Every thru-hiker has stories from their experience hiking the Appalachian Trail. The truth is that I’m no different in this respect, however, the actual experiences I had were certainly unique. Take for instance my stay at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow. See when I hiked in 2007 I had never hard of this place. Then after I stared hiking and started talking to other hikers along the way I started hearing about Rusty. The talk surrounding what it’s really like to visit here was so filled with mystery and intrigue. When I finally made it to the junction where the AT continues on and a side trail to Rusty’s, I had to stop and really think about hiking the additional miles to get there. It’s a decision I’ll never forget, and the following story and pictures are from my experience at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow.
As it turned out I ended up staying several days. I made it to Rusty’s on a Friday or Saturday Morning and didn’t leave until Monday. The reason I remember not leaving until Monday is because two other hikers, myself and Rusty’s went to church Sunday morning. Rusty has a routine and attending a predominately African American, Baptist church on Sunday is one of the highlights of his week. I was skeptical at first as any complete stranger would be, but any feelings of being out-of-place or unprepared for what I was in for vanished once we entered the church. Maybe it was because we were with Rusty, or maybe it was normal for the amazingly friendly congregation, but being there at that time and at that moment felt so non-threatening and refreshing. The atmosphere was so welcoming it’s something I’ll always remember.
I’m unsure how many hikers have joined Rusty at church however, when he was explaining his Sunday morning routine to the group of hikers Saturday night, there were only the three of us that actually decided to go.
So there we are sitting in the middle of the church Rusty, Privy, Fuzzy Monkey and John. Everyone in the congregation is wearing their Sunday best. Because we are long distance hikers, we only had our our limited and tattered “hiker cloths”. So needless to say I wasn’t prepared to stand out or be the center of attention, but that’s impossible and especially today. Today, Rusty brought some new hikers and the Pastor was quick to point this out. As he stood for his morning announcements he asked if there was anyone new in the audience or guest. Of course all eyes were on us. At least that’s exactly how I felt. Not only that but the Pastor then asked us each to stand up and introduce ourselves. Apparently he was curious where each one of us was from and what we were doing. Each one of us then stood up to introduce ourselves to the congregation. You could image their responses when I introduced myself as Fuzzy Monkey. Seems the entire building was laughing and looking right at me. It was such an uncomfortable and embarrassing moment, but friendly at the same time.
I have to admit it was really an uplifting and moving experience listening to the entire congregation sing along to the music. Reflecting back on this story recently, I’m brought back to these wonderful experience I had when I was there. It’s a good feeling and a great memory from my Appalachian Trail hike.
Anyway, I felt it only appropriate to share just some of my photos and story of my stay in 2007. I hope you’ve enjoyed this small bit of what my hike was like as much as I enjoyed re-living it and writing it down to share. Thanks Rusty!
Happy Trails, Fuzzy Monkey