April 21, 2001

4/21/01 Waynesboro, VA

10.2 miles

This morning it was hard to leave June and all her stories. But we had a 2-mile climb ahead and I needed to get to the post office before it closed (this being Saturday). I couldn't believe it, but Mike and George got on their bikes and started to ride up, up, and away. The road out in front of the Bike House is almost straight up (I exaggerate a bit)! I pushed mine for a while, keeping up with the guys, then jumped on when the angle seemed to lessen. The ride up Highway 250 was slow but steady. I think I did pretty well getting to the top. Mike and George had stopped to use the phone while I headed on to Waynesboro.

It was strange being on this road again. I had hitch-hiked into town after a hot day on the trail back in '98. So it was a bit of deja vu as I flew down the mountain. I should have realized I was going to lose that 4 miles of climbing. It's just the fate of a human powered traveler.

My first stop was Rockfish Gap Outfitters, just like I remembered from my hike. They found me a box I could use to mail some of my excess gear home and I bought a fuel bottle and windscreen for the stove. Turned out that one of the guys had done the TransAm about 10 years ago with his wife on a tandem.

Kind of neat recognizing all the landmarks like the fire station, Weasie's (breakfast tomorrow...yippee!), down to the post office, and then the library after that. I'm eating lunch across from the laundromat as it is pouring down rain outside. So much for a 20% chance of showers.

The more I thought about it, I kept wondering why I needed to stay in a motel. I'd slept the last two nights inside on couches. Too much more of this and I might go soft. So I went to do laundry and waited to see if the weather would clear.

I was feeling better than I had in days. With a full stomach, and fresh, clean clothes, I was ready for anything, even more rain. So I rode down to the YMCA to see if they still let hikers/cyclists camp. "We sure do!" said a smiling Vickie. Her son was all questions as I quizzed him on his U.S. geography. A member of the Waynesboro cycling club stopped to chat, too.

After a much needed shower at the Y, I headed back to the library to check my email. After trying to type more of my journal for the e-Newsletter, I realized I just won't be able to get it done in a timely manner. So I emailed Ken [that's me] and told him to expect my journal entries in the mail to transcribe. Only a few more errands to run, like finding some sort of pad to sit on and a few more groceries. Then I went in search of the theater. I can't even remember the movie we saw when I hiked through town three years ago. I stopped to ask someone and they said it had closed a couple of years ago. "Progress!" they said with a poor laugh.

Oh, well, I can entertain myself. I called mom to report my progress and to just let her know I'm OK. After that it was just sit in camp and let the sun go down.

"Excuse me," as my head popped up from my journal. "I didn't want to startle you," the older man said as he approached. That's when I saw the "Rusty" embroidered on his cap.

Rusty has a place about 20 miles outside of town and has been taking in thruhikers since 1982 as an alternative to Waynesboro. I stopped there on my hike only at the insistence of Ghandi, a fellow hiker who had stopped there on his cross-country bike ride a few years before. I was glad I stopped. And I had planned on a second short day to stop there again.

Like June Curry, he's not a young man, but you wouldn't know that by looking at him. We sat and chatted about his health, his potato fields, and moving his berry trees. He said the last couple of years, he hadn't broken even on taking care of the hikers and had considered closing that down. But too many people asked him to try one more year. "The hikers are different now," he said. "Because I don't charge, they think it's free. They come in, share my house, eat my food, and some I even cook for. And they won't even consider a donation to keep it going," he lamented. "They even steal the t-shirts I had made." Rusty is a man from a different time. He hunts on his land, fishes, barters his crops for the things he needs. The "Hard Time Hollow" has an outhouse, a spring house to refrigerate perishables, kerosene lamps, and even a woodburning kitchen stove. He supplements his income with occasional work, the donations from hikers, and his t-shirts. He even willed his place to the hikers when he is gone. That will be a very sad day.

But it was good to see him and he was excited that I was stopping back at his place tomorrow. "Maybe we can find a place to see a movie like you wanted to do here," he said as he walked back to the truck. This trip keeps getting better.