Rambunny and fellow thru-hiker “Aqua” purchased a hostel in Akins, Virginia. The Happy Hiker Hollow Hostel quickly became know as a great place to stay. Having hiked the trail several times Rambunny knew what thru-hikers needed in a hostel. She provided a great experience for those passing by.
In a thru-hiker forum (http://www.whiteblaze.net/) there are a couple of interesting reviews of Rambunny’s hotel. Bessiebreeze posted,
“The ‘Happy Hiker Hollow’, in Atkins, Va., is fairly new, and a fantastic place to stay. The owners, Rambunny and Aqua, are very accomodating, they both have hiked the AT more than once, and their place is about 1 mile from exit 54, interstate 81, in Southern Va. They include breakfast and supper in their price, and have shared and private rooms. I stayed there just recently, and plan to go back. Their house is an old farm house, in a beautiful setting very near the trail.I give the “Happy Hiker Hollow” a five star rating for hiker stays near the AT.
Mango joined in the praise by sharing, “I can’t imagine a better hostess than Rambunny. She even cuts hair (for a reasonable price).”
Several online trail journals mention the hostel. Thru-hiker, “On the Loose” shared her 2010 AT adventure on trailjournal.com. Her post on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 is a good example of a stay in Rambunny’s hostel in Virginia.
“When you come through Atkins, VA, you MUST stay at the Happy Hiker Hollow! This place is amazing! We got to the Shell station at VA11 and I-81 early in the afternoon. I called Rambunny at the hostel, and Aqua was there to pick us up in less than 5 minutes. We settled into our room at the hostel, and it immediately felt like home. There are real beds, books and movies galore, tons of toiletries for our use, games, foot baths, internet, and a phone with free long distance. There was a closet of clean clothes for us to put on after our showers while Rambunny did our laundry. In the afternoon, Aqua took us to a grocery store in Marion. Around 6, Rambunny called us down to an absolutely incredible homecooked dinner…. There were dishes galore of chicken, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, baked beans, candied carrots, rolls, and corn pudding. There was delicious lemonade and incredible pineapple upsidedown cake. Two hours later, I am still stuffed! I understand that we have a similarly amazing breakfast ahead of us tomorrow. At $40 per person, the rate sounded steep before we took into consideration all that included. Here’s the take-home message: it is absolutely, 100% worth it! Postscript, April 28, 2011: There are a lot of great hostels out there, but I think Happy Hiker Hollow officially gets my vote for Best Hostel on the Trail.”
However, not all was well at the Happy Hiker Hollow Hostel. I have not been able to discover the details of its closing but by September of 2010 the hostel was temporarily shut down, Rambunny posted this announcement on a hiker discussion board:
Happy Hiker Hollow Hostel
“We are sorry to announce that we are closed for renovations until 2012-Please send your boxes to The Barn restaurant (see guide books for info). Also good place to park. As soon as we were able to move into this 1842 farm house we were helping hikers-and our list of things we need to do got longer & longer. And YES bad hiker behavior did play into this decision. We hope to re-open with new guidelines that will both please the hiker & us. Our shuttle driver is still going strong from as far as Johnson City to Pearisburg & beyond- home-276-7833604 cell- 276-2438149 His name is Skip-wife’s name Linda. Have a great hike!!!!!”
It is so sad to hear that hiker misbehavior was part of the reason for the closing. So many of the hikers that I met along the way were kind and considerate and took their adventure seriously. But it only takes a few to spoil the name of thru-hikers, to turn the taste to bitter among trail towns and to cause merchants to redirect their energies.
Runbunny posted a second announcement in October two years later (2012), “Sorry this took so long, Aqua is in stage 5 kidney failure, since April our world has been turned upside down. He is handling it way better than I sometimes but we are fighting the good fight-it’s not cancer, it could be worse. We trust God things will work out. We hope to be helping hikers in the future still. Happy Trails.”
The most recent update on Carole came seven months ago via this posting on gofundme.com regarding Rambunny posted by a friend, Frank Armstrong: “Last week she [Carole] fell from a ladder and shattered her tibia at the knee. It has been surgically repaired and she is home and doing well. Her companion ‘Aqua 2002’ has been on dialysis for the last 4 years. He goes in 3 times a week and is on a long waiting list for a kidney. This accident has put her out of work (1 full-time and 2 part-time jobs), for at least 12 weeks.”
A follow-up to this posting by Frank came a month later, “Bunny is doing well but getting antsy. She wouldn’t be her if she wasn’t 🙂 Aqua is amazing ! He is un-relenting in caring for her. This strong pair are inspiring.”
Carole has a Facebook page and I have requested to be her friend on this social media spot. I have received no response but I would love to make connection with this amazing lady of the trail. I will keep you posted if I am able to add a little more “present tense” to this story of Rambunny.
Hostel Photo: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=494178&back=1
“On the Loose”s Journal and photo: http://www.trailjournals.comp/entry.cfm?id=309548