As with any culture, that which surrounds the hikers on the Appalachian Trail is a world unto itself. From the jargon to the equipment, these hikers are immersed in what is more than just a hobby, an exercise, or a casual fascination. Rather, it is a lifestyle, and it takes a uniquely dedicated individual to complete the approximate 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
We were delighted to have one such dedicated hiker as a guest at the Iris Inn. Bill, also known by his trail name “Ranger Bill,” is a hiker who hails from New Hampshire. On March 16, 2012, he began his Appalachian Trail trek in Georgia, and by the time he reached our B&B, he had covered around 856 miles of beautiful scenery, inclement weather, rough terrain, and memory-making adventures. But what’s a good story without a little romance? Not only did our fearless traveler leave behind a well-paying job to pursue his trail dreams, but he also bid farewell to his lady-love, knowing they would only see each other a few times throughout his journey. The Iris Inn happened to be one of their meeting points. After two months of separation, Bill and his girlfriend Michelle were reunited and eager to spend a few days hiking Shenandoah together. (Bill was also happy to have a bit of luxury and privacy: “It was a treat to stay in Hawk’s Nest with the hot tub.”)
We wish the very best for Ranger Bill and Michelle, and we thank them for the wealth of hiking knowledge and trivia that they shared with us:
– On average, around 2,000 individuals start to hike the Appalachian Trail, but only 20% actually finish it.
-A huge goal is to keep the weight of a hiker’s pack as low as possible. This includes carrying only necessities and making sacrifices such as sawing a toothbrush in half.
-In Damascus, VA, there is a huge event known as Trail Days where there is a hiker parade with residents of the town hurling water balloons, shooting water guns, and tossing buckets of water on the hikers that pass by. Damascus also provides free showers, medical screenings, and gear vendors with sales on hiking supplies.
-A Trail Angel is someone who has either hiked the trail before or is interested in the hiking culture and in turn, provides services to hikers. This includes leaving out coolers or food and drink, giving rides to hikers, and much more. The actions of Trail Angels are known as “Trail Magic.”