- July 5th, 2011
The Virginia Journeys 2011 ATC Biennial: notes by Karl Kunkel
Registration figures hit 936 for the 38th Biennial of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy conference, not a bad figure considering that it was held in the midst of the 4th of July weekend when numerous other events can draw people away. The number compares with past events.
The weeklong conference (July 1-8, 2011) is still going on as I write this journal. But I departed midday Sunday, July 3, so, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll write it in past tense. The conference included numerous hikes, bicycle excursions, group sightseeing outings for non-hiking spouses, lectures, many workshops and several evenings of musical entertainment.
This event, held every two years somewhere along the 2,181-mile AT along mountain ridges between Georgia and Maine, was the fourth such event for me. Typically, five or six volunteer AT clubs in a geographic area will band together and serve as that session’s host. They will arrange for the venue to be at a small college or some easy-to-reach place that can provide temporary housing, e.g., dorm rooms, athletic fields for camping and a gym for showering, a large auditorium for group assemblies and easy access to a stretch of the AT for day hikes.
To provide geographic diversity, the association typically alternates the location of the meeting between a northern location and a southern one with others chosen for their Mid-Atlantic location. Past locales for me have been Shippensburg, Pa. (Shippensburg State Univ, near Carlisle and Gettysburg); central New Hampshire (a vacation resort w/in driving range of Mt. Washington and site of the former “Old Man of the Mountain”); Johnson City, Tenn. (Eastern Tenn State Univ).
I caught the tail-end of the 1999 event at Radford Univ in Radford, Va., but missed the most important days due to work obligations at the time. I don’t really count that one. I’m trying to get at least a slice of these events, no matter how slight, so that when I do die I’m not forced to say “I wanted to go, but I was working.”
The 33 AT volunteer clubs between Mt. Springer, Ga. (north of Atlanta) and Mt. Katahdin park in Maine, help maintain the health of the AT, the longest national scenic trail in the world, by removing limbs and trees that have fallen after storms; they stave off erosion in these wet mountains that can quickly create gullies; they work on relocations of portions of the trail; and they build and repair wooden three-sided shelters – roof-covered sleeping platforms for “thru-hikers” (this is the correct spelling, in this case) spending five-to-six months traversing the trail from one end to the other and for weekender backpackers nibbling away at the various sections, hoping to become “2,000 milers” some day.
I wasn’t able to attend the entire July 2 – 8, 2011, event. But I did want to participate for a few days and to help out when I could, as my club (PATH – Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers) is one of the seven clubs hosting the event.
The host clubs chose Emory & Henry College, a small, 1,100-student, private school in Emory, Virginia, in the southwestern part of the state, a mile from Interstate 81. The nearest big towns are Marion and Abingdon. The college, with a very beautiful, green campus and historic-looking brick buildings with white trim, was founded in 1836 and named after statesman Patrick Henry and John Emory, a bishop in the Methodist Church in the early 1800s.
The campus is easy to reach due to I-81, a busy corridor that intersects with other key Interstates up and down the coast and Midwest. The winding AT is just a few miles away, so visiting section hikers wanting to add additional mileage to their total can chose a number of locations and hike as part of a group during the day.
The Wilderness Trail, the winding trail and wagon path that early settlers of the 18th and 19th centuries used for travel from the East Coast down into the Appalachian mountains, is a mile away.
On the drive over, I stopped in at the town next door, Glade Spring, on I-81 and was shocked to discover how torn up the buildings and trees were near the Interstate exit, due to an April tornado. They were still cleaning up. I could hear nonstop chain saws working on fallen trees and saw a backhoe removing debris from a totally wrecked mini-storage facility. Bright blue nylon tarps covered damaged roofs of houses and businesses all over the place. I hate to think what it looked like three months ago when it first hit.
These small colleges like the arrangement of hosting these summer events because the events generate much-needed rental revenue during a time when many small colleges are struggling and during the summer, when not much teaching is going on; and the campus employees, e.g., cafeteria workers, security, student workers and maintenance people, stay employed to service these events. Plus, these events “skew old,” attracting a more mature, less rowdy attendee.
Some people camped out on one of the remote athletic fields and walked to the nearby gym to get cleaned up. Weather during the evenings is typically cool and pleasant for sleeping. Others, including me, rent a dorm room, some of which are air-conditioned; others not. I rented a single, non-AC room, bringing a fan to pump cool evening air into the room. This was a bare-bones room with a single overhead light and bathroom facilities down the hall. I felt like a freshman again!
Meals were served at the student cafeteria. The meals I had there --- breakfast and dinner – were very good! One lunch consisted of a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich with some of the PATH campers, who were preparing their own meals at their campsite, using Coleman stoves.
Typically, people signed up for meals when registering back in April and paying for them at that time. When they picked up their info packets when arriving on campus, they would receive a meal ticket for each day’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Breakfasts offered many options: scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, hash browns, toast, cold cereal, oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee, fruit juice.
Dinners offered some variety, too. The cafeteria had three different lines, each one with a different menu. For example, on Sunday night, line #1 served stir-fried shrimp and vegetables with rice, which they actually stir-fried for each individual. Line #2 was beef brisket with egg plant. Line #3 was the vegetarian line, but they also served pizza and hot dogs.
My first night, Friday, after checking into my dorm (I dubbed “The Ritz Hillman!”) I decided to learn more about the nearby town of Abingdon, home of the famous Barter Theatre (all sorts of pro-level plays and musicals). So I drove through town and picked a local, family-owned/run place called Alison’s on the outskirts, a former drive-in structure. I was attracted to the faded yellow, 1950s-looking sign out front. I try to eat local when I can. I had a tasty salad with grilled chicken, something of a staple for me when I’m on the road – a combo of protein and raw vegetables.
While in Abingdon, I saw that the Virginia Creeper Trail (a Rails-to-Trails project) came right into the downtown from the top of Whitetop Mountain. I’ll have to check that out. I am familiar with the Creeper Trail going down the other side of the mountain into the AT trail town of Damascus, but not this route.
Friday night (7.1.11) was the opening reception. It filled a very large auditorium. Ned Kuhns, coordinator of the entire event and member of the Tidewater AT Club, got the evening started. The Tidewater Club is based in Norfolk, Va., on the coast, a full 200 miles from the nearest stretch of the AT. The club only manages 10 miles of trail. So they drive 200 miles to look after 10 miles of Virginia trail. But it probably looks pretty good. Ned, slightly built and short, maybe 60, has the bearing of a retired military man. He was wearing a “USNA” ball cap, so I’m guessing he is an Annapolis grad. Norfolk is a Navy town, too.
David Startzell, director of the Appal Trail Conservancy, was a key person on stage. He is retiring after 34 years with the trail. He joined the ATC in 1978 and worked his way up. The ATC is based in Harpers Ferry, W Va., right on the trail. He maintains two wardrobes: an ill-fitting suit for working the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and meeting politicians and numerous federal/state/local govt agencies; his hiking boots and outdoor gear are outfit #2, for checking out the health of the trail from Maine to Ga.
They awarded him some nice awards for his wall and a large, framed photo of a landscape of AT-connected land in which Dave was instrumental in helping raise and procure from various agencies the revenue so the ATC could purchase it. It sounded like a monster $28 million project.
That photo reminded me of the complex behind-the-scenes work that is involved in purchasing the land for the AT from farmers and real estate investors and /or trying to work out amenable land-easement arrangements, so the trail might go right through a farmer’s pasture or skirt a vacant lot.
Think for a minute about when the AT really is: a long, winding 2,181-mile, low-key, oftentimes invisible foot path in largely rural areas, constantly battling golf course developers, land speculators, condo/resort builders, multi-generational landowners with a deep wariness of anyone connected with all layers of government and red tape. So, while clearing briars and fallen limbs from the trail on a Saturday afternoon is difficult for us volunteers, the real work is in dealing with these government agencies and non-AT-oriented people.
That fact was made abundantly clear to me when an award that night went to a modest Don King, a land acquisitions specialist for the National Park Service. The AT consists largely of land owned by the NPS and the U.S. Forest Service. Over the past 30-plus years, Don helped purchase this often checkerboard patchwork of parcels of land on more than 2,000 miles of terrain.
And that’s only the AT. He has negotiated with hundreds of landowners over the years for other parks and national forests, too. That, to me, would be a mind-boggling job, to have to cultivate a relationship and trust over a number of years with an individual who owns maybe a couple of hundred feet of key property you need and gradually work out a legal contract where both parties are satisfied and feel secure with the arrangement.
My accommodations that night were, as I mentioned, a rather spartan third-floor walkup. The fan gradually drew some cool air in from the outside. My narrow mattress was placed on top of part a bunk bed frame, bringing the mattress to about stomach-high for me. It was too high to hop up on it. So I used the desk chair as the foot stool --- a rocking chair. I was careful to place my foot right in the center of the seat to prevent it from rocking on my way up – and down. The bathroom and shower were down the hall.
Did I mention the trains? A very active railroad track lay mere feet from my room. Every couple of hours I heard a rumbling in the distance and a few minutes later an express freight train came roaring past, vibrating the room, blasting its horn, screeching its brakes. And this was a long train with dozens of freight cars of all descriptions. One would think they’d give the engineers a break. But they didn’t seem to mind the 3:30 a.m. runs. A large chain-link fence had been built on each side of the tracks to prevent any further hapless pedestrians from wandering onto the tracks at the wrong time. How any pedestrian could not hear – or feel – an approaching train baffles me.
Saturday July 2, 2011– 6:30 a.m.
I woke up to slamming doors down the hall, as fellow residents with their day packs ran to the cafeteria to stoke up on grub, grab a prepared bag lunch and then meet out in the parking lot for their group hike.
I had a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, a biscuit, grits (you gotta have grits, even if you’re a yankee!), coffee and orange juice.
I had targeted two lectures that morning I wanted to attend: Nature writing and reading; (8:15am); and Changing with the Times (10:15am).
Most lectures were held in one specific, three-story, main building: MGlothlin-Street Hall.
I was surprised at how many people attended each of the classes I attended. I had figured that with so many options of activities at any given time, some classes would have only one student and the teacher. That may have happened, but I never heard of it.
My first class, Nature Writing and Reading, filled up quickly a few minutes after I and one other person sat down. Several wandered in late. The instructor was Jim Harrison, director of the college’s Outdoor Leadership Program and an adjunct professor of creative writing. He’s about 38, I’d guess. He explained that after he graduated from college, in Memphis, 14 years ago, he and his wife drove around the country, stopping in at colleges and asking if they had any adjunct professor openings. He stopped at E&H and mentioned his love for writing and the great outdoors.
E&H said, yes, they did have an opening! Since then, he has been teaching creative writing and English and is head of the outdoor studies program. A student can earn 12 credit hours (about four classes worth, as I recall) by hiking as much of the AT as possible and writing a journal and taking photos along the way. The object is to observe, interview and chronicle these things while on the move under somewhat trying circumstances. He emphasized that the course is more than merely hiking.
Jim picked two people he knows to do the brunt of the work at the day’s session: Johnny Molloy, travel/hiker writer (www.johnnymolloy.com); and Felicia Mitchell, head of the English Dept and a poet.
I had hoped to get turned on to some nature writers and publications and titles I might not have known about. But this session seemed to be oriented to getting published in local newspapers and regional publications, like “Blue Ridge Outdoors,” founded by a former coworker of mine.
Felicia, about 50, who appears to be a cancer survivor due to her gaunt appearance and hair that seems to be growing back, talked about getting a poem published in a cancer survivor magazine. She will also get a poem immortalized soon, having it written in stone with several other poets (7 other professionals and 8 emerging poets) at the new Tyson’s Corners, Va., Metro/subway station near Washington, DC.
Johnny, about 45, started writing after college (Memphis) while earning a living as a bartender. He went on a one-day backpack trip, got hooked on the adventure, jotted down his thoughts, contacted a small publisher which was looking for a Hiking in Florida book and things took off from there. He has managed to make a living at it and has published about 40 books since then. He camps out at least 186 days a year – one day over half a year in the wild, as he likes to tell people and has done so for 12 years.
Johnny is highly computerized: simple but time-efficient. He takes notes with a digital voice recorder and downloads that info into a file in his personal computer and can call up certain sentences using a voice-recognition system (don’t ask me to explain this; I was sitting in the classroom with my always reliable, non-battery-operated, 1930s era Moleskine reporter’s notebook and a ballpoint pen!).
He has solved the “drinking from polluted streams” problem by developing a tough immune system and digestive system that can withstand all sorts of bacteria and other types of pollution. So, he does not have to mess with a water-filtration system – at least, that is what he said. He doesn’t recommend this method to others.
He had a table full of small-press paperbacks on hiking on display in the registration/exhibit area. He signed books for a day and then was gone by Saturday evening.
Between sessions, I wandered along the hallways and noticed a couple of interesting framed diplomas: “Triangular Mountain Institute,” a Mount Heron, Virginia, high school; awarded to Sherman Lee Miller on May 30, 1930. Another was awarded to Myrtle Edna Cook , May 24, 1924 – for having “completed the course of study for Intellectual Attainment and Correct Deportment.”
A glass display showed a 1915-era weight-driven telescope-tracking Right Ascension Drive, for tracking the telescope at the same rate as the Earth turning. It didn’t need batteries, and it doesn’t have any computer chips that can get burned out.
Session #2 – 10:15am. Saturday, 7.2.11
“Change with the Times: Identifying Habits and Developing Skills for Adapting to a Changing world,” conducted by John O’Ranna, a 40-ish civilian working temporarily for the US Army at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. (I’m not sure what he does there, but he was a good teacher and seminar leader).
Most of the people in the class were club officers or board members of the various AT clubs. Because these are volunteer clubs, managing the membership and other board members can be an exercise in herding cats. Ultimately, a member can get fed up and just walk out on the club and join another club. So, trying to get people working together can be a challenge. Getting the younger generation involved is a challenge, as they are more interested in computer games. Getting people of different ethnic groups and races -- beyond the existing, traditional white world – is a challenge, too. Equally challenging is the interaction – or lack thereof – between the professional federal employees in the U.S. Forest Service and the Natl Park Service and the myriad volunteer organizations that are not run as professional organizations.
John didn’t have any magic answers, but he did offer ways for people to study their respective clubs and figure out how clubs work, how the clubs don’t work, how members interact, how presidents make decisions and what steps might need to be taken to effect positive changes in the club.
John showed us the “SWOT” chart: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – presented as a square with a letter in each quadrant. Under “offense” was S and O; under “defense” was W and T.
He mentioned that a club may be an “Adversarially” run club: top-down, with outside influences. Or “Collaborative,” creating respect, a uniform direction, but more prone to a lack of action as everyone tries to please everyone in the club.
Lunch consisted of a visit to PATH’s camping area where I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I contributed $2 to the kitty.
I then worked as a volunteer (12:50pm to 3:05pm) at PATH’s sign-up table where attendees could sign up to participate on a sample work-trip on Tues (7.5.11) and Thurs (7.7.11). I didn’t get a lot of business, as most people who were interested had already signed up and confirmed their interest. Not much “spontaneous” volunteering, except for a new PATH member, Evelyn, who is a real trouper and interested in trying different aspects of PATH, including the muddy work, as well as the more pleasant hikes. Evelyn was already working as a vol at the T-shirt table in the neighboring booth when she put her Jane Hancock on the list for the work trip. She lives in nearby Abingdon and will be a positive addition to the club.
I made a point of stopping by one display table to talk to author Leonard Adkins, a fulltime writer of hiking and nature subjects and a member of the Roanoke AT club. I wanted to get an autographed copy of “Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail,” by Adkins and the ATC, published by Arcadia Publishing, as part of the Images of America series. The paperback is mainly b/w photos with very good captions and some introductory remarks at the start of each chapter. I noticed a couple of the photos were shot by the late Gordon Burgess, a PATH member for many years and the person from whom I had bought a light blue V W bug 10 years ago. In fact, one photo has him in it. I also bought a packet of 15 postcards of some of those b/w photos in the book.
Following this vol session, I scampered off to the classroom building again, this time to attend “History of the AT in Virginia” by Susan Gail Arey, a 1976 thru-hiker (age 23 at the time) and a member of the Tidewater club. She noted that back in those days (1976) hikers did not use trail names and were not encumbered by the “traditions” that today’s thru-hikers have to deal with. Back then, everything was still forming, with few or no rules.
This was another lecture and slide show that was filled to capacity. A full 25 percent of the AT’s length is located in Virginia. As I noted earlier, the trail has continued to “meander” over the years, as land use has changed, water sources for hikers grew scarce on certain mountains and other variables. In fact, the original southern terminus of the AT was Mt. Oglethorpe, east of Mt. Springer, the current terminus. She showed us a striking map of a section through Virginia that was totally different between 1940 and today, with the respective lines about 50 miles from each other.
Susan, who visited her grandparents in Galax, Virginia, when she was a child, learned years later that the original AT crossed the street four doors from her grandparents’ house. Back in those days (the 1930s-40s) there were few hikers, so Susan suspects the people of that neighborhood rarely, if ever, even saw any hikers. But this new information prompted her to try to reconstruct the location of this early path. She took many photos, which she shared with the group. (e.g., “The trail would have gone down this street and turned left at this intersection.”)
She noted that so-called trail guides back in those days, the mid 1930s, were quite vague and relied on landmarks that might not exist today (e.g., “the red barn at the end of the dirt road”; or “the big oak tree next to Farmer Jones’s field.”)
She sold a $2 packet of information she had gathered, along with a multi-color-highlighted map she created herself. I bought one.
She said she wants to interview as many people as possible who are familiar with the AT of the 1930s-40s in Virginia and get their memories. One audience member mentioned a Herb Carlton of Greenville, NC., who once was a Western Union courier in the Va. mountains during that period. One of his jobs was to track down young thru-hikers to give them telegrams that had been sent by their parents.
The Tobias Smyth House: down the hill from the classroom building is a large log cabin I visited following the above lecture. This is the Tobias Smyth house, built in 1770 and moved from the original location, one mile north, to the current location in 1929. Smyth and the Rev. Creed Fulton were the ones who chose the names of Emory and Henry as the college name. In the front yard of this cabin is a a monument, overlooking the golf course (I’m not sure how many holes it has, maybe nine), commemorating the course as the Charles V. Lynch (class of 1942) “Lynch Links.”
I had dinner at the cafeteria with PATH member Paul Haag. We had stir-fried shrimp and veggies and rice.
Following dinner, we arranged to meet later at the camping area, where he would drive us to Abingdon for that evening’s entertainment of guitarist Wayne Henderson and Jeff Little. Wayne, about 60, is a noted acoustic guitar picker (thumb pick and finger picks) who lives in Rugby, Va., (pop. 7 !!), near Grayson Highlands State Park. He is also noted as a fine luthier (guitar maker). His skills attracted the attention of rock guitarist Eric Clapton, who once wanted to order a guitar. Wayne said he would build him one --- in 10 years, as there was a long waiting list. A nonfiction book, “Clapton’s Guitar,” by author …St. John, chronicles the stages of this guitar with a focus on Wayne’s workmanship and life.
Jeff Little, a pianist who has played as a duo with Wayne for years, has a day job as the dean of the High Point, NC, Guilford Tech Comm College’s Larry Gatlin School of Music Technology, just a couple of miles from my house. At the school, students learn the behind-the-scenes skills of stage concert production, such as lighting and sound. He plays a pretty mean “boogie-woogie” style.
This musical pair was recommended by PATH member (Mr.) Chris Bracknell, a retired Raleigh, NC, police officer, who currently lives in the Wytheville area and has seen the two perform many times. Chris actually lined up the gig and worked out the details.
Paul and I were able to sit on the front row, right center, so we could see both performers very well. During the intermission, we spoke briefly with Wayne as he autographed CDs. He explained that following this concert (which would end around 10pm), he had a 200-mile drive that night to Charlotte to stay with friends so he could make the 9:45am flight to Washington state for a multi-day work shop.
Wayne had a pretty good sense of humor and interjected jokes between songs periodically. He would usually set them in his beloved Rugby, Va., and get a relative into the joke somehow.
The circus comes to Rugby, and the elephant escapes. While the sheriff is searching for it, Wayne’s grandmother, who has never seen an elephant before, spots this creature in her cabbage patch. She phones the sheriff and explains that the creature is picking up her cabbages with its tail. When he asks what the elephant is doing with the cabbages, she replies, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I had not been sleeping very well in that dorm room and decided it would be better to head back home later this day to get my life and sleeping routine back to normal. But first, I wanted to check out two more lectures after breakfast.
Walking to class, I spotted a bumper sticker: “Friends of Coal.” I am, I remembered, in coal country, and much of the freight on those trains was likely coal-related.
The first was “Sewing and Repairs for Adventure” by Mary Holmes, a 50-ish Delaware resident and long-distance hiker. She was quite fascinating and had a full house of about 25 people in the room. The day before, she had taught a class on “Feasting in the Wild Country,” methods for preparing meals ahead of time for hikes, such as dehydration, and ending up with a good trailside meal. I think word had gotten out about how imaginative she was, and that attracted the extra attention.
Mary wasn’t born with these skills. She has learned through experimentation and has never taken a sewing lesson. Her background is in languages, law enforcement and teaching.
I (Karl) haven’t touched a sewing machine in about 25 years, following my upholstery training, and don’t have a machine now. But, if I tackle a project, I might be able to do most of the patterns and collect the proper materials to work with someone to make down vests, insulated stuffed wind shirts, tarps, ultra-lightweight tents, day packs, even things that are not hiking/camping-related.
One person paying particularly close attention was “Fred,” about 55, sitting next to me. He should have gotten a special award for traveling the furthest to get to the conference: Molokai, Hawaii – a tiny island with no traffic lights – 15 time zones away. He hikes on the island but wants to tackle the Appal Trail soon, after he makes his own sleeping bag, tent and pack. He brought one test pack to the class he had made himself to show the instructor. Up until two months ago, he had never sewed a stitch in his life. But he bought a little-used Singer portable machine w/instruction manual at a yard sale. I examined his work, and it was pretty decent.
She offered a reasonably priced (half price at $10 for us students) 135-page, self-published, how-to book, “Sewing for Adventure,” with pictures she created herself. It is a very well-done book. She had a food book, too, which I probably should have snagged, as I’d probably be inclined to use that one more.
Mary offered several websites and companies for procuring silicone-impregnated nylon and other materials: owfinc.com, therainshed.com, sailrite.com, campmor.com and questoutfitters.com (tent poles, shock cord, etc). She really likes “Gorilla” (brand) tape for repairing things, like torn tents. She likes Microfibre fabric for outdoor clothing.
She uses everyday items, when she can, like venetian blind cord. To get reasonably priced down feathers (hard to get) she buys a down pillow. Many of the nylon fabrics are color-defective or not quite up to the color continuity that large customers need. So, they are sold at a discount, but still structurally sound.
The book was clever, as were the slides she showed, in that she used Misty, her pet dog, as a model in the photos, resting in a tent or teepee and posing with a doggie-size sleeping bag (a quilt with a hole in it for its head) and some doggie attire with Velcro attachments.
She recommends using a soldering iron for making holes in webbing for grommets. The hot iron seals shut all the cut/frayed nylon thread. I was amazed at how versatile the hiking poles were, as she used them at the main pole and which could be adjusted for height easily.
She gave away several items of clothing she had designed and made, including a poncho or serape of Ultrex (like Gore-Tex) which can double as a protective blanket or tarp. A sturdy windblock fleece jacket she made with Velcro along the seams could be used as a stadium blanket.
Sunday, 7.3.11, 10:15am
The final lecture I attended was the introduction to the new Appalachian Trail Museum, located along I-81 in southern Pennsylvania, near the state line – Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pa. The speaker was the museum’s director and founder, Larry Luxemborg. The museum opened a year ago: June 2010. He started the project in 1998. The AT runs right past the front door. Already about 8,300 people have visited from 47 states and a few countries. Volunteers help keep the place running.
One notable feature of interest to long-distance hikers who have had their photo taken in front of the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry is that the pix are now cataloged on the museum’s computer. A hiker can go to www.athikerpictures.org and track down the pix via trail name, regular name and other means.
Larry said the museum is actively looking for artifacts to fill the museum: old t-shirts, trail shelter spiral-bound registers (sign-in sheets), old signs, old packs, old boots with a story – anything.
Following that lecture (actually, I ducked out early), I hopped into my car and headed home, going north on I-81 to Wytheville, Va., and then south on I-77, stopping for a Starbucks coffee in Wytheville. I needed to celebrate.
It had been a very full 48 hours.
….Karl (no trail name) Kunkel