My shuttle driver from Four Pines Hostel, Nature Boy, dropped me at the McAfee Knob trailhead, on VA 311, and I headed up, literally, the trail. Since it was Saturday I had lots of company.
Three point nine miles doesn’t sound bad until you combine a fat, out of shape (did I mention old?) hiker, with a forty-pound backpack and point them uphill. Then it’s bad.
At the top I met a personable young hiker named Jacob and we talked and ate lunch on the same flat slab of granite. Afterwards we headed for the iconic Knob for pictures. Here’s mine:
Another young guy told me his phone was dead, and asked me to take his picture and text it to him. Of course I agreed, but then had to take his picture with my eyes closed because of where he posed:
Yeah. Makes mine look like I just rolled out into the bronc-busting event at the Calgary Stampede on a coin operated pony, doesn’t it? Anyway, we both survived.
Following a tougher than expected (even the young whippersnappers said so) rainy, 6.7 miles, I saw the Lambert’s Meadow Shelter just ahead. As I turned right on the short turnoff trail, facing the side of the shelter, a football-sized, smoking, black object came flying out of the front of the shelter and rolled a few feet.
Immediately on the heels of the “bomb,” a tall, ashen-faced, young hiker leapt from the shelter, grabbed the object, ran to a bearbox about ten feet away, hurled the object in and slammed the door. He seemed greatly relieved.
My mind refused to form even one rational thought about what I’d just witnessed, so I turned to the hiker and said, rather presciently I felt, “Um….”
“I borrowed my friend’s Jetboil campstove for this trip,” he said, wide-eyed, “and I thought it was about to blow up!”
“Wow!” I said, walking toward the shelter. “Glad you’re okay!” Ramen noodles littered the area in front of the sleeping platform.
Inside the shelter were Jacob, my McAfee Knob acquaintance, and another hiker, apparently the buddy of the one who’d valiently risked his life.
After some discussion, it was determined that the Ramen noodles had simply boiled over, but rather than turn down the heat, the hiker had heroically “thrown himself on the grenade” to save his friends from Ramen boilover.
Here’s the thing: as comical as it turned out to be, the hiker didn’t know this…he thought he was risking his life. Yes, there are still such people in the world.