Hamburg, PA

Just a short note to let everyone know that I really appreciate the support and comments on my blog.

I’m still stomping along and looking forward to getting North of Rocksylvania.  I’ve heard rumours for weeks about how rocky the trail gets, but at least it’s flatter than what I’ve been through.  I’m really pleased that I got my heavy boots back before I hit this section.  With any luck I should be across the Hudson River in a week and a half or so.

I’ve slowly learned that there are a number of hostels along the trail run by church groups.  They are usually very inexpensive places to stay, and they feed really well.  All one has to do is remember to wait for the saying of the grace, and watch ones language.  It’s like Sunday dinner at the preachers house.  It keeps my spirit buoyant, and precludes my saying anything too controversial.

The most colourful one so far is the “Trail of Hope Pentecostal Hostel”.

I landed there while hiking with my old trail chum “Gadget” who seems to keep showing up.  We both started hiking the AT on March 3, and keep running into each other.  As fate would have it we arrived on a Saturday evening.  The hostel had a serviceable piano and after we had supped Gadget amazed everyone with a dazzling display of talent. I had no clue he could play at all.  Turns out he used to be a church organist with an amazing repertoire of contemporary music as well.  He so impressed the hostel’s proprietors and the preacher that they invited him to play for the church service next morning.

To demonstrate gratitude for the evening repast Gadget accepted, and the rest of us hikers agreed to attend the Pentecostal service.  The preacher, in her exuberance to get Gadget to play for the congregation grossly underestimated how the regular organist would react.  He was an elderly man with a very vocal wife.  So, when the service began with Gadget replacing him, his wife stood up and started berating the preacher in barely civil terms in front of all the parishioners.  It was all very entertaining with the regular organist storming out the front door with his wife in tow.  Gadget of course, left the organ and ran out the door after them apologizing for the injustice and offering to step aside.  After some few minutes the preacher and Gadget managed to coax them back inside. Gadget returned to the keyboard and after a few rousing choruses of Onward Christian Soldiers all settled down into a what I presume to be a fairly normal Pentecostal Church service.  The sermon had something to do with “God’s Anointed”.  It seemed a rather convoluted message to me but the congregation sanctioned it with much moaning and amens.  After dismissal, we hikers all agreed Gadget’s contribution to the service superseded the preacher’s by some considerable margin. 

Following the lively church service the Pentecostal Hostel hosted a magnificent BBQ with enough wieners and potato salad to sink Noah’s Arc.  Ice cold watermelon concluded the feast, and the Sunday festivities wound down.  We AT hikers grabbed our packs and poles and departed by ones and twos.

A few hours hiking brought Gadget and me to a homely sedate shelter deep in the bush.

In future I will be actively seeking hostels with a church affiliation.

Till the next bazaar experience, thanks for your time.

Long Stride

Light Heart – Easy Pace

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