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Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers
November 2001

PHOTO: Clint Kawanishi used a little creative photo editing to recreate the scene of the conflagration at the trail neighbors picnic.

September Work Trip a Blazingly Good Time

by Karl Kunkel

Mid-September was a time of crisp, clear weather without a cloud in the sky: perfect weather for a work trip and the Trail Neighbors’ Cookout. Only four days after the Sept. 11 tragedy, most PATH members were eager to escape the TV and get in some constructive trail work, relaxation and socializing.

About 40 people showed up for the annual white blaze-painting ritual or do some stone work. The newly revamped equipment shed at the Wytheville Forest Service facility ran smoothly with Gordon Burgess and Bill Boudman at the helm. David Stelts proudly displayed a sonogram of his next child. David described his prenatal child as the size of a soybean. Bill B. at first thought the sonogram was a map of a weather system.

Paul Clayton was this year’s Wolfgang Puck, as he manned the grill at the O’Lystery shelter for this year’s Trail Neighbors’ dinner. Chicken and pork chops and some great casserole from Walt Davis and his wife filled everyone up, including our guests of honor -- several neighbors who live near the AT and have helped us out many times over the years.

The evening’s excitement was provided by an overpressurized Coleman stove, which sent flames high enough to burn away any cobwebs in the rafters. This “reporter,” armed with a camera, stood in awe of the flames, neglecting to capture the event on film. Fortunately, Clint Kawanishi, equipped with a fertile imagination and Photoshop, a computer program, was able to provide us with a “creative interpretation” of the scene.

PATH member Danny Shields, a Wilmington area resident, was unable to attend because of his wife’s medical condition. Our thoughts are with the Shields as she continues her chemo sessions. Gordon Burgess’s “Carolina blue” 1973 VW Bug has a new owner, this “reporter,” who promises to keep the Bug visiting Stoney Fork regularly. The Bug wouldn’t have it any other way, having made the trek for well over two decades.

Many members commented that the weekend was one of the best ever.

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