Canaan Valley to Philippi

Walking across the country takes more dedication than just walking. It takes cooperation between the walker and the people who are helping the walker to get from point a to point b. On this morning, I had to wake up by 4:30am to be able to get a ride from my friend, Lauren, to the Canaan Valley State Park lodge. I waited at the lodge until the sun rose and I was able to get an alpine start to the day. The sun broke through the clouds and lit up the snow covered forest before me. The snowstorm was over and it left a landscape that reminded me of Narnia. It was truly a winter wonderland. It was a slack packing day which comforted me on the unfamiliar trails. I was told that the trails going towards Blackwater Falls State Park could be confusing and it made me nervous delving into unfamiliar terrain in snow conditions I was unaccustomed to. The snow slowed my progress but I was caught in wonderment, ever amazed at the beauty after the storm. I made it all the way to Blackwater Falls State Park and thought I was clear of the confusing parts but I was wrong. After dethawing in the lodge, I continued my quest into the unknown. I walked along a 4×4 road that was covered in frozen streams and pools of water. I was vigilent for the lesser trail that I was suppose to turn onto but when I referenced my GPS it showed I’d overshot it. Frustrated and concerned about the loss of daylight, I retraced my steps until I found the trail.. at least what I thought was the trail. Fallen trees altered my path and blue blazes faintly led the way. I was able to follow the trail for about a mile and a half when it stopped. I scoured the terrain in front of me. My GPS showed me where it should be but the direction I needed to go was in a stream and blocked by snow covered bushes. The brush was impossible to move through with the snow pack. I couldn’t give up and just turn around. That would be uncharacteristic of me so, I bushwhacked through a thinner section and searched for a blue blaze on a tree. Nothing. I reached higher ground and still nothing. At this point, I knew I had to turn back. I needed to return to an area with road access so Lauren could pick me up for the night. That meant traveling back to the Blackwater Falls State Park lodge. I felt defeated by the trail. If I had my pack I would’ve gone around and camped where I needed to but I didn’t so I had to make sure I was able to get back before dark. I didn’t stay defeated long though, I decided to investigate a trail that took me to an overlook called Lindy Point. I was on my way there when I came across two gentlemen, a father and son from Russia, that were cross-country skiing, or at least attempting to on such rugged terrain. They were the type of people I instantly felt connected to and the conversation flowed effortlessly. All of us were heading back to the parking lot at this point and when we passed the trailhead to Lindy Point I ignored it and kept walking with them. After a day of being lost in the woods and fighting my way through snow covered trees it was a nice change of pace to have a good conversation, with other people rather than myself. After Lauren picked me up she invited me to a game night her boyfriend was hosting. The idea fascinated me even though I was exhausted so I agreed I’d join. It was a good ol’ fashion night of bananagrams, werewolves (card game), and monopoly. This is also where I met James. James has been running a marathon a month for nearly a year now while carrying 45 pounds (5 gallons) of water to raise awareness for the lack of access to clean drinking water. You can read more about his story by clicking here.

With unpleasant weather on the radar and good company, I decided a rest day was needed. A trip to the nearest Walmart was taken in search of fuel, isobutane is a bit difficult to find in some areas, and I stocked up on protein powder and granola bars. It turned out that James was also a rock climber so the opportunity to boulder (you find a big rock and climb it without gear) was upon me and I couldn’t pass it up. I obviously didn’t have climbing shoes, although I seriously thought about backpacking with them, so James was kind enough to share his pair with me. I was not deterred by the extra two inches of empty space in the toe box instead, I layered two pairs of wool socks and made them fit. I felt the roughness of the limestone boulder and became giddy. I missed climbing. I gripped the rock and pulled myself up. It didn’t seem like much but it was glorious to me. For the next couple of hours I explored the contours of the boulder and cringed when my fingers stumbled upon a stagnant pocket of water hidden from view. Next on the agenda was to experience a live performance from a folk-rock band, Driftwood, at the local café. Lauren, James, and a whole group of their friends and coworkers would be there as well as a jam packed audience. There were no longer tables to sit at so we conquered a section of floor space to sit/stand when the show started. Once the music started it was impossible not to want to move to the beat of the music. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough floor space to dance. Another girl and I saw a man dancing around outside. We both looked at each other and decided to ditch our spots inside and join this exuberant man in swinging our arms and legs to the beat of the music. The quality of the music was exactly the same as inside but now there was room to breath and dance. People watched the band and us from inside and smiled. Our vivacious attitudes attracted more people to escape the stuffiness and liberate themselves from the crowd. If you ever wanted to know how to start a movement, remember, be the second person. You enable the first person to continue and encourage the people around you that it is okay. Before we knew it, there was a large group outside the café hoopin and hollering while dancing our hearts out! It was a beautiful sight! Then, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t a realization that I can put into words but rather a feeling and a split second understanding. I knew that whatever the reasons were for meeting the people I did and being in Canaan Valley, I had accomplished them. I was now ready to continue with my journey and felt fulfilled.

Lauren sprung it on me that she wasn’t going to be able to drop me off at my start point but rather a spot that was closer to her work. I was frustrated and disheartened. “Why did I take a day to slack pack when I was just going to have to repeat the miles anyways?” I thought with frustration. About five miles would be added to my day but I had to let that go. Though disheartened, I made myself remember everything she had already done for me. She picked me up in the middle of a snowstorm, fed me, robustly introduced me to all of her friends, checked up on me when I looked like I was getting too tired, and worked with me to find the spot to drop me off at that would meet my needs and hers. I also failed to communicate my needs with her. I assumed she’d be able to drop me off but never spoke with her about it. I had no right to be upset. When she dropped me off, I was a walker again. My mindset shifted to allow me to move freely from one place to another without feelings of attachment. I knew I’d want to come back one day, in the spring or summer, to further explore the beauty of the area but for now, it was time to move on. After two days of rest, my body was ironically tight and sore but after walking for a bit I caught a cadence that kept me moving the entire day. I came across road construction and a construction worker radioed to the other end that I was coming through, or at least something was. I got to the other end and the guys told me they were getting ready to move the cones for a car when they saw me walking towards them. They were surprised, curious, and wanted to know more! After telling them about my journey one of them kindly gave me some jalapeño, cheddar crackers from his lunch. I was touched by the generosity of him sharing part of his lunch with me. In addition, they shared information about a bike trail I could take instead of walking along the designated road route. It would save me from the stress of walking along a busy road and I was filled with gratitude. As dusk approached, I needed to find a place to sleep. I was in the middle of farmland and I had few options to choose from. The first house I approached I had absolutely no idea if it was the main house or not but I knocked on the door anyways. I heard no movement but saw a dog on the inside, except it wasn’t. I looked closer and realized it was a reflection and the dog was next to me! It was a giant mop of a dog but curious and excited to make a new friend. It bounded off the porch to around the house, I thought maybe it would lead me to the family, so I briefly followed and saw a bigger, nicer house. I almost began walking towards it but realized that going any further on the property would appear suspicious so I turned around and kept walking. The next house I came across looked empty so I skipped over it and headed straight to the neighbors. I saw a light on inside and knew someone would be home. I knocked, stepped back, and a little, old lady came to the door. The stereotype of a concerned, grandma figure jumped into my head and I had high hopes. “Surely, she’d let me stay in her yard.” I thought. However, I was wrong. “I’d rather you go along somewhere else,” she told me. I thanked her for her time and walked away but my physical reaction to the rejection surprised me. It felt like a knot had swelled in my throat and panic and uncertainty started rise in me. “What now??” I stopped and talked myself out of it. “What are you doing? You were perfectly okay thirty seconds ago. You are a stranger. She owes you nothing.” I wondered down the road and coincidentally a police car drives by. They didn’t stop to talk to me but they definitely slowed down and were checking me out. I was on a country road in the middle of nowhere so it was unlikely that police would be patrolling the area but also equally unlikely that the response time would be that quick, if the lady called the cops. Let’s just call it a happy coincidence. I ended up finding a nice patch of woods and disappeared in them. It would be my first night of stealth camping. The biggest problem by far was that in order to hide my mustard yellow rain-fly I set up in a thicker brushed area and was constantly being stabbed by a thorny vine or perfectly placed face level branch. I had to constantly be on guard or one wrong movement would result in a slap in the face or a casualty to an eye. Nonetheless, I prepared for the chilly night and hoped to not be woken by an angry property owner.

My destination for the evening would take me to Philippi. The American Discovery Trail route creates a loop to take people through to learn about the history. The first civil war battle occurred here when Union soldiers fired a cannon on the Confederate troops. There were no casualties but the first amputation, a leg, occurred and that later sparked the first prosthetics business that is still one of the largest in the business today! After roughly 21 miles and at least two miles of dodging heavy traffic I made it. It was Valentine’s Day and I had a hankering for some good, wholesome, unhealthy food. After grocery shopping at the Family Dollar, I mosied a mile down the road to a KFC. I walked inside and was met by a wall of heat and curious eyes. No matter where I stood, while waiting for my food, I felt like I was in the way. After I got my food, I went to sit outside and wait for my host for the night, Alex. In that moment, I just wanted to devour the food in front of me and not be a side-show attraction. Alex dropped me off at his place while he finished work and I went into full-fledged veg-mode. I sat on the couch, watched “Tears of the Sun,” ate a bag of Sour Patch Kids, ate a mega-sized Hershey’s bar, and played with Alex’s cat, Aster. Resting at its finest!

Antioch to Canaan Valley

After a short, ten mile day, I found myself in the yard of a chicken farmer. I had gotten a later start to the day because Lawrence drove me to visit the Nancy Hank’s Memorial before he dropped me off. The memorial was a simple log cabin that was a replica of the cabin Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, grew up in and a plaque of where the original cabin once stood. It was a nice little adventure before I was once again dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Time went by slowly as I walked but I enjoyed it. The weather was beautiful and the unusual warmth lead me to look quite spunky. I had my winter boots paired with my 3/4 length pants, short sleeves, and mountaineering sunglasses. Onlookers seemed to be confused but I paid them no mind. The little entertainment for the day came from playing “red light, green light” with the cows. As I walked passed them they would begin to follow me but when I’d look back they’d freeze in place. They’d stand there staring at me, waiting. Night was approaching and that meant I needed to find shelter for the night. By “shelter” I mean I needed a lawn for my tent. I could try to stealth camp but the idea of possibly waking up in the middle.of the night to an angry property owner is displeasing, so I try to avoid that. I came across a trailer home at the top of a hill next to a chicken farm. This would be my first official “random knocking on the door to set up my tent” moment. A woman opened the door and stared at me. I had my three sentences ready to go. “Hello, my name is Amanda. I’m walking across the country. Can I set up my tent in your yard for the night?” I barely got the words out of my mouth before she said a quick, “yeah,” with a slightly confused look. I was caught off guard by how easy that was. I walked to the side of the house and set up my tent. It was one of the few warm days I’ve actually slept outside and I enjoyed the country air drying out my feet after a long day of walking and a sunset over the rolling hills. In the midst of all this, I noticed that in the window was a baby monitoring camera that wasn’t there before. I was being watched. I found it more humorous than anything but it brought to the forfront of my attention how little trust there was despite their kindness. On the other end of the spectrum though, I now was the star of my own reality TV show. What was I going to do next?? Stare at the sunset or make dinner? Find out on the next episode of “Walking.” I also wanted to make strange shadows in my tent and odd noises but I decided against those due to a rainy night. I didn’t want to risk getting kicked off the lawn. Interesting enough though, while looking at me directions for the next day it came to my attention that I was indeed not on the trail. I walked straight instead of turning right because I thought the straight was the right… anyways, I was only about a mile off trail and I would decide in the morning if I needed to backtrack or reroute. If I was able to get water from the house, I would reroute. However, if not, I would need to backtrack to a stream and fill up water before continuing my day.

What a glorious morning it was! I didn’t have to fight the cold to put my tent away. The numbness in my hands was nonexistent. I ate an unheated mixture of oatmeal, granola, and cookie mix because I could. There was no need to warm my body this morning with a hot meal. The irony of this warm morning was that I was heading towards the summit of the Dolly Sods where a snowstorm was predicted to hit that night. I was basking in the small comforts of warmth while it lasted. The woman who allowed me to stay in her yard came out to talk to me and gave me a bag of granola bars and hot chocolate. She asked me if I needed anything so with gratitude I handed her my water bottles to be refilled and there I got my answer for the morning. I would reroute to get back on trail. As I walked along my reroute, it became fairly obvious to me that I took the route of steepest terrain. I went up and down the steep road grades but I was happy. Breathing came uneasy but my muscles never burned. When my feet would start to hurt I would hit another hill and my focus would shift. Today was an uphill battle. As I turned onto the road that would lead me to the top of the Dolly Sods, a car stopped next to me. There were two guys and on first impression they seemed to be concerned about me going up the mountain with all the snow but then the one in the passenger seat asked me, “Where’s your man?” I found that question to be annoying for several different reasons but mainly because of the questions that frequently ensue. First off, I get defensive and begin to question motives when I am asked that. Second, it is then implied that I need a man to be able to do anything adventurous. Third, that question usually puts me in a situation where I have to dance along a thin line of politely declining any advances while maintaining an atmosphere of lightheartedness. In this case specifically, these guys lived at the bottom of the mountain and they would be my first point of contact if I got into trouble on the mountain in the coming snowstorm. So, while I tried to talk to the driver about the weather conditions, the guy in the passenger seat tried to entice me with a romantic ride into the sunset on a four-wheeler. I want to make it clear that although I found the interaction annoying I never felt threatened. After all was said and done, I continued my way up the mountain. The sky became more blue the higher in elevation I got and I wondered how the weather could shift so violently after a beautiful day. I hoped that the unpredictable nature of the Dolly Sods would work in my favor and the storm would postpone a day. That was my hope. I reached the top and the view was breathtaking. It reminded me of some of the backpacking I’d done in Yosemite and I was flooded with fond memories and warm feelings. With that, I eventually made it into Red Creek Campsite. I was painfully aware that I was solo on top of the mountain. No one in their right mind would be there with the coming storm let alone try to camp but there I was. My most exciting moment came when I discovered the pit toilets were unlocked. Having any type of sheltered toilet, flushable or nonflushable, adds a sense of civility and I thought it was the greatest thing on earth. Until, I had an idea. “It is going to rain and the snow tonight, I can shelter in the pit toilet!” Ah, what a grand idea it was. I could be protected from the rain, wind, snow, and be warm (methane gas from the poop). What a good day it was to be alive! Now, I know what you’re thinking, “gross!” and my counter argument will always be, “but warmth!” I regret nothing.

I woke up the next morning with one thing on my mind. “I need to get off the mountain before conditions get worse.” The question was how? The ADT follows a wilderness trail or there was a bike alternate that added roughly 6 miles. I wanted to take the wilderness trail to experience the beauty and shorter route. However, it would be easier to get lost and off trail there were unexploded ordinances that could blow up if disturbed. So, when I need to stay on trail but can’t find the trail, big problems are created. I meandered down the path to explore my options and almost immediately I knew that between whiteout conditions and a poorly marked trail, I could defintely get lost. I decided that I’d rather be safe than sorry and took the alternate, which was the road. Before I could go down the mountain, I had to first go up. I battled my way upwards and onwards as I tried not to get blown away by the wind. I thought about the story every parent tells about walking to school uphill in a snowstorm every day. To my parents, I have now whole-heartedly experienced this sensation but I would arguably say a more intense version. All of my water froze. In order to get any water, I had to bust through the chunk of ice at the mouth hole and embrace the few water droplets I could persuade to exit the bottle. However, I did have a light at the end of the tunnel. A friend of a friend was suppose to host me that night in Canaan Valley. I just had to get there. This hope fueled my decisions as I continued dehydrated with my eye lashes now freezing together. Do not be mislead, I was not having a terrible time. Conditions were harsh but as long as I kept moving I was able to stay warm. On the downhill I felt like I was skiing with my trekking poles and zigzagging down the mountain. I eventually hit the bottom but soon realized that I had to go right back up another mountain. On the open stretches with farms, the snow blew so viciously it created whiteout conditions. There wasn’t a soul out until I decided I had to pee and almost immediately a truck pulled up next to me as I’d just dropped my pack on the side of the road. He said he’d been tracking my tracks for a while and wondered what anyone was doing walking in this weather. With that, he gave me a ride a few miles up the road so I would be able to bypass a dangerous section. I then walked the last few miles to the Canaan Valley State Park Lodge where I was able to dethaw and wait for my friend to come get me. It was suppose to drop into the single digits at night. I was more grateful than ever to have a warm bed sleep in.

Green Springs to Antioch

The moment I stepped off the canal I felt a weight lift off my chest. I’d been dancing with the border to West Virginia most of the canal but now, I would cross the Potomac River and not return. I wandered on the country roads and walked through small towns. My senses were stimulated by the cars that passed me, by the variance in terrain under foot, and by the sight of the mountains and rolling hills in the distance. A man named Charlie lived along the trail and had offered his yard to me to set up my tent. This meant I had a destination for the day and the only thing between me and my destination was an elevation gain of about 600 feet with a series of uphill and downhill battles. West Virginia fully welcomed me with a slap in the face. Meaning, after 166 miles of a straight, flat towpath I had an entire state of rolling hills and no adjustment period. My breath labored as I traveled into the higher elevation and sweat poured down my face. My muscles burned but I felt alive. I found it interesting that although the human mind tends to be geared towards efficiency, it craves challenge. I realized that the mountains provide these challenges but also offer delayed gratification. I had to put in work to reach the top of the mountain and then I relished in the ease of a downhill stride. I went up and down over and over again until I hit the town of Fort Ashby. I knew I was getting close to my destination but the directions given to me confused me. I didn’t understand the fraction system used for the roads. I walked along main street until I found a giant rock to sit on and I tried to make sense of the directions I was given. I knew Charlie’s house was along the trail and I couldn’t miss it when I got there but I had to get there. A woman, Sue, pulled off to the side of the road and asked if I needed a ride somewhere. She saw me carrying my pack and was sparked by a sense of euphoria. When she was younger she road tripped across the United States with a friend and felt that it was one of the best decisions in her entire life. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to catch a ride. After all, I knew I was close and then I’d have the opportunity to learn about the life of another amazing person. We drove down the road with our eyes alert for the sign, “American Discovery Trail Welcome.” We followed my turn by turn directions for the trail and noted the streets that would act as back stoppers (they’d tell us we went too far). We winded down the road searching and it felt like a mini scavenger hunt. We finally found the sign and were pleased with the success of the mini-adventure. Charlie’s house was further down the trail than I expected but I didn’t mind the few lost miles in the car. I knew that somewhere along the trail the miles would be made up and that the mini-adventure I got to experience with Sue was worth it. I was met by Charlie’s son-in-law, Andy. He saw me getting out of Sue’s car and I realized the humor in the situation. I was walking across the country yet I showed up in a car. I assured him it wasn’t what it looked like while I attempted to gather all my things out of the car. I was excited but felt discombobulated. Andy carried my pack over to the spot in the yard with the softest grass and told me that I could set up my tent there or anywhere else in the yard. I listened intently as he gave me the run down of his family, the location of dinner, stew with venison, the wifi password, and an overwhelming sense of a warm welcome. I then prayed with him as we stood in the middle of the yard. I listened to his words as he gave thanks for my safe arrival but when he thanked God for the things he and his family could learn from me, I was surprised. When I think about my walk I see it as a selfish act but in that moment I was given an alternative view point. My presence alone enriched the lives of this family and that is a thought that often goes unheard. As the prayer ended, Andy’s children, Landon and Lilly, burst out of the house and ran across the yard to us. They’d been waiting the entire day for my arrival and almost immediately they reminded me of my brother and me. Their age differences were the exact same and I wondered if my interactions with my brother at that age would have been similar. They ran around the yard and when I began setting up my tent they became my little helpers. Charlie arrived home and I was once again consumed by the feeling of warmth and love. It was time for dinner so Lilly and Landon walked me up the driveway across the street to meet more of the family and to enjoy the stew. I was surrounded by a loving village and knew that it would be impossible for me to leave the next morning. By the end of the night, my head was swarming with thoughts and feelings. I had been given information about the next areas I’d have to be traveling through and it would be four or five days until I could next resupply. I would be walking over the Dolly Sods and reach the highest point of the trail on the East Coast. This also meant more extreme temperature, unpredictable weather, and designated wilderness. With all of these thoughts though, I knew I wasn’t alone and people wanted to help me. The sun had long set by the time I went to retire in my tent but that gave me the opportunity to see the night sky. Due to cold temperatures, I have been in my sleeping bag before sunset and stayed there until sunrise. I had missed the beauty of the night sky and on a cloudless night such as this one the stars sparkled across the sky.

I had gone to sleep the night before knowing that I wasn’t ready to leave this family so I made it a rest day and coincidentally it was Superbowl Sunday. I’ve never spent much time watching sports but I found it humorous because when I started my walk I was questioned about being able to watch the Superbowl and here I was. I got to meet Whitney, mother of Lilly and Landon, in the morning and she introduced me to “Eggs in a Nest” or also known as “Toad in a Hole.” It is toast that has the middle cut out of it and replaced with an egg that is over-easy. You take the cut out piece of toast and dip it into the egg yolk in the middle! My mind was blown. I spent the first half of the day with Whitney and her kids. I loved seeing the dynamics of the family. Lilly and Landon were balls of energy and to the untrained eye they may have seemed like wild children but to those who know better it was obvious that they were vivacious and curious about the world around them. It was beautiful to witness their village of a family encourage and guide them in the outdoor environment while showing them the grace of patience and sharing with one another. The other half of the day I spent in Charlie’s household where the main objective was to feed me. They showed me a fantastic recipe for pizza rolls! You take croissant rolls, spread the dough flat, lay pepperoni on top, add a cheese stick, and roll it up, Simple and delicious! I talked with Charlie about logistics in the area and tried to figure out water. There were springs all along the mountain but I didn’t have exact locations. As a result, I had to have faith that when I needed it, it would be available. In the process of figuring out all the logistics, Charlie drove me to a Dollar General so that I could buy groceries. I didn’t realize it before I started walking but Dollar Generals are everywhere and provide a cheap, easy grocery shopping experience. The only downside is that their shopping carts are smaller so I have to play tetris with my pack to get it to fit. All of the ones I have been in thus far are laid out exactly the same and carry the same items yet every time I go in one of them I walk in circles around the aisles to see if something I hadn’t noticed before jumps out at me. Grocery shopping has also turned into a mind boggling activity. Which product has the most calories and nutrition yet weighs the least?? It makes my head hurt thinking about all of it. When Charlie and I returned from the store the Superbowl was scheduled to start soon and I of course was most excited about the commercials and half time show. I watched the first half of the game and then went to seclude myself so that I could rejuvenate. I love being social and interacting with people but I’ve also realized that I tend to be an introvert and need to take time for myself. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out self-care.

It was time for me to leave Charlie and his village of a family. I didn’t really know how to say goodbye and in a sense I also knew I wasn’t. I was just leaving for an extended period of time. I worried however for Lilly and Landon. I was unsure how they would be affected by the coming and going of a hiker such as myself. I have always found it difficult to have people enter and exit my life but now I’m the one entering and exiting. My hope is that they see what a unique environment they are growing up in and continue to appreciate the time spent, no matter how long or short, with the people that they care about. With that, I said the rest of my goodbyes and absorbed all the love. I headed out and began walking again. Not two hours after I left, a man, Lawrence, was digging a hole along a farm and asked me if I was on the trail. I got the impression he had been waiting for me and after talking with him for a few minutes he told me that his nephew that was working the fields notified him that there was a backpacker coming through. He told me about the other backpackers that him and his wife, Judith, had hosted and I once again began to feel like I was part of a bigger family. Just from hearing stories from my host families, I feel like I know the previous hikers and am slowly putting pieces of a puzzle together. I met Lawrence’s wife as she drove by and it was decided that I would slack pack for the day and then they’d come get me. Before I started walking again, I asked Lawrence about the smells in the air. It was a familiar smell but different and I couldn’t figure it out. I had decided that it was either manure or sulfur but when I asked him he told me that it was probably the high-grade chicken manure being spread on the fields. He of course didn’t notice the smell and although it was manure it was a scent of both familiarity and curiosity for me. When I took off walking without my pack it felt like I was flying down the road. Time was non-existent and I’d jog on the downhills. I kept my trekking poles with me so as I jogged downhill I felt like a warrior princess on the hunt! I carried the trekking poles near my side and they were my spears. My senses were heightened and the smells of my surrounding environment captivated me yet, I couldn’t identify the smells. They’d have familiarity but eluded me at the same time. I wanted to try to describe the smells so I could ask Lawrence later but how do you describe smells?? What I did know though, was that I was breathing in the cool, mountain air and witnessing the smoke escape the chimneys of the houses nearby. I also noticed that these metal crates were on the front lawns of most of the houses I passed and in them was usually a plastic tub. I couldn’t figure out what they were for! Later Lawrence told me that they were for holding the trash. Not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed with that one. I walked roughly twenty miles and then Lawrence came and got me. Dinner was amazing and followed by fantastic conversation. Lawrence gave me the assignment of imagining the senses and thoughts of the Native Americans that once lived in the Dolly Sods and how they were same and different now. So, I’ll have to let you know on that one. I enjoyed conversing with Lawrence and Judith and once again felt the urge to stay another day and get to know them better but this time I knew I couldn’t. However, I felt torn because I knew that Lawrence and Judith wanted me to stay another day. I had just taken a rest day though and needed to keep walking for the sake of progress.