TROUTVILLE – It may look like a trailer once used to haul candy, but for hundreds of smelly hikers it’s going to be paradise.
Since April, Troutville resident Raymond Whitlock and a small crew of volunteers have been busy converting a 28-foot-long by 8-foot-wide and 9-foot-high reefer trailer into a rare luxury for those hiking the Appalachian Trail – portable showers.
One hiker blogged about showering on the Trail this way: “How Does One Shower on the Appalachian Trail? The same way that hippies do. You don’t. But you’re spending all day walking up and down mountains, while carrying 30 lbs. on your back, through the heart of the summer! Surely, you’ll excrete several oceans of sweat every day. Yup. That’s part of the trail, is being a grummy bastard…”
Get the picture how appreciated those showers will be now?
Last week, Whitlock, Skeet Ulrich and Spurgeon Vaughan were putting the finishing electrical touches on the trailer/portable showers. Whitlock and Ulrich said the showers should be ready in a few weeks.
“We can be done in a week, but we need to get it down to the park,” said Ulrich, adding the showers hopefully will sit on a strip of Troutville Town Park land beside Old Dominion Veterinary Clinic on Boone Drive. Troutville will provide cold and hot water, sewer and electricity to the shower trailer.
Inside there are two shower rooms and a common area. Each shower room includes a small sink and toilet. Both showers look as if they’re made from stainless corrugated steel and has a powerful shower head.
Whitlock explained the process of converting a trailer into a portable shower took some time and effort. The trailer, being a reefer unit, had an air conditioning system, had to be stripped, then he installed rubber flooring, tiling work, installed drains and proper plumbing, cut material to build the showers. “And much more,” Ulrich said.
He continued that most of the renovation work was done by Whitlock, who not only worked on the remodeling the trailer, but also made “a lot of the stuff” in his garage.
“We just want to put something up permanently,” he said, adding that during the town’s annual Trail Days a local church often provides a shower facility, but the rest of the year hikers do not have shower facilities. Ulrich and Whitlock estimated upwards of 500 hikers descended on the town, doubling Troutville’s population.
The men said the facilities will also be used during the annual 76 Bike Route which brings hundreds of bikers into the town.
The town paid $500 for the trailer, a steal, said Ulrich. “That’s basically giving it to us,” he said.
While last week the three men were tightening this and testing out that, they said one thing they would really like to see is a mural painted on the side of the trailer and in the common area. “If there is an artist out there that would like to paint this, let us know,” said Ulrich.