New state! It is hot and sticky here, too. And there are bugs.

Day 15: near Rosedale, VA to Elkhorn City, KY
May 31, 2011

For an “easy day,” today was pretty tiring. After a quick downhill first thing in the morning, we had another long sweaty climb up the side of Big A Mountain to Council. We’d heard the Appalachians are tougher than the Rockies because of the steepness and the constant up and down. Hopefully this is true, because our morning climb was unpleasant. We had a hot and sweaty lunch in Haysi where Andrew finally found the gazebo he’s been talking about for days. It was a little disappointing, possibly because it was in the parking lot of a bank. After lunch we had another 3 torturous climbs up to Breaks Interstate Park. It was definitely the sweat highpoint of the trip. We also noticed a quick shift from farm country to coal and logging country. The roads are busier with big, big trucks. Most of the drivers are pretty courteous and aware of us on the road, though every once and a while someone buzzes the towers. But, we made it to Kentucky! Our introduction to the state was less than stellar but things quickly took a turn for awesome. A nice couple ended up letting us camp in their backyard. After we set up our stuff, they offered (much needed) showers, cold water, leftovers, and laundry. After eating, we chatted with them about coal mining (he is a retired miner), local Memorial Day festivities (including Civil War reenactments), and their travels around the states. Their back lawn was very cushy, but the coal trucks and trains all night were a little noisy. In the morning, they made us eggs and bacon before we set off. An amazingly hospitable couple!

  • Starting point: near Rosedale, VA
  • Ending point: Elkhorn City, KY
  • Slept: in the Stapleton’s backyard
  • Miles: 53.12
  • Average speed: 9.9
  • Notes: average speed is misleading…speed today was binary: 3-6 mph while climbing and 25+ downhill

Day 16: Elkhorn City, KY to Hindman, KY
June 1, 2011

We started the morning with another 2 demoralizing climbs…the constant up and down and the steepness is killing us! At the bottom of the second hill was a snack shack–the perfect spot for a mid-morning ice cream and corn dog. We had another really hot, though shorter climb and then stopped for lunch in Bevinsville. The scenery was similar to yesterday, though a bit more rural and obviously poorer. We passed mostly trailers, Confederate flags, a lot of No Trespassing signs, and garbage. There were a lot of coal trucks again and the most unfriendly yelling from cars we’ve experienced so far. In Pippa Passes we stopped in search of water (so hot and sticky!) and found free corn dogs and egg rolls courtesy of the friendly gas station owner. In the early evening we arrived in Hindman where we stayed at the Knott County Historical Society biker’s camping / hostel / b&b. David welcomed us with sweet tea and showed us around before our hot showers, free laundry, more sweet tea, and complimentary baked potatoes. Highlights: Andrew got the first flat tire of the trip. Andrew and Hillary had to outrun an angry dog (note: there have been lots of dogs, but we made a concerted effort to outrun this one).

  • Starting point: Elkhorn City, KY
  • Ending point: Hindman, KY
  • Slept: Knott County Historical Society biker’s camping / hostel / b&b
  • Miles: 64.3
  • Average speed: 10.4
  • Notes: to reiterate, the Appalachians are really freaking steep.

Photos: church sleeping from previous night, cool street name, Kentucky!, coal!, our hosts in Elkhorn City.