Brett & Tina
We are dreamers... and sometimes, doers.
After hiking the Appalachian Trail southbound in 2009, Tina (Chunky) had the dream of operating a hiker hostel along the Appalachian Trail. Brett, always up for an adventure and already dreaming of a farm, quickly bought into the idea and the property search began. It took us three years of earnest effort to find this place, and we often pinch each other to make sure it's really real.
We met in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and highly recommend the program to anyone 18-24 years old who wants to serve and get to know their country. We are enthusiastic beekeepers and are happy to share the magical work of the honeybee through Gather Ye Honey.
Brett teaches Civil Engineering and Tina does contract work with nonprofits and businesses that need help getting or staying on top of things. Tina and her friend Kate recently launched Mortal Frenemies and published their first party game - Lord of the Things.
We knew this place was magical when we bought it and being able to share it with family, friends, and strangers alike has added such joy to our lives. We look forward to having you stay with us and experiencing the magic for yourself.
Meet the Staff
Announcing newcomers, following Tina, and being cute.
Sleeping, bothering Hazelnut, and begging for belly rubs.
Staring, sitting in cardboard boxes, and creeping around.
Catching a wild swarm
The ones that missed the bucket
Pouring them into the hive
Busy as a bee
An inside look
Smiling faces in the honeycomb
Cutting off the wax caps
The honey extractor
Growing and Gathering
Our hostel is located in beautiful Rich Valley – so named for the rich soil found around here. The area used to be called Bear Garden and was a hunting ground for the Cherokee. The name of our closest town is Ceres, named after the Goddess of Agriculture. All that is to say this place is teeming with flora and fauna and we are trying our best to use our resources wisely. In addition to getting honey from our honeybees, we harvest sap from our maple trees to make syrup, pick tons of blackberries to make jam, and enjoy dried and fresh herbs from the garden. We have a handful of apple trees and in the fall we press cider, make apple juice and sauce, and spend hours stirring our beloved apple butter. We also have more black walnuts than we know what to do with. Seriously… have you ever tried getting the walnut out of the shell?
Apples (Don't judge a book by its cover!)
Boiling Maple Sap with Dad
We run on solar power.
In July of 2015, thru-hiker Yahtzee (one of our favorite guests ever) casually asks about our upcoming projects. I mention that we just bought a bunch of solar equipment, but didn’t really know where to start in getting it all set up. In true Trail Magic form, it turns out that Yahtzee is a pro. A real, live solar panel installation professional who just so happened to have installed 2,800 of the exact same panels we had stacked in the garage prior to getting on the AT. As things go in this magical AT community… a month later, Yahtzee, Dapper Dan (a random thru hiker Yahtzee had been hiking with), and Yahtzee’s colleagues from CDF Engineering convene at the Quarter Way Inn and installation begins. In three days, the entire system was up and ready for the switch to be flipped. Not only were these guys super smart, talented, and hard-working, they were a joy to be around. This same group of folks worked with The Nature Conservancy to bring renewable energy to the hard-to-reach Palmyra Atoll. Needless to say, they had lots of tales to tell around the campfire. We love our solar array and our battery back-up system. The power goes out here a lot, but we don’t even notice anymore! (And we are still really sorry about that one time a hiker was in the shower and the power went out and the water stopped coming. That won't happen again. We did all this for him.)