Tuesday, 4/21

AT Miles = 8.7 / 415.3
Other Miles = 1.4 / 19.1
Total Miles = 10.1 / 434.4

When I originally planned my hike I think I had a mail-drop scheduled for the Kincora Hostel, in Dennis Cove, TN. At some point I decided I had too many mail-drops and in an effort to remove some I decided to rely on being able to get a shuttle from Kincora into town to buy food.

It is only about six miles from the Moreland Gap Shelter to the Kincora Hostel, and I arrived there about 10:15 this morning. Bob Peoples run Kincora and asks only for a suggested donation of $4.00 to stay there. He is pretty much a legend on the AT. When I got there he was not home, but I talked to some of the other hikers to try to get the scoop on what was going on and how things worked there. From what I was told Bob offered shuttles into town eratically and you neer knew when he might be ready to go, or exactly where he would take you.

I didn't have enough food to make the next 3 days and 50 miles into Damascus, VA, so I had no choice but to get to town somehow. One hiker told me he had to stay an extra day to get a shuttle to the store. I can't afford an extra day, as it is going to be very tight as it is for me to reach Damascus before the post office closes at 4:30 on Friday afternoon so I can get my bounce bnox and another package that Jodi has mailed to me there.

So, I took a look at my copy of "Appalachian Pages" and saw that if I continued up the AT past Laurel; fork Falls and through Laurel Fork Gorge, there was a side trail in about three miles that would take me one mile to the road just outside of Hampton, TN. The book also told me that there is a grocery store and a hiker hostel in Hampton, so that decided it for me.

The gorge and the falls were beautiful, and in what looked like some kind of divine confirmation of myh decision, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun shone as I picked my way through the gorge and along the river. By noon I was at the side trail, and 20 minutes later I was walkikng down the shoulder of the road into town. My first stop was Brolwn's Grocedry, which is half grocery store and half hardware store, advertising both Mac & Chese and Hog Wire. You need it, Brown's got it!

The couple that own the grocery store also run a hnostel in their home, known as Braemer Castle. I got directions from the cashier at the store and walked 3 minutes up the road. Luckily I caught Sutton (the owner) just as he was about to leave. He brought me inside and showed me around. This place is a great find! The bunkroom, downstairs, is being renovated and thus was closed, but they offer private rooms upstairs for $20 each. So far (3:45PM) I am the only one here. The place is huge, and spotlessly clean. It is an old building and all the floors tilt in one direction or another. The floors are all hardwood. There is a large common afrea, a kitchen, some comfortable chairs and a couch, an old TV with a few VHS movies to watch, and great big windows for lots of light.

I asked Sutton about restaurants, and also if there is a barbershop in town. To my surprise there is. Following his directions I walked west down the main drag through town to Bud's Barbershop. When I got there there was a sign on the door that read:

Nead a haircut? Go to house – Bud

Apparently everyone in town knows where Bud lives, except for me! Dismissing the laircut for the time being, I walked further on down the road until I got to the Copper Kettle RFestaurant, where I had a BLT and fries, followed by some peach cobbler, all accompanied by some sweet tea. I asked one of the guys wortking at the restaurant if he knew what was up with Bud's Barbershop, and he told me that Bud comes and goes as he pleases. Her also noted that Bud has been around pretty much forever, and that Bud used to cut his grandfather's hair.

I walked back and when I passed Bud's I saw that he was now in his shop, so I stopped and got my hair cut and my trimmed a bit, so I don't look quite so much like a homeless person.

While cuting my hair Bud asked me if I liked winter, and told me that it is supposed to get cold and even snow a bit tonight. I knew that already, but played along and told Bud since I was from Bahsten I knew all about snow and it didn't bother me.

I am back at the hostel right now typing this. The wind is getting pretty furious outside, and the whole building is creaking. I've got to go through my food bag and make sure I've bought everything I need for the next three days to Damascus, and at some point I'll venture back out to get some dinner. It will be good to be indoors out of the storm tonight.


So, some folks have nolticed that I spend the night in a hostel once or twice a week, and are wondering why. Well, it's springtime in the mountains, and it is COLD and WET. It rains 4 or 5 days a week. It's windy. It's cold. After being cold and qwet for three or four days, it feels really good to spend a night indolors, take a shower, and get my sleeping bag and other gear dry.

I think Anju was the first to comment on the fact that I am eating a lot of meat nowadays. A lot of you know that I used to be a fairly die-hard vegetarian. I am no longer a vegetarian at home since Joldi and I have found a local farm that raises beef, pork, lamb and chicken all on pasture. That addresses all of the ethical issues that causede me to be a vegetarian. Now,of course, that doesn't help a whit when I am off traveling, and if I were to follow my ethical principles I wouldn't eat meat on this trip, but my body craves it! I am hiking 8 – 9 hours every day, and that takes a huge toll on my body. I need all that protein to repair the damage I do every day. So yes, I fgeel a bit guilty about it, but I am goingf to continue eating meat whenever I get to town and have a chance to do so.

And Ken, when are you going to come out and hike with me?

The next three days are going to be tough. I could do about 22 miles tomorrow to Iron Mountrain, then 16 on Thursday to Abingdon Gap. That would leave me with about 10 miles on Friday into Damascus, so I would be there in plenty of time to get to the post office. 22 miles; ouch!

CupAJoe and Duct Tape are planning to take "the Kincora Challenge" and try to hike the entire 50 miles in 24 hours. Damn kids! I told them if they did it, or even came close, I'd buy them dinner if I ever catch up with them again.

Allen Freeman