Appalachian Trail Mile 418.5; Kinkora Hiker Hostel

Friday, June 2, 2017 (Day 30)

The 18.5 miles to the hostel was filled with sunshine and promise of a shower at days end. There were many nice views. I sat by the Upper Laurel Fork River, enjoyed some coffee and continued on. My energy was low and I was moving slower than usual. I was not too concerned with rushing, however, as long as I arrived at the hostel before nightfall I should be fine.

I arrived past 8pm. The sun had assumed the process of setting. An older man with white hair was on the porch calling in his cats. He spotted me and said “hello” and told me that the hostel was in the back. I followed him, or the sound of his voice rather, as he quickly disappeared.  After a brief moment of directional uncertainty, I saw his face through the window of a door. I opened it. Dishes and boxes and cats were strewn about inside. “No, not in here! Out there!” He seemed upset with me. He came out a moment later and was much kinder and showed me the hostel and where I could find towels and do laundry and shower.  All of this for a suggested $5 donation. There were over 15 beds, and the hostel was silent.

“Is any one else here?”

“No, you got the place to yourself.”

I had not expected this.

The man was Bob Peoples. Or at least I think. Neither of us introduced ourselves. Mr. Peoples is legendary in the trail community.  He works to maintain the AT yearly, and is said to have a plethora of stories. Unfortunately, we did not speak much.

The walls and ceiling of the hostel are covered with photos of hikers at Katahdin, sending their gratitude. There is only one cat living in the hostel, now. The raccoon keeps to the porch.

I was left to make myself at home. First order of business was to locate dinner. I rummaged through the hiker box to find steel cut oats in 1/2 cup vacuum sealed baggies, and a packet of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. I turned to the refrigerator to find a few pieces of bread amongst old salad and pickles and freezer burned ice cream. The cupboards and shelves held the remnants of breakfast cereals, two energy bars, and many instant oatmeal packets. There was a pack of of corn tortillas on the wooden kitchen table. Could I make it the 51 miles to Damascus on this and skip resupplying in Hampton all together? I decided to try.

After organizing my bag a bit and gathering what food I would need, I retired to a small and rectangular room with one wall of log and cement and three of plywood.  A blue wooden chair sits in the corner to the left by the window. Vines push their way through cracks in the lumbered wall. The air is musty and heavy. I chose the private room, though privacy was certainly a non-issue this evening. I sit on a queen sized bed with a comforter of pink roses against a faded navy background. I am showered and laundered and resupplied. Not bad.

I had difficulty sleeping. I woke to strange sounds coming from the front of the hostel. Banging and rustling and…perculating? A glance at my watch tells me it is nearly 2 am. Strange.

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