Beware All Who Enter Here

Check and check. Numbers 264 and 265 have been officially marked off on my bucket list. To be fair, there were only 263 until today, but special circumstances call for special check marks.

I suppose you’re wondering what numbers 264 & 5 are. Well, 264 is to join a cult. Number 265 is to join two cults in the same day. Until today I had no idea I even wanted to join a cult, much less two in under 24 hours but, apparently, I do and I did.

The first cult was rather mundane and far less planned than the second. After discovering Qu’s Whistle Stop Restaurant, located a meager half mile down the road on which my hike concluded for the day, was closed, I caught a ride with two hippie looking folks driving a massive van nearly full of even younger pre-hippie looking folks. That was a painfully long sentence. My bad. Anyways, they were great and I only refer to the group as a cult because Fearless Leader (I already can’t remember her name) did first. As it happens, as it was meant to happen, she thru-hiked in 2013 and this common bond compelled her to push $10 into my hand when we reached The Snack Bar, where they were all procuring copious amounts of ice cream. They were trail maintainers employed by Americorp and all truly wonderful people. I might even see Fearless Leader again when I get back to Virginia, where she lives. We’ll see.

I should take a second here to thank my stepmother, Betsy, because the best piece of advice she’s ever given me (save, of course, “Dance every chance you get,” which also happens to be incredibly good advice) came in handy today: “Never turn down free money or free food.” I got a free muffin (though I very nearly turned it down) and later this $10, which I politely tried to refuse, already knowing my well-intentioned manners where utterly useless against the intense stare from Fearless Leader as she firmly palmed me the money. So, thanks Betsy. Ultimately I got a LOT of free food thanks to your undeniably sound advice. Thru-hikers everywhere should subscribe to this way of thinking. I wonder if I could get a T-shirt…

Moving on. I never did get a chance to say goodbye to Fearless Leader and her band of useful youths but that’s okay. I left a note on their windshield thanking them and politely suggesting they look me up on Facebook and check out my blog. I wonder if they’ll read this…I hope so.

My second cult, bucket list item 265, was a bit more planned and a LOT more cult-y. If you haven’t heard of The Twelve Tribes you’re in for a treat, ladies and gentlemen. These people are legendary in regards to the trail. They have three locations along the east coast but this sect in particular (the Founding Sect, if i have my facts straight) runs a little place called The Yellow Deli here, in Rutland, VT. The food was fantastic and the big glass of peach Yama Maté tea they handed me upon arriving was even better. In a connected building they operate a FREE hiker hostel and only ask for a donation or work for stay (I plan to help cook breakfast tomorrow — also free — god help all who eat it). They will even let us keep stuff here and slack pack the 17 odd miles to the next major road! So now you’re thinking, wow! These folks are the bee’s knees, right? Well yea, they pretty much are. The only problem with this little scheme is the forced indoctrination before they let you on your merry way. As it has always gone, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

I may be slightly overdramatizing the whole bit, I’m the first to admit, but it really is rather creepy sleeping under the roof of known whackos. To be fair we aren’t talking Waco, TX here. I haven’t seen any Kool-Aid (yet) and so far no one has, “suggested,” it might not be good for my health to leave. But still. I can’t help thinking sleep here will be an exercise in averting subconscious mind control. Or maybe I’m being paranoid. The whole group has this strange gleam in their eyes and The Man in Charge of the Hostel has a lot more than a gleam. It’s much closer to the milky look my old dog, Kona, had when his cataracts developed fully. Only thing is, his eyes are bright blue and there isn’t a cataract in sight. Maybe I’m not so paranoid after all. If I don’t show up on some kind of radar tomorrow, would someone kindly call the cult-extraction team? I may be in need of assistance.

There you are, two cults in one day. Anyone with an urge to hand out medals at this point will be greatly appreciated (assuming I survive to accept it).

I’m other news, I’m planning to turn a shitty sharpie tattoo some hiker gave to some other hiker and felt obligated to two me about into a short story. Yes, I know that makes very little sense but the idea I have isn’t half bad. Another hiker gave me a halfway decent concept for a mystery novel too. My life is suddenly inundated with things to write about, and who am I to complain? Stay tuned. Cheers all, that’s all for today.

Be Happy.


PS. The truth is the 12 Tribes are a group of super Jesus hippies with honest (though maybe inceptive) intentions. They recruit the burnouts of the world (Phish and Grateful Dead concerts being regular sources) and turn them into productive members of (their) society. No harm done, right? I’m certainly thankful for the free room and board!

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