A story from the trail

by Jennie

Looking back, I never told any Appalachian trail stories as was planned. I am going to share a blog entry of my buddy Voodoo, who thru-hiked the whole thing this summer. We hiked together for about a month. You can guess which trail name is mine. And PS, I most certainly did not sleep in the haunted shelter. This story is from our first and only slack packing experience.

“Eight of us slackpacked today from Tru Britt’s compound, which is hiking with pretty much only water and food. Jess and I chose to only do 20 miles slackpacking whereas everyone else we were with (Shakespeare, Gargoyle, Happy Feet, Bacon Dog, Tiedye Bandit and Jennaaaay) did a full marathon. Jennaaaay being the crazy athlete that she is decided to run the first 12 miles and then caught up to Jess (now J. Rex) and I to finish off her last 14 miles by hiking. Jess had stayed two nights with the legendary trail guru Warren Doyle (a 37,000 mile long distance hiker) who runs an AT school in the fall and advocates for as light a pack as possible so she was pumped about our slackpack today. Everyone we slackpacked with was going southbound on this section so we ran into a lot of confused friends headed northbound.

J. Rex and I had a really good time catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in about six weeks. We crossed a dirt road and I noticed a deer skeleton that I pointed out to J.Rex. As we looked at it, we noticed more and more deer skeletons on the hillside. We got really creeped out because the whole side of the hill was literally covered in deer carcasses, some of them were only a month or two old which means they were poached. We later found out a local backwoods clan poaches deer and dumps hundreds of carcasses off the side of the road that attract rats, coyotes, bear and snakes. Sometimes the carcasses pile up so high that they have to bulldoze them over the side of the hill. Why the forest service doesn’t do anything to prosecute the family I have no idea but it was a really small rural town we were in so it could have easily been pretty lawless. The deer graveyard was really creepy and we moved on quickly. When our friends Northstar, Connor and Gordon passed by the graveyard later in the day, they came across two silent people standing next to the carcasses with nothing but guns and no cars parked anywhere. They hiked on quickly without incident. Funny things happen out here so you always have be extra alert at road crossings while hiking!

We ridge walked for most of the day and ran into a tough section with little water. One of the springs was dry and the stream we passed in the extreme heat looked cold and delicious but word was that the water was contaminated from a construction project upstream. Jennaaaay, J. Rex and I were running low on water but heard from north blunders that there was a trail magic box of gallons of fresh water in a couple miles that had just been restocked. That water saved us otherwise we would’ve had to walk into town or to some stranger’s house for water. I don’t think the last option would’ve been very safe judging from the deer graveyard and some of the houses with no trespassing signs on them.

We crossed a highway bridge and being as there’s not much to do out here in terms of entertainment, we entertained ourselves by making truckers on the highway honk their horns. I spent the rest of the afternoon listening to the crazy stories Jennaaaay and J. Rex had been having and we saw a rat snake literally surf down the side of a mountain in the leaves. Hang ten bro!

Since we were nearing the end of our slackpack we started getting really excited about the meatball trail magic that was waiting for us that we had enjoyed so much the night before. We sang/yelled all the way down to Laurel Creek Falls (which the thru-hiker campsite down there told us they throughly appreciated our talents) and jumped in the creek to swim. Jennaaaay and I danced into the trail magic soaking wet and playing what should be a Grammy award winning “Call Me Maybe” by the oh-so-talented Carly Rae Jepson. After trail magic, we dried off back at Tru Britt’s and our huge group of guys and gals spent the night in the “party tent” with the fire roaring, listening to Jennaaaay and Tru Britt guitar battle and everyone else told ghost stories. Tru Britt taught us the secret to why the fire in his party tent hadn’t gone out in over 6 months and it was because of P.O. – you have to put Pine on first, then Oak and you have a roaring fire. I went to sleep first and I guess a young curious bear came into camp but I was fast asleep and didn’t hear a thing.

J. Rex, Jennaaaay, Bacon Dog and I left the falls around 3pm and immediately ran into a huge 5 ft rat snake on the trail. They’re harmless but can be a little aggressive so we left it alone. We hiked a bit farther and ran into a really disheveled guy who was extremely frightened by a rabid raccoon that tried to attack him when he was looking through his pack. He threw his pack on it to stun it and it ran away but warned us to be very cautious. Out here you really have to face your fears and we had to hike the next part of the trail regardless since it was so remote. We armed ourselves with rocks, pepper spray and our hiking poles but luckily we didn’t see the raccoon. Our friend Tiedye Bandit was ahead of us and the coon charged him. He ran backwards hitting it with his poles but it kept charging him. He turned to run away but he tripped and fell. The coon was at his feet and he kicked it and finally one of his trekking poles hit it in the head and it ran. He told us at the shelter that night that if you get bit by a rabid raccoon you only have 24 hours to get your first rabies shots otherwise it’s 100% fatal. We didn’t hear of anyone else running into the raccoon and at the shelter that night Tiedye’s stories got wilder and wilder which made for some good entertainment out in the woods.

The shelter we stayed at was rebuilt and relocated after 2008’s double murder attempts so some people were a little freaked out about ghosts. The shelter used to be near Dismal Falls which is right next to a road and some crazy drifter killed two hikers there, stole their gear and then tried to shoot two other guys who stopped by the shelter for the night. Somehow they crawled out with gun wounds to a house nearby and lived. Rumor has it the drifter had gone to jail for killing hikers ten years prior and then mistakenly was released even though he told officials he was planning on killing more hikers. Anyways, this is one of the reasons we all look out for each other on the trail and any talk of something weird flies like wildfire amongst the hikers. You can’t always rely on the authorities to get to you out here so we band together and look out for each other. That being said, I slept great in the supposedly haunted shelter that night!” – Katie Accomando, my hero

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Congrats to these amazing individuals who just finished hiking 2,168 miles from Georgia to Maine continuously  to reach Katahdin! May we all learn to have free spirits.

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