Locals have assured me this is a real phenomenon. Hikes have a hard time leaving this trail town. You’ll find the at the Mt Rogers Outfitters where I just bought new shoes. You’ll find the driving shuttles, like Gypsy Dave, who will be taking me back to Elk Garden. Paul hiked the trail a few years back and he and his wife now own Hikers Inn. Lone Wolf has hiked 16 times, but now works for the EMS.
And then there’s Crazy Larry, who runs a hostel that I stayed at last night. The folks that brought me into town were a little leery of dropping me off here, but it was a rainy Friday night and most places were full.
“The place might be a little…rough,” I was warned. It was a disaster area. But a clean one. I ended up in a “private” room–a blowup bed in with the washer and dryer. But for $25 I got a bed, dinner, breakfast, a shower AND laundry. Best deal on the trail! And then there’s Larry who is a true character. “I’ve moved around a bit myself,” he e
xplains. “But probably stayed out west the most. I had a few too many years of drinking and drugging and partying. I’m told I had a wonderful time!” And he laughs from his full belly, showing a mouth filled with more gum than teeth. Where I’m from, we’d call him a good ole boy (I’m not a redneck; I’m an Appalachian American) but mostly he feels accepted here, which is the most any of us can hope for in this life. And he’s spoken well of by the locals, which says a lot in a small town where everyone knows everything you’ve ever done and never forgets. He claims he’s looking for a wife and there are lots of women who are good to him here and bring him too much good food to eat. “They won’t marry me, but they don’t seem to want some other woman taking me either. Crazy Larry’s hostel could use a woman’s touch, perhaps. But he’s such a lovable guy.
Also, found my favorite trail name today: Dances with Snails. I’m committed to Plan B, but if I had it to do over….