Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BRITISH HIKER: JAMES


It was supposed to be chore day.  I told Kenzie that we would do a little laundry, shake out the rugs, sweep out the cabin, and then go into town for some groceries 

Well, the laundry got done and the rugs got dragged to the deck before those plans were dust in the wind. That is just the way some days are.  Someone says good morning with a British accent, and you are compelled by some unknown  force to just let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be.  


My new British friend, James, unlike the others, was coming down the trail, heading to Damascus from Atkins, Virginia.  It is about a 75-mile hike, so he had been at it for a while.  He had spent the last two cold nights in shelters with some AT hikers and appeared to be over it.

I offered James some tea--because I assumed that is what any good Brit would drink in the morning--but he surprised me by requesting a cup of coffee.  Coffee?  I had not made a cup of coffee in a very long time, but I somehow managed to serve up something that did not resemble sludge--which is more important than you may think since I poured it through a cobweb on the top.  When will I learn that cabin living means you check the cup before you pour?

From my vast experience of getting to know hikers on the Creeper Trail, I can tell you that it takes time to uncover the fascinating in a person.  James is a very fascinating fellow.   If he had stayed ten minutes, it would not have been enough time to find that out.  Even one hour would not have been enough time to find that out.  It took a couple of hours to peel back the layers of this young man.

He is in the United States because something popped up on his Yahoo news page one day about a program called Workaway.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER: CHEF JOHN WAYNE

The day after our visit with Appalachian Trail hiker, Spectrum, we planned to visit a local attraction, Backbone Rock, on our way home.  So we tidied up the cabin, loaded our things into the car, and headed out.  

We did not get 50 feet before I noticed a hiker coming up the trail.  I turned to Tessa and said, "I have to stop and ask him if he's walking the AT, and if so, what his trail name is.   I promise, it will only take a minute."  Imagine my surprise when he told us that his name was Chef John Wayne.  Tessa knew then and there that it was not going to take a minute.

I could hardly contain my excitement.  "The Chef John Wayne?" (Really? As if someone else had hijacked his identity on the trail.)  "We know all about you." 

He, momentarily, looked skeptical, which quickly turned to what I believe was somewhat impressed that his fame had spread all the way to Hoot Owl Holler. (That really is what the locals call our little neck of the woods, by the way.) I may or may not have read a bit into his expression.  It all happened so fast.  

It did not take long for me to get to the part about Spectrum's visit the day before.  And before we knew it, I was turning the car around to open the cabin back up so that Chef John Wayne could take a shower, wash his clothes, eat some food, and share a few tales of his own.

Chef John Wayne's visit was much different than Spectrum's  though (and for the record, I enjoyed both immensely).  Of course, since they both were hiking the trail, many of their stories shared similarities. His were just a lot more contemplative and philosophical in nature. Chef JW is an observer of all things and very much in tune with the finer details and nuances of his experiences on the trail.  He has the spirit and eye of an artist.

Even now I am having a hard time writing a list of facts  about him, even though I know I asked him a lot of the same questions that I had asked Spectrum.  It seems more appropriate to tell his story with broad strokes as I feel he has chosen to live his life.  


He did not just tell us about his experiences, he attempted to share them with us in a tangible way through his photos--his art.   And we took the time to fully glean from the experience by pulling out our field guide in hopes of identifying a moth he had photographed.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER: SPECTRUM

We will have owned the cabin two years this coming October.   I can hardly believe it. Two years.  

Almost the entire first year was spent renovating, so I was up there pretty sporadically. Since the almost completion of the renovations about a year ago (Are renovations ever complete?), I have visited our home away from home quite regularly.  This summer I practically lived there full time.



I am still amazed at how each and every time I go to the Little Cabin on the Trail, I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting people.  I don't know why I am so amazed since I specifically prayed that God would send us people with whom to share His love.  

Two weeks ago, Tessa, Kenzie, Jett, and I had just returned from creek glass hunting and were having some lunch when a hiker passed by on her way up the trail.  Jett, who is just three, has gotten quite friendly with the folks going up and coming down.  He mimics us and yells, "One more mile, just one more mile to the cafe."  Quite often--and I am not exaggerating--people just open the door to our screen porch and enter, thinking that our little cabin is the Creeper Trail Cafe--which is famous for its chocolate cake ever since Southern Living did a story about them years ago.  So Jett feels it is his job to keep everyone straight and moving in the right direction--toward the cake.  


On this particular day, Jett shouted a greeting to the hiker, and she offered him a friendly salutation.  I turned to see who he was talking to, and I asked her if she was hiking to the top of the mountain, about 11 miles.  When she told me that she was actually hiking the Appalachain Trail, I was shocked, intrigued, a little concerned for her, and instantly willing to become invested in her hiking journey.  

I invited her in to visit, and she said, "Really?  Are you sure?"  Of course, I was sure. I needed to know why in the world a young girl would want to walk from Georgia to Maine, apparently by herself!  I needed to know how long she had been walking, what kind of shoes she was wearing, what she was eating, and what her mother thought of her adventure.

  

I grilled her, and she didn't seem to mind one little bit.  

She had been walking for about five and a half weeks.  She was from Louisiana.

She is 24 and had never hiked before.

She had started with a friend who quit after a few days. Her friend left the hike, apparently not a fan of sweating and climbing, so took a beach vacation instead.