We woke in the morning to a beautiful surprise a partially frozen stream and undisturbed, glittering white snow. We broke the winter scene after coffee and breakfast heading to Mt. Roger’s and Adventure Damascus Outfitters. After spending some time in town we left for a new destination. A place that we were long overdue to visit and at times never thought we would actually see again, Roub’s house in Blue Ridge, Virginia.
“Roub” is another member of our original tramily and basically the glue that kept and continues to keep us all (the tramily) connected. Roub, as all of my trail sisters would say, is our “Southern Gentleman”. Darwin and I met him our first night on trail at Hawk Mountain Shelter and hiked with him every day for probably about 1300 miles after. Just like other members of our tramily, we shared moments of pain, exhaustion, hunger, and elation together. Roub being 60 when he started his thru-hike was also somewhat of a father figure to all of us; caring and giving as any parent is with their children.
He and his wife (fondly named Mama Roub), were a saving grace to our tramily in more ways than I could ever explain. They opened their home for a week to a group of us and Mama specifically helped me through a deep homesickness for my own mom and family. All this pleasantness came to a halt one foul night on trail in Pennsylvania. Exhaustion, heat, and thirst got the best of us the three of us leaving odious words lingering in the humid night air and others left unsaid. We would hike separately from that night on. Darwin and I didn’t know it but our time on trail was coming to an end and the three of us would never regroup. We watched Roub summit in 2015 without us along with the rest of our tramily and fellow hikers. That my readers is a pain I wish on no hiker.
We had spoken with Roub since that night but not in person. Roub, however, was there with us a year later in spirit when Darwin and I returned to the AT in 2016. He sent us a care package in Hanover, NH with his specific notes and helpful hints he wrote the year before. I read his notes every day thinking of him often and we called him after we finally summited Katahdin. After all of this, I can’t describe to you what it was like to finally see Roub and Mama in person. To embrace them both, a moment that was long overdue.
Just like with Cider the day before, it was like no time had ever passed. We talked about everything…summiting, life after trail, hikers, our time on trail together and so much more. Roub told of our other fellow hikers and tramily that had visited before us and about those we have never met. We had been away out West so long…
Over the next few days Roub, Darwin and I rediscovered sections of the Appalachian Trail together. What was practically the backyard for Roub was again like coming home for Darwin and I. The White Blazes were again welcoming our return as we hiked up to Dragon’s Tooth seeing the shadows of Uncle Tornado Tim The Lizard King of Detroit and Cruise Control. We fell into our paces just like we did before, Darwin ahead, me in the middle, and Roub slightly behind me until a rock scramble or decent (he’s always faster than me then). We laughed a lot but also felt comfortable when silence fell between us.
We arrived at Dragon’s Tooth the rock monolith on the top of Cove Mountain (this is found at the end of a .3 Blue Blaze Trail off the AT). I didn’t climb the giant tooth last time I was there but I went over half way up this time. I listened as Roub pointed out the mountains in the distance that surrounded us. I forgot how clear you could hear the bovine moo from below. We talked about the few nights before this section, sleeping in the church graveyard and the shelter infested with what surely were Tarantulas. The cold nipped my nose and burned my cheeks but yet I was content and happy, lost in another time as I stared off into the mountains around me. Something about that place….
The next day Roub took us to the Peaks of Otter a place we could only faintly see from Dragon’s Tooth the day before. We drove on The Blueridge Parkway passing the AT in several places. I nodded to the memories of Supermoon, Cruise Control, and Uncle Tornado Tim as we drove past, a part of us all still there. Roub had brought along a hiking buddy Matt for this hike and it was fun to listen to stories of their backpacking trips together or misadventures if you will. I found the hike up the peaks refreshing and somewhat challenging. I was still adjusting to the steep terrain of the East. I felt revived. The cold air was filling my lungs. My muscles were working, and I was sharing a trail with my husband and friends both old and new. This is life. We arrived at the cabin on Sharp Top hiking between large boulders and then a little further for an amazing view of Jefferson National Forest. We listened while Roub explained the history that surrounded us, a characteristic of his that I have always appreciated.
We left Sharp Top and drove further down the parkway to jump on the AT heading South. The four of us hiked the short distance to the Guillotine and admired this iconic spot before moving on to the summit of Apple Mountain. The weather and miles on your feet can make a big difference on your perspective of a place. A bittersweet reminder of what it means to hike a long-distance trail.
The rest of our visit with Roub and Mama was spent in good conversation, those feelings from Pennsylvania long forgiven and repaired. Darwin and I left with a strong sense of home. The Appalachian Trail is just that, a trail. It’s the people who make the journey worth traveling. It’s the people around it and on it, that really keeps bringing us back. Those people are our home.
Top Pics: Shelter Life (Roub, Cider, Me) & New Dos! (Cider, Roub, Me
Bottom Pics: Pizza Delivered To The Woods! (Darwin, Me, Roub)
Charlies Bunion (Roub, Me Cider, Cruise Control)
First Tramily Portrait (Roub, Cider, Hot Sauce, Me, Darwin)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:
Read Roub’s Last Trail Journal Here. Fair Warning, It’s Lovely.
Review Coming Soon! A Device Allowing Me To Pee Standing Up
Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail – NEW BATCH OF ITEMS COMING SOON!
This Is Me On Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries
Other Older Posts From The AT You May Enjoy:
A Series of Unfortunate Events