Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 42: The Boy Scout Interrogation

April 18: Amanda and I had checked into the Dancing Bear B&B and as everyone knows, B&B is short for Bed and Breakfast. Amanda was excited about the breakfast—she does enjoy good food. For me, the breakfast was an obstacle. There was nothing wrong with the breakfast per se, but I was anxious to get on the trail as early as possible because weather forecasts predicted heavy storms late in the afternoon and I wanted to finish before they started. And at the B&B, breakfast was at a specified time so we couldn’t leave before then—at least without not missing it completely!

I didn’t see any wild ponies today when Amanda dropped me off at the Grayson Highlands, but the views were still great!

Eventually breakfast was served as we chatted with other guests, and with that out of the way, Amanda drove me back to the Grayson Highlands to continue the hike. I didn’t get on the trail and start hiking until a little after 10:00, though—quite a bit later than I would have preferred.

At the Wise Shelter, I ran into my first pack of Boy Scouts for the day. One of them was flipping through the register—and I wondered if he should even be looking through it because sometimes there’s stuff in the registers that isn’t particularly kid-friendly—but he found something that he got all excited and went to show it to one of the adult chaperones. The chaperone hadn’t even looked at the entry yet but saw the register and said aloud, “Hmm… I’m not sure you should even be reading that.”

I laughed. A little too late for that! I never saw what entry had perked the kid’s interest, but the pack of 12 Boy Scouts continued down the trail and I continued eating my first lunch of the day. And started flipping through the register making guesses at which register entry the kid had found. I also flipped to the back cover the book to check if there was anything there—a week earlier, Salty had done so and produced a photo of a scantily-clad woman taped into the inside back cover and told me that such photos were taped into many of the registers. Ever since, I started peeking at the inside back cover of the registers more out a curiosity than anything. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to which registers have the photos and which ones don’t. Sometimes there would be long stretches of trail without any photos, then several photos in three consecutive shelters. But in any case, it wasn’t a photo that grabbed the kid’s attention because this register didn’t have one.


Throughout the day, I would pass about half a dozen groups of Boy Scouts with about a dozen people per group. The sheer number of them was astounding! Not to mention that hoards of other day hikers and weekend backpackers—the trail was positively crowded today!

But my favorite event of the day was when I arrived at the Old Orchard Shelter. The shelter itself was empty of people, but through a thin layer of brush ahead of it, I could see a group of kids and three thru-hikers standing in front of them being interrogated.

“How do you charge your cell phone?” one of the kids asked.

“How much do you walk each day?” another one asked.


I couldn’t see the hikers very well through the brush, but I recognized the voice of Rise—who I had last seen nearly two weeks earlier and figured another one was Hercules who I knew he’d been hiking with quite a bit lately. The third guy I didn’t recognize at all, but I guessed he was Numbers based on the fact that I knew Numbers was just ahead of me on the trail (based on register entries and sightings from other hikers) and the fact that he fit the description I had heard of him (in which the word “bald” was often used). I wanted no part of the interrogation, however, and was content just to sit in the shelter and watch it happen. I could imagine that the three of them just wanted to keep hiking, but these kids—which I assumed was another group of Boy Scouts—weren’t going to let them!

After about ten minutes, the thru-hikers managed to extract themselves from the interrogation and continued onwards. Shortly thereafter, one of the adult chaperones approached the shelter and started his own interrogation of myself. “Are you thru-hiking?” he asked.

I so wanted to lie. I imagined the kids would interrogate me if they found out I was a thru-hiker, and I was slackpacking and clean-shaven and didn’t even really look like a thru-hiker. I could pretend to be a day hiker. I knew I could.

But I couldn’t make myself lie, and I admitted that yes, I was a thru-hiker. So he started asking if I slept in the shelters every night. (Not every night, but often.) And when I had started hiking. (March 8th.) And a few other questions, but I got off pretty light. Nobody else ever came up to the shelter to question me and the kids never suspected a thing. =)


Later in the afternoon, I caught up with Rise and Hercules—and they confirmed that the third person being interrogated had been Numbers after I mentioned that I caught the last ten minutes of the interrogation. They had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing and told me that one of the adults had approached them all but begging to tell the kids about thru-hiking because it was their first time backpacking and he wanted them to learn more about it. And they said it was kind of fun getting all that attention, although they wouldn’t want to do it every day. I told them I only caught the last ten minutes or so of it after slipping into the shelter unnoticed and laughed my butt of the whole time. =)

I’d pass one more shelter by the end of the day, where I caught up with Shoelace. Shoelace is section hiking the Appalachian Trail and I had seen him in each of the last three days. The first time we met was at the shelter where I took off my shoes and socks and started hiking barefoot which likely made an impression on him. =) So I was chatting with him and Rise when an older man with a giant pack walked into the shelter and groaned loudly as he took off his pack and sat down.

“Sure looks like a heavy pack,” I said, trying to be friendly. “A rough day of it?”

“My pack isn’t heavy!” he said, angrily.

“Uhh… okay… I thought it looked a bit heavy.” Heck, my pack I think feels a bit heavy, and even my full pack looked about half the size of his pack. It wasn’t meant as an insult—just an observation.

“Well, it’s not!” he told me, putting me in my place. “It has absolutely nothing more than it needs!”

At this point, the guy was just starting to annoy me, but I wasn’t going to let this go… “Oh, I bet there’s something in there that you really don’t need. Even my pack has stuff that I don’t need in it.”

A privy with a view!

He went on a rant about the pack being full of food and if he got rid of any of it, he’d starve to death. I finally decided just to tune him out and went back to talking with Shoelace asking him how far he planned to go tomorrow, and he said to the Partnership Shelter.

The old man lit up and said that that’s where he had come from that day, and it was long, hard and rocky—suggesting that maybe Shoelace wasn’t fit for such a long hike tomorrow. He could do it because he was tough and made of iron, but most others wouldn’t be able to keep up with the likes of him.

Shoelace merely noted that he felt he could do it. I had no doubt he could do it. It was all of about 15 miles and Shoelace had been doing those kind of miles already. Frankly, I could have done that distance in my sleep at this point. Maybe it would be more difficult for Shoelace since he wasn’t thru-hiking and wasn’t in thru-hiker shape, but 15 miles with a reasonable-sized pack didn’t seem out of the question to me. The old man was just an idiot, carrying too much weight, out of shape and an ass.

Rise said something about hiking on with Hercules, and the old man piped up again making some sort of comment that Hercules couldn’t leave yet. He had seen Hercules at the trail junction for the shelter and Hercules had offered to get him water so Hercules couldn’t go until after he had gotten his water. I’m sure Hercules offered to get water out of the goodness of his heart, but had he any idea what an ass this guy was, I bet he’d have had a change of heart!

Rise and I soon left the shelter to continue onwards. I felt a little sorry for Shoelace knowing he was planning to spend the night there and was now stuck with that old man who’d likely make the evening miserable for everyone, but glad it wasn’t me spending the night there. =)

I arrived at Dickey Gap, where I had planned to meet Amanda for the day. I saw the red rental car parked on the side of the road, but she was nowhere to be seen and the door was locked. And it started to rain. It was just a light rain—at the moment—but it was somewhat annoying for me. I had made it to Dickey’s Gap before the rain had started, and I’m still getting caught in the rain!

Amanda showed up a few minutes later, walking down from the Appalachian Trail in the other direction. She unlocked the door and I quickly got in before the rain got me too wet. On the drive back to Damascus, the rain started coming down hard and I was glad I didn’t have to hike or sleep in it. =)

The Dancing Bear B&B where Amanda and I would spend a couple of nights. =)


Although the Wise Shelter didn’t have a scantily-clad woman in the register, this one did! (The poem on the other page usually isn’t there—as far as I know, it has nothing to do with the photo.)



These little buggers are everywhere on the trail!

Rise is on the trail!

1 comment:

Grumpy Grinch said...

I vaguely recall my pre-pubescent scouting days; and I don't recall seeing or hearing anything I hadn't seen before. Trail registers are not a threat to the moral order. Do the girls post scantily-clad beefcake in the registers?