The more you hike out here, the more you appreciate small gestures from complete strangers. A simple ride into town, or a snickers bar is enough to keep a big smile on your face. I've met a few people the past few days that have gone above and beyond being kind.
The first incident would be the awesome staff and owners of the Devils Backbone Brewery. After you walk out of the Three Ridge Wilderness you come across Reeds Gap. We had heard word of a brewhouse/restaurant not far from the trail. After a quick hitch in we got to the beautiful timber structure nestled into the valley. We ate, had a few IPA's and almost went back to the trail when another grouped hikers came along and convinced us to stick around. The owner approached us and was super nice and bought all of us a round. I was caught up in watching the Orioles game at the bar. We were told we could stay til close and camp in the field across from the property for free. When it was last all the bartender asked us what kind of growlers we wanted. We were slightly confused but they said they were going to fill 3 growlers up with whatever we wanted! After they closed the manager came around and opened up "the depot" for us to sleep in. Just a big storage house but it was nice and had running water and bathrooms. He topped it all off with another 6 pack of the "eight point IPA", which is delicious and told us to enjoy. We did. The generosity of those people was unbelievable. To treat a group of dirty smelly hikers like that in an all too. I've place is above and beyond southern hospitality. If you are a hophead, try the "Congo Pale Ale" or anything really. It will be the least I could do for those people.
The next day we made the quick 19 mile jaunt to Waynesboro, Va. The Grace Lutheran Church runs a bit of a hostel for the thru-hiker season. Cots in the basement, showers, AC, tv lounge, and FREE FOOD!!! They have a few simple rules to follow but that is not a problem. They cooked the night before and let us have all the leftover spaghetti and ice cream we could eat. Not to mention the table of cookies, pop tarts, cereal, fruit, crackers and reese's cups. ALL FOR FREE! What on earth would make some people so nice to complete strangers? The people are the AT and they are the best in the world.
I have 120 miles through the Shanendoah National Park ahead of me and can't wait. I better see some bears. I have almost convinces myself that we are done with the southern portion of the trail. Its somewhat nice to overlook miles of flat farmland and not 5000' peaks. I will miss the big mountains but we will have plenty more climbs awaiting us in new england.
My NOVA visit starts next week and I am excited to visit all my family and friends once again. See you then...