Friday, May 5, 2017

Falling into the Hole

We broke camp late in the day and climbed back over Knob. Many more people there than yesterday; we headed down the slope. Following the whiteblazed trail instead of the fire road took considerably longer.

At my request, Barbara drove to Woods Hole Hostel with me and delivered my supplies to my patiently waiting Ion.  Dogs welcomed our arrival enthusiastically, hikers curiously, smoothie. No Internet, sorry. We joined the thru hikers who zeroed here, ate one of Neville's meals, and decided to stay "in the Hole" -- a little work in exchange for a longer stay, the hikers say, a little more time with trail buddies. Too nice to go on, weather too fearsome ... co-proprietor Michael says the record has been six months.

Woods Hole Hostel

Woods Hole has a good family story. Neville's grandparents opened the farm to hikers in 1986, offering free lodging in the barn and meals for $3.  Her grandfather passed away during peak hiking season a few years later, but Grandmother Tillie and the two granddaughters kept the place going. Neville recalls the embarrassment of her grandmother coming out to the bunkhouse and telling her it was bedtime in front of all the hiker boys.

In later years, Tillie did not keep the hostel open on a regular schedule. A family talk one evening about donating the farm to the ATC dissolved in hard words and tears, and was resolved with the agreement that either of the daughters could claim the farm when the time came.  So Neville went out in the world to find Michael, and they have been living busily for the past eight years earning the admiration, praise, and love of our oddlot 2200 mile-long community.

Bunk house beds, actual mattresses, no snoring. I slept deep, if only for my usual four hours.

Tomorrow, I slack pack from Pearisburg, then take another day's stay in the Hole Friday while the storm passes (also, to enjoy dinner there). Then, a drive to relocate the car and my base camp to the Grayson Highlands at the crest of Mount Rogers before Neville's cooking puts too much weight back on my bones,

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