Wow, where do I start? God was definitely showing off when he painted the land in West Virginia! And the people here are just a bonus!! I could stay in this beautiful state for a long time. We have met so many beautiful people of God and have been sowing seeds in the hearts of people we meet everywhere. The day we left the Ours we got about 10 miles up the road and came over a hill and saw a spectacular view and said, "let's ask if we can camp in that yard". So we knocked on the door and were greeted by Buster the American Staffordshire Terrier, a.k.a. pitbull, and Dr. Bill Signor. He had let two other ADT hikers camp on his property a couple years ago and so he knew of the trail we were on. He said we could camp and sent Buster out to help us set up our tent! He was a great pal to have around even if he did smell like cow manure! Buster that is, not Dr. Signor!! Jeff, Buster and I sat and took in the mountain air while Dr. Signor went for a swim in his pool. Just as Jeff and I were about to pass out Dr. Signor came out and said we were welcome to come in for some hotwings if we were hungry. So we thought we should accept his hospitality and join him and his neighbor, Gayle, for some hot wings. He was a very interesting character and had lots of stories to share with us.
The next day we walked from Dr. Signor's to Greenland gap to Scherr, where we were to pick up a package. Greenland gap was a beautiful gap in the mountain. The beginning had a little spring fed creek with a small water fall which fell into a nice swimming hole about 10 feet deep or more. The water was very cold and refreshing. We met two brave young boys who were jumping off the side of the cliff into the pool of water under the water fall. It looked like fun but I decided not to try it. I thought I would just enjoy it vicariously! After cooking up a nice pot of mashed taters we saddled up and walked down the 1 mile long gap. The spring fed creek ran along side of the road the whole way. At the end of the gap we took a right to go to Scherr. Immediately as we turned right there was a giant eye sore of a major highway being built to go from Virginia to West Virginia. It really took from the beauty of the place. Another couple miles we made it to Scherr to the "Best" store, which consisted of a snacks, drinks, hunting/fishing licenses, hunter check station, telephone, post office, and the manager even had a sharpening stone and he got Jeff's knife real sharp! They had both of our packages and we could not wait to open them for we had ordered some new hiking poles. Edmond Summit, the outfitter who geared us up for our trip, mailed us the poles and he included some other goodies as well. Some yummy cliff bars, a nice new insect repellant bandana, a new "Edmond Summit" camp towel, and a new water bottle! Thanks John!! After talking with Grant Kimble, the manager at the store, for a while about what we were doing he showed us a nice little camping place behind the store we could use. It came with a fire pit and everything! He even came out and lit a mosquito repellent torch for us! After setting up camp I soon learned that there was a litter of baby kittens! They were so cute I couldn't hardly stand it. I just wanted to squeeze them all night. Fortunately for them though they were not as exited about the idea and I did not get to catch but one of them, and that took a long time with me sitting and watching them for a good 30 minutes. I got some adorable video and pictures though! That night I did not sleep well, it was hot and I tossed and turned all night. I finally fell asleep a couple hours before we had to get up and was not in the best of moods. My left foot was swollen and aching and lets just say there are days of womanhood when I wish I was a man. So we ate breakfast and saddled up once again and headed down the road. We only got 3 or 4 miles. I was walking extremely slow. I felt like I had been run over by a freight train. Thank the Lord a kind woman picked us up and drove us a few miles to the road which went up to Dolly Sods.
We asked the nice woman if she could take us to the little stone church at the end of the road to see if we could camp there. We wanted to ask permission from the pastor first so stopped at a house which we thought may have been the pastors. We pulled up and there was a license plate that read "God's Way", and thought surely this must be him. We got out and spoke with a man named Mike and he was not the pastor of the church we saw but just so happened to be a pastor of another church. After visiting with him and his wife a while, they said we could just stay in their basement. I said sure but on one condition, you take us to church with you in the morning! They had actually been worshipping in someone's garage lately which we thought sounded perfect. So we bid farewell to the gracious woman who picked us up and set up camp in the Humphrey's basement. The Humphreys had 5 children, nine 6 week old labrodoodles, 4 dogs, 2 cats, and a lot of love!! They took us to eat at this scrumptious Italian restaurant in Keyser and we made a trip to the grocery store. The next morning when we got to church I was mesmerized by the spectacular view from the backyard of the garage we were in. I had to make myself sit still during the service and not run outside to stare at Yahweh's creation. Everyone there were so gracious and it was such a blessing to worship God with them. While we were visiting with the Humphrey family they had mentioned that they owned a bass guitar and had bought it 4 years ago and wasn't sure why. After Jeff got a hold of it they said they now know why they never got rid of it. They had never heard such music come from a bass guitar! I will have to agree, Jeff is quite the artist when it comes to his instrument. Ok enough boasting! Thank you Humphreys for taking us in and giving us a nice cool place to stay. May the Lord bless you and all of your kids, animals, and family members. After a wonderful time with the Humphrey family, the pastor drove us to the top of Dolly Sods because it was raining and my foot was still a little swollen. We set up camp and got in the tent about 6:30 and did not wake up till 8:00 the next morning. We were exhausted!
Upon waking up at Dolly Sods Wilderness Area we sat and talked to a musician and his wife and daughter for a while. His name is Andrew McKnight. He has a CD out called "Beyond Borders" and if you are looking for some really good songs sung and played by a very talented singer-songwriter, I suggest you look him up!! He is in our friends list on Facebook. It was very nice of you to allow us to share your campsite for a night Andrew! Thank you so much for the song too!! We hope to see you on down the road sometime! God bless you.
Dolly Sods is such a wonderous place. It is part of the Eastern Continental Divide and is very similar to a Canadian Tundra. We walked around and found a lookout that offered an amazing vista. I can't even begin to describe the extent of the beauty in this place. We were in awe for several hours until we realized that Jim should be showing up any time. Jim Shaner was the man who is prayer walking across the nation on the ADT. The one who we met back on the C&O canal. He had called and asked if he could join us at Dolly Sods, and we agreed to meet on Monday afternoon at this specific campground. So we started walking back to the campground to see if we could find Jim. We ran into Lois instead. She asked if we were "those hikers who were walking across america." We looked at her puzzled and said, "um...yea I guess we are." She said that a man back at Bear Rocks (3 miles away) told her that he was looking for us, and that he had given our blog to her too! She said that what we were doing must have really touched this guy because he was sure excited to try and find us, and he told her about what we were doing. We thought it must be Jim. She offered to take us over to Bear Rocks in her truck to try and find him so we hopped in. As we were driving we saw a car coming down the one lane road and it wasn't Jim. IT WAS HAROLD!! Harold was our trail angel back in Keyser! We jumped out of the car and ran over to him and gave him a great big 'ol hug! We had mentioned to him that we were headed up on Dolly Sods and he decided to come see us on his way to see his mom! We all went back to our campsite and talked for a while before he had to get on down the road to take care of his mom. We just love you Harold!! Thanks for the cold waters and the lovely surprise up there on top of that mountain! You just made our day! We can't wait for the day we get to run into you again! God Bless You and Keep You!
After Harold left, we decided to go back to the rim (the one with the great view), because that was the "phone booth." We were thinking that Jim should be showing up soon and wanted to call his wife to see what time he had left. After leaving his wife a message and making a few other phone calls, we started back to the camp. Halfway back we saw Jim rounding the corner on the trail with his "One Nation Under God - Walk Across America" shirt on and his signature camera bag slung around his chest! What a heartwarming site that was! Hard to believe that it had already been a month since we met and walked with Jim. Walking down that lonely mountain road on top of the Eastern Continental Divide, surrounded by beautiful PURPLE FLOWERS and the most vibrant butterflies one could imagine, we met Jim for the second time. We walked back to the rim with Jim so he could call his wife and take a few pictures. After that we went back to the campground so we could set Jim's tent up. After a few attempts we finally figured it out and jumped in the car to head up to Bear Rocks. Bear Rocks is an amazing overlook that has fields of wild blueberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, and a few other varieties leading up to it. Jim, Kristin, and I picked our way through the berries and rocks to the look out point. It was breath-taking to say the least. We took pictures and sat and talked for some time. After spending the afternoon at Bear Rocks we went back to camp. We talked and ate some ramen noodles. Oh yea, before we met up with Jim we met two young christian couples who were camping in the same campground. They invited us and Jim to dinner at their campsite. So as evening approached, the three of us went over to their campsite and helped them prepare dinner. They were making hobo dinners. It consists of potatoes, veggies, and meat wrapped in a cabbage leaf, wrapped in foil and placed on an open fire. It was sooooo good! After a wonderful meal shared in fellowship they broke out "Jenga!" Now see, Jim had never played Jenga, and to make a long story short, he has finally earned his trail name. "JENGA JIM!!!" Ha! Love you Jenga Jim!! After we got our fill of Jenga, we all sat around the campfire and talked about God and sang songs. At some point in the evening someone suggested that we wake up early and catch the sunrise out at the rim of the mountain. So we all agreed and said goodnight. What a wonderful evening spent with brothers and sisters in Christ! We can't wait until we meet again.
We set our alarm for 5 a.m and pressed snooze till almost 6. We realized how late it was and rushed out of the tent and headed toward the lookout to watch the sunrise. We met up with the other couples on the way but I think it was too early and everyone had just got up so we remained silent all the way to the lookout. When we got there Jim foresaw that the sunrise was going to be beautiful because of all the big fluffy clouds in the sky. The sun began to poke up out of the mountains and we were all just speechless. This had to be one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever witnessed. I cannot even describe it and the pictures do not show it in its entirety. I wish all our loved ones could have experienced it with us. After the breathtaking display of God's artwork that he painted right before our very eyes we headed back to the campsite to eat a little breakfast and pack up our tent so Jim could drive us into town to see if we could find some better backpacks because ours were starting to take a toll on our bodies. We stopped in Keyser to have some pancakes and gravy one more time at the Royal restaurant. They were delicious! We made our way towards Cumberland MD to meet some friends of Jim's, Steve and his wife who's name is in my head somewhere and I will probably think of it while I am sleeping! We called around some local outfitters to see if we could find one that sold backpacks and the only one we found was actually out of backpacks. So we decided to call up John at Edmond Summit and get some advice and we went ahead and ordered them to be shipped to us. So hopefully within the next week we will have new backpacks that will make our trip much more enjoyable. On the way back to Dolly Sods we stopped at the Humphrey's so Jim could tally them on his list of people that agree to pray for America. I also got to see those precious little puppies again and Jeff got to play the bass one more time. After we left we decided to go check out Seneca Rocks, a rock climbers mecca. We ate at a little restaurant that was over priced and not very good. The people were nice though!! We then went back to Dolly Sods using a different road and stopped at a nice little nature trail loop. When we got back to camp we met Christian and his friend, whose name has slipped my mind. They were some interesting folks. They had just come from a biblical prophecy convention. After conversing with them about an array of topics, mostly all concerning God and the bible, we went to bed and they went on a night hike. Yikes! The next morning we learned they came upon a bear that had growled at them. I am glad I didn't go with them. I thought it would be a good idea if all the christians at the campsite got together to pray before we left and so I asked the two younger couples if they would like to join us for prayer and they said yes. So we all met at one campsite and prayed for one another. It was so wonderful and such a privilege to be able to live in a country where we can do that. To all the brothers and sisters we met at Dolly Sods, may the Lord Bless you and keep you always and forever.
Jim walked us to the trail head of the Blackbird Knob trail, the trail that would take us to Canaan Valley State Park. He said he would meet us on a ridge a few miles away on a park bench. So we headed into the wilderness. It was an absolutely gorgeous hike. So many wonderful plants and scenery and BLUEBERRIES!! Wild Blueberries. I thought I was going to have to drag Jeff the bear out of the woods because he could not stop eating all the blueberries. Every time we turned a corner I was sure there was going to be a bear munching on blueberries and not like to share. Thank God there were no bears. When we arrived at the park bench Jim had already gone. We saw him from across the way but he did not see us. The view at the park bench was spectacular though and we sat and took in the mountain air for quite a while. When we headed down the trail we came to a fork and had to figure out which trail we were to take. We chose on and walked for about 15 minutes and Jeff said, "I hope this is the right trail". I said what do you mean “the right trail.” I had remembered the other trail being on our map so we headed back to it and walked about 10 minutes down it. Jeff then decided we should look at our ADT directions and sure enough the first trail we took was the correct one. Jeff said if we bushwacked due west through the woods it would probably be faster. I said whatever lets just go. So we headed west right through the woods. We got a much closer look at the Monongahela Forest! We had to saw a few limbs down but we made it and right to the place we had turned around on the other trail the first time we were on it! So we took the correct trail and made it to the parking lot where we found a note from Jim which said he had gone to the Ranger Station and would be right back. So we called the ranger station and they said he had just left and reported us missing! We thought it was sweet how concerned he was for us. When Jim got back we hopped in the car and headed to Canaan Valley State Park Lodge where we got a room for Jeff's birthday. It is always so nice to get a shower and a bed to sleep in.
After showers and relaxing, we all went up to the lodge to get some dinner. They were having a buffet that night and it had all kinds of yummy grub on it. Awesome salad bar, roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, pot roast, baked cod, baked manicotti, roasted garlic potatoes, etc... Kristin even had them give me a piece of birthday cake and sing happy birthday to me. Thanks Hunny! The dining room has these huge windows looking out into the valley surrounded by mountains. Down in the grass by the pool we saw a deer walk right up to a young kid and lick his hand! The deer are obviously used to coming up to the lodge and getting a handout or two. That first night I saw 2 nice does and a really beautiful buck still in velvet, and all at about 5 feet away! It was so wonderful, I even had a raccoon come up and sniff my feet! It was a good thing for him I had just got a shower :) That evening we told Jim that we would probably sleep in and he said that he would be gone before 8:00, so we decided to say our goodbyes that night. We went to Jim’s lodge room to pray and he anointed us with oil and had some very encouraging, and uplifting words to say to us. Jim, I can’t tell you enough how blessed we are to have gotten to know you. Thank you so very much for everything you have done for us. You are our very special trail angel and we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers until we meet again, either here or in eternity. Remember Jim, “don’t quit!”
So we decided to stay in the lodge for another night because we hadn’t had time to type the blog and it started raining quite heavily. Jim had told us the trail we were taking was pretty treacherous when it was dry. So we stayed another night. When we woke up we decided to go up to the lodge to get some breakfast. On the way up there we saw Jim! He apparently overslept and had just finished his breakfast. He came over to us and said “come with me, I’m going to make sure you get a free breakfast!” We thought “Cool!” Well apparently Jim had got to talking with the waitress and she and the manager had decided to give Jim his breakfast for free and told him to send us up and they would do the same for us! What a great treat! Thank you to all the staff there in the dining room of the lodge! At breakfast we met Darren and Vicki. They were out for a tour on their motorcycle and had stayed in the lodge that night too. We got to talking with them until we realized that we were the only ones left in the dining room and they had closed the doors and were setting up for lunch. What a wonderful couple they are! We sat around and talked about the things of God and it felt like we had known them our whole lives! God bless you guys!! So we lounged around the rest of the day and then our package finally arrived from my sister in Oklahoma. It is the box our computer came in, chock full of trail mix, energy bars, hand sanitizer, and a funny birthday card from them. Thank you so much! Love you Jenn, Jerry and Mom!! We have finally decided to send the laptop home so I don’t know when our next blog will be, but God will make a way!
So for now, we love you all, we miss you all, and we can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces!