Brandon Imp, one of the hikers in “Beauty” and the director’s brother, is traveling through towns on the two-month Georgia to Maine tour. He said the reason he is dedicating his time to do this is to give back to the community members that were supportive during their hike.
“We want them to see how much hikers appreciate them,” Brandon said. “We call them trail angels.”
The trio enjoyed days off the trail in towns nestled along the mountains. One of their most memorable stops was the Chateau Morrisette Winery in Floyd County, which they posted a video of on their blog.
“Chateau Morrisette was one of our favorite experiences on the Appalachian Trail,” Brandon said. “I think it was the opening day of the season, people were dressed to the nines, and we were looking awful.”
Brandon said despite their smell and sandals, the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the hikers sampled wine and enjoyed the event for about four hours.
“We had a really good time,” Katherine Imp said. “After that, we sent a bottle of wine from Morsiette to people who helped us.”
Blacksburg is one of 30 places on “Beauty’s” Georgia to Maine tour. Brandon concludes each viewing with a time for questions and answers with the audience, which will occur at the Lyric as well.
“The audience is usually somber after it ends,” Brandon said. “I give them time to get their mind processing, then as soon as one person releases a question, it’s one after another.
“The reaction has been very positive. People say ‘I learned from your mistake,' and it’s a good recognition for them.”
The questions continue through email weeks after a screening from viewers who are still pondering how the film related to them.
The film's Georgia to Maine tour has been funded by the hikers themselves so far, but to attain future touring goals, they are fundraising with Kickstarter. If the film pledges $10,000 by July 17, they will receive funding to help with their national university tour in the fall. Since final editing, the Imps have been fueling the film’s tour.
“I believe this film deserves a decent distribution,” Katherine said. “You sometimes have to believe in your own project when no one else does.
“Finally, we're at a place where someone else believes in you, and people are enjoying it."
If “Beauty Beneath the Dirt” shakes you up enough to want to experience the A.T.’s wonders, there are some preparations recommended before heading out. Though you may not be carrying an eight-pound camera, five camera batteries, a battery charger, a tri-pod and ten memory cards like the trio did, there are other necessitates.
“I suggest starting with day hikes to get an idea of what you’re getting into,” said David Goodman, Venture Out Coordinator. “You also want to test your equipment before jumping on a 2,000 mile hike.”
If a five-month hike is not for you, however, Goodman said Venture Out is a resource for day-hiking trips and gear needed for the adventures.
Goodman said McAfee’s Knob is one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, which is one of the many hikes in the local area that happens to also be a part of the trail itself.
According to the Appalachian Trail conservancy, thousands of volunteers dedicate around 220,000 hours to the trail each year. Some of these volunteers include members and leaders of the Virginia Tech Outdoor Club.
The conservancy also states that two to three million visitors walk a portion of the trail each here, since there are many popular day-hikes that are a part of it.
It also said that only one in four who attempt the thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail are successful.