango’s back when it was still run by Ron “Vango” Frey, a Trail Angel with years supporting thru hikers and showing love to the Trail. After his passing, the hostel was renamed to pay homage to Vango and his faithful dog, Abby.


Memorial stone for Vango on the grounds

The hostel sits a mere 0.3 miles from the Trail off mile 405.8 at Upper Laurel Fork, and is reached by a fairly gentle blue blazed side trail. It sits so close that you could literally sit on the porch and spit over the boundary into the National Forest grounds, with the border sign feet away.


The National Forest boundary sign as seen from the hostel porch

Vango’s has several porch swings, and I think that’s probably the best way to describe the generally relaxing atmosphere the place carries. With gorgeous views, some gentle hills, and plenty of reasons to simply sit and relax. No yellow blazing or parking is permitted, the only way to reach the hostel is by hiking in, so a loud party atmosphere is generally discouraged. Instead, there’s plenty of time to sit, leaf through many of the books Scotty has on hand, or simply take slow deep breaths and enjoy the sensation of being off your feet with no pack on your back. At $10 a night, it’s easily some of your best value for your dollar for hostel stays, and cold sodas,, hot pizza, and resupply is available for those who need them. The shower is nice and hot, and the laundry convenient


A picture of one of the swings, along with the view from that swing

Scotty has thousands of miles of Trail hiking under his belt, as well as plenty of hiking experience. He’s a great conversation partner for learning about the culture and history of the Trail, and if you’re lucky he’ll play the piano for you too. He’ll also, of course, be willing to mention his preference for the Original Series over say, Next Generation.


Scotty at the piano

I found my stay at Vango/Abby to be a well needed spot of relaxation, and I hope you get a chance to drop by as well.

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