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  1. #1
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Default Rusty says hi...

    Many long-time members of White Blaze may know, or know of, "Rusty." He operated a very rustic mountain hiker hostel called Hard Time Hollow near Love, VA just off the BRP for over two decades. No frills (or electric, phone, or indoor water!) back in the day when HTH was a can't-miss stop for many thru-hikers.
    Rusty Nesbitt 031018.jpg
    He's been out of the hiker scene for awhile and no longer operates a hostel but after not seeing him for nine years I stopped in to say hi today. Didn't even know if he was still there, or alive for that matter. He asked me to post this photo of him, 78 years young, and invites old friends to drop by if in the area. He still lives there with his dog Soxx, and in more recent times has spring-fed water piped in, gas-powered lighting, and a very warm woodstove. One of a kind mountain man!
    Last edited by Skyline; 03-17-2018 at 00:41.

  2. #2

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    Total blast from the past. Never visited but always wanted to.

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Same here, I heard about HTH for years and never made it up there on a hike before it closed. Glad to see he's doing well.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  4. #4

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    Thanks for posting. I have wondered about Rusty and thought he was fighting some illness back in the day.

    New hikers wouldn't know about Hard Times Hollow. Last year I met many thruhikers who didn't know the name Baltimore Jack.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
    Manchester Center, VT

    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  5. #5

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    Pretty cool, I have not heard of HTH. What years did he run the hostel?

  6. #6
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Pretty cool, I have not heard of HTH. What years did he run the hostel?
    Late 1980s until 2009, with some seasons in hiatus for various reasons.

  7. #7
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Thanks for posting. I have wondered about Rusty and thought he was fighting some illness back in the day.

    New hikers wouldn't know about Hard Times Hollow. Last year I met many thruhikers who didn't know the name Baltimore Jack.
    So true. We don't seem to have a lot of knowledge about who came before us. The AT Museum near Pine Grove Furnace is meant to remedy that in person, but the online museum is a start for those who would rather live online...

    https://www.atmuseum.org/online-museum.html

  8. #8

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    Good to hear he's still kickin it at the Holler.
    Many good memories.
    Beer was allowed back in 95, but not in 2001
    Many hikers ended their thru-hike there though. Too much fun.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  9. #9

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    ...too much fun indeed.

    blast from the past.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for this update. Will stop by to see him when I'm in that area. He is worthy of an ATC Magazine story or an AT MyStory video.
    Warren Doyle PhD
    34,000-miler (and counting)
    warrendance@gmail.com
    www.warrendoyle.com

  11. #11
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warren doyle View Post
    Thanks for this update. Will stop by to see him when I'm in that area. He is worthy of an ATC Magazine story or an AT MyStory video.
    I'm sure he'd like to see you, Warren. Of course being off the grid it's hit or miss. But he's seldom gone for more than a day.

  12. #12

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    Stopped by Rusty’s after trail days 2018. It was great to see him. He’s in great health, riding his bike everyday, chopping wood and welding. It was a tough winter as he was all alone snowed in and not even a Park ranger could visit for four months but it’s spring now the blue ridge is open and all friends that visited are welcome.
    He d love to see you.
    PS I hope he can sell the Hollow soon so he can scale down his life a little and get some fishing in.

  13. #13
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gawjr1 View Post
    Stopped by Rusty’s after trail days 2018. It was great to see him. He’s in great health, riding his bike everyday, chopping wood and welding. It was a tough winter as he was all alone snowed in and not even a Park ranger could visit for four months but it’s spring now the blue ridge is open and all friends that visited are welcome.
    He d love to see you.
    PS I hope he can sell the Hollow soon so he can scale down his life a little and get some fishing in.
    He's had some physical and medical issues the past few years, but I bet he'd concede loneliness is way ahead of all that. Glad we and a few others are stopping by now that winter is over. The place looks very much like it always did, minus all the hikers.

    I'm in the process of moving back to Luray (near Thornton Gap on the AT in SNP) full time, and once the moving is over I hope to get down there again in August or September. It's only about a two-hour drive from Luray, but about six-plus from where I've been the past eight years.

  14. #14
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    UPDATE:

    I visited Rusty a couple weeks before Thanksgiving with my friend "Soulslosher," AT class of 2011. Nice visit, same Hollow, same Rusty. But it was just before the big ice storm which devastated southern SNP and the BRP from there down to about Peaks of Otter. I called him after that to learn he was slowly clearing the driveway (0.4 mi.) of down trees/branches up to the BRP, but the Parkway itself was closed and would be for a long time.

    Aside from that call, we have spoken a couple times since. The big issues when I called were he was trying to keep at least one vehicle running, and getting enough firewood for what is proving to be a rough winter. I, and a couple friends from back in the day, have since donated to the firewood fund, but it didn't seem to be enough. He has to drive to Amherst County to a sawmill to get scraps, and bring back to the Hollow. The wood is free, but it costs about $20 per roundtrip in gas.

    I'm going to reach out to Rusty soon once again. I know he recently had another health setback, and is not currently at the Hollow. BRP rangers, even when furloughed during the government shutdown, were looking in on the dog and keeping an eye on the place.

  15. #15
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    Picture or Video 5477.jpgFist time at the Hollow was on my thru in 88. Went back several times but haven't been there in years. Hopefully, I will get there sometimes this year.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Thanks for posting. (Snip) New hikers wouldn't know about Hard Times Hollow.
    This is true. I am a new hiker and didn’t know when I read this thread. I have to post, tho, the coincidence that today, as I’m reading ahead of my thru this year, I read this from “Walking the Appalachian Trail”, by Larry Luxenberg, 1994. I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting. This stuff is important. OP, thanks for posting!

    “Rusty, whose Hard Times Hollow is for many hikers the favorite refuge along the whole trail, said he grew tired of seeing so many hikers drop out at Waynesboro, Virginia. He decided that if they had a place for rest and recreation, many would continue. But he’s made his hollow, tucked in along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so pleasant for hikers that many find it hard to leave, and some stay for weeks. A welder, Rusty moved to the hollow in 1980 and began fixing up an abandoned shack that was surrounded on three sides by national park land. The place had been farmed fifty years earlier but had been unoccupied for the past twenty. Rusty’s generous spirit has made the place a must-visit for thru-hikers, who started coming in late 1982. He’s had almost forty thru-hikers at a time, and he is continually adding new bunkhouses and storage sheds as time and money permit. It may be the only place along the trail with both indoor and outdoor dartboards, as well as a ping-pong table. With the help of hikers who stay for a while, Rusty keeps chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other animals, and grows vegetables. He hunts and fishes, too. People pitch in with the cooking, and everyone eats together. A few years ago, he put in a wood-fired sauna fed by a pipe from a spring. He heats his house with wood and goes through eleven cords a year. For light, he relies on kerosene. Be advised that rest here is not synonymous with sleep. Rusty wants hikers to have a place “to cut back and stay loose,” and people party long into the night. Even in the winter, people stop by all the time. During the last few years, there haven’t been forty-eight hours go by without someone staying at the hollow.”

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
    So true. We don't seem to have a lot of knowledge about who came before us.
    Maybe the ATC could ask writers to release or share copyright on parts of their works (or maybe is fair use, which I would hope, if quoted sympathetically) and collate the material already written, for legacy purposes? Or Wikipedia?

  18. #18

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    I remember staying at the Mayor's house in Unionville NY, everyone staying was required to watch a video from America's Got Talent? Kinda weird but it was a nice comfortable stop and good home cooked food.

    Is the Doyle Hotel still in business?
    Last edited by elray; 02-12-2019 at 10:32.
    "every day's a holiday, every meal a feast"

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