May 14, 1998

5/14/98 Waynesboro, VA

18.1 miles (836.6 total)

Other than Delilah barking all night and bugs dining on all my available skin, I slept pretty good. Rusty was up at the crack of dawn to tend the chickens and the goats. Seems, Rusty bought this place in 1980 and started taking hikers in 1982 as an alternative to Waynesboro. So far, he figures about 9000 people have stayed at his place since then. There’s no phone, no electricity, the lamps are kerosene, has a rain water shower (very cold!), and a wood burning kitchen stove. Says he’s lived this way since he was sixteen. He’s cut himself from all the modern, especially electronic world. But for all that he’s well informed (found Kiplinger’s and Time on his coffee table). He says he hasn’t hiked the trail, but the trail has come to him in the form of hikers. His nephew Spicoli lives here fixing up Volkswagens and I guess has a new job with the forest service.

Alternative to Waynesboro

Everyone hanging out at Rusty's Hard Time Hollow
That's Rusty sitting just past the door

At one point, we spotted several people watching the house from the road. Turns out it was a NBC News crew. Various media have wanted to do a story on him but he always refuses. People either hear about his place by word of mouth, or from the business cards his friends put in the shelters. He had his information taken out of the guidebooks because of its ties to the "internet".

Lots to see in the privy

Ghandi, Smiley, Veto, DB, Samson on Rusty's ceiling
Earl Schaffer (bottom right) was the 1st thruhiker 50 years ago

Veto, Smiley and Ghandi were going to slackpack south from Waynesboro with Buck giving them the shuttle ride. This was so they could stay one more night at Rusty’s. Samson was taking the day off, doing a few chores to pay his way. But ever the purest, I put my pack on and headed back to the trail where I got off.

Usually the trail went up and over any obstacle
instead of around, especially rocks like these

While it was clear as a bell at Rusty’s, Morpin shelter was in a dense fog. Slowly, as the morning miles passed under foot, it got clearer and hotter and muggier. The trail was fairly level but again like yesterday, miles of difficult rock trail. Add to all that, the bugs were pretty thick. I was surprised when I discovered I’d done the first 7.8 miles in 3 hours.

But as the day went on, I began losing steam. To make matters worse, I got lost. Someone failed to remove some white blazes from an old route, and I tried to follow. After bushwacking for 15 minutes, I decided I was lost. The maps are useless, so I ended up guessing where the trail I’d left was. Found it with not much trouble but lost some time.

Found Veto and Ghandi at the "Rocks". After talking with them, I moved with a little more fatigue the 2 ½ miles to the next shelter. Seems weird to make such a large shelter so close to a town. Ended up walking the last 5 miles in under 2 hours, but dead tired.

The town was one of the largest 'almost' on the Appalachian Trail and the road towards it was a very busy highway. I stood hitch-hiking at rush-hour for a while. This was not the kind of traffic to stop for a hot-odoriferous-tired-hiker. As I gave up, I heard a loud truck noise come up from behind me. I turned just as a beat-up pick-up truck pull in front of me. Inside were 3, clearly blue-collar guys getting off work from some dirty, dull job. "Where'ya headed?" the driver leaned over his other two companions. "The YMCA." "Hop in."

I've got a heavy backpack on and I try to climb into the bed of the truck. But before I actually get in, the truck takes off. I slam against the side of the truck bed - and it MOVES! All of a sudden, I'm scared. This is a city-boy's nightmare in the back of some redneck's rusted-out-truck. The truck takes a turns in town WAY TOO FAST and I fly across the bed of the truck bed. 'Where am I going!' and 'I am in trouble!" keep going through my mind. The truck never really stops, and I'm not given enough time to respond to any thing that is going on. All of a sudden, we stop as I'm slammed forward. I look around and see a wooded area and some non-descript buildings and thank god I'm still in town but terrified about what happens next.

I jump out, thankful that I'm not riding with these guys and then, because I'm on the driver's side now, he asks where I'm coming from. "I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail, the whole thing."

"Good luck," he says, pauses as we look at each other eye-to-eye, and then he takes off. A kindred spirit? Even now, I don't know if his eyes said envy or longing. Not sure how his 'buddies' felt, but all of a sudden I felt a connection to the driver that said "you are safe." As they drove off, I started to walk around the nondescript buildings that turned out to be the YMCA, just like I had requested.

After setting my tent in a park near by set up just for thruhikers, I took that much needed shower. Turns out Billygoat is here too. So both of us took off to do laundry and eat pizza. I carried his clothes back to the Y, while he stopped by the store to get us some ice cream. We sat up in the lights of the factory across the river and talked till late. Even though this town is too spread out, I’m grateful for the company on a rainless night.