Bill Lynch Published

Clogging in Lincoln County: Meeting Tosha

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Lincoln County was the birthplace of aviation legend Chuck Yeager and where Bill Lynch got his first lesson in clogging.

Tosha Smith met me in the parking lot of the McDonalds in Hamlin, which was, as far as I was able to determine, the only McDonalds in Lincoln County.

I was glad it was the only one.

Meeting at the hamburger restaurant had been Tosha’s idea. Lincoln County has spotty cell phone service, which might make it hard for a stranger to navigate and we both wanted me to get to my first clogging lesson on time.

I was relieved she wanted to meet at an easily recognizable business along a relatively uncomplicated route. I wouldn’t even need to use my phone to find my way.

Without GPS, I can get lost in a gas station parking lot. With GPS, the chances of me finding my way improved slightly.

The last time I went to Lincoln County was more than a year ago. I’d gone, mostly, just to say I’d been. At the time, I was trying to visit all 55 of West Virginia’s counties.

The point of the whole trip was to explore a little, find something to do and maybe have lunch.

Exploration led me to the Big Ugly Wildlife Management Area, as remote a place as I thought I’d ever been. I’d wandered around for a couple of hours just after a hard rain. I’d tried to jump over, but then waded through mud puddles a foot deep, fearing for leeches.

I’d been a snack for black flies, mosquitoes and my own overactive imagination.

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The Big Ugly Wildlife Management Area is full of terrifying creatures, like this one.

Any second, I was pretty sure, a cloud of ticks would envelope me or I’d kick over a nest of snakes.

There are days when enjoying the great outdoors is a struggle for me.

Leaving Big Ugly had been an odyssey.

Cell service, which took me to the wildlife management area, was gone and the satellite GPS I kept in my car hadn’t been updated in years. It tried to get me back to the highway by taking a dried creek bed through a farmer’s yard.

But I found my way back to the highway and then to Hamlin, where I ate like a savage at Carnivore BBQ.

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Bill doesn’t know much about clogging, but he knows a lot about nachos. Carnivore BBQ in Hamlin has good nachos.

I hadn’t been back since, though – even though I’ve talked about going back to the barbecue place routinely since I left.

I’d stumbled across the Lincoln County Cloggers randomly.

When I’d begun putting together my list of Appalachian topics for “Lore,” clogging had come up late, while I was thinking about Appalachian performing arts I could maybe learn. I didn’t think I could get very far trying to play a fiddle, but I could maybe pick up some dance steps.

I searched online and found the Lincoln County Cloggers, who at the start of 2023, were offering a class for would-be cloggers.

A class sounded perfect. I could maybe even hide a little bit in the crowd, if things didn’t go very well.

So, I reached out to the group and Tosha said they’d love to have me along. The only problem was they’d just postponed the classes, while the Lincoln County Cloggers prepared to go to the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC.

(Continued Friday)