Day 38: Kincora

Day 38

Mountaineer Shelter to Kincora

Miles Hiked: 16

AT Milage: 420.0

This morning Emma and I slept in, or at least tried to. It’s been so hot at night we can’t sleep in our sleeping bags without sweating a puddle. If we sleep outside our sleeping bags we risk getting bit by a lot of bugs. We finally got on trail after 9:30. Part of the reason we left so late is because we wanted to give our feet a longer rest. I like to have at least a full 12 hours of no hiking before I hit the trail again. My feet have been hurting so bad they often keep me up at night.

Today was really hard because Emma and I were so tired. We were both running out of food and it was hurting. When we counted how many calories we had to eat it was less than 2,000 which is no where near close enough. I felt like I was getting super irritable because it felt like my blood sugar was dropping.

As we were nearing the place we were going to camp I just kept thinking about staying at one of the hostels that was less than a half mile walk from the road. At Dennis Cove Road we ran into a hiker named Will and Sorchi. Will had his car and two dogs. He isn’t thru hiking but he has been driving to all the major trail heads and walking a tiny section with both his dogs. They camp in his car together at night. Will gave Emma and I some popsicles and made us sandwiches. It was the best trail magic ever. We were both starving due to not eating enough food and the popsicles were so cold and refreshing for the very hot day. Sorchi took off shortly after we left to go check out the Kincora hostel located about 0.3 miles from the road crossing. Kincora was a really cheap hostel that Emma and I were considering. According to comments on our mapping app it was owned by an Appalachian Trail Legend, Bob Peoples.

At 7pm Emma and I decided that a bed sounded really good, especially for only $5 so we headed to Kincora. The walk to Kincora was down a nice country road that went by meadows, horses, and an old barn. When we turned down the driveway we came upon an old looking cabin completely covered in ivy. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. We walked around the cabin and were really confused because no one seemed to be there until we heard voices coming from the back near a porch. Bob saw us and welcomed us in. He told us to make ourselves at home. Bob was in the middle of telling Sorchi one of his many stories. The inside of the cabin was covered in pictures of people summit-ing Mount Katahdin after they finished the AT. One of the walls had several certificates and plaques with Bob’s name on them, some of them designating him as a lifetime member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the American Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA).

Bob is a legend on the Appalachian Trail for many reasons. To begin with he plays a serious role in maintaining the trail such as building stairs, switchbacks, bridges, and the trail itself. It is easy to take the path that I walk for granted, yet everyday I always find myself in awe of how much work it took to move some of the giant stones to make a staircase or ensure water runs off the trail rather than on it. Bob is in charge of a trail crew called “Hard Core” that gets together to do major trail projects several times a year. When describing sections of the trail that he helps maintain to me, he knew exactly how many switchbacks, stone stairs, and springs there were within every mile of the trail he is in charge of. It is quite a large section and I am impressed. Bob has hiked the trail with Earl Shafer the first man to ever thru hike the Appalachian Trail EVER. He also has many tales of his hikes from all around the world. He told me he bought land in TN, and opened Kincora around 1996. He does not do it for money, but instead to meet more hikers. This year he should reach the number 25,000 for the amount of hikers who have stayed at his place. Bob really emphasizes how much the trail is about the people more than the hiking. He embodies the spirit of the trail in a special and unique way. Two years ago he was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame. A very special honor. I just wanted to describe how much of a legend this guy is on the trail. I’m sure there is plenty more of him I don’t even know about. If you are interested in learning more I would just google his name “Bob Peoples”. He is often invited as a special guest speaker at large hiker events.

At this hostel Emma and I both took a bunk bed upstairs. The only people staying there were Emma, myself, Sorchi, and a woman named Bookworm who thru hiked in 2000 but has helped Bob do trail work almost every year since. We got showers, did our laundry, and hung out listening to Bob and Bookworms trail stories until bedtime. I forgot to mention that Bob is a big cat person. He has several (maybe five?) cats that live outside the hostel and three raccoons. One of the raccoons came up to the porch and ate food out of a dish. They have learned to behave just like the cats. It is very odd, but gives the place an even greater fairy tale feel.

Happy Trails!

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