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“THIS is all virgin trail,” said Shad Baker, a connoisseur of hiking in the steeply slanted backwoods of eastern Kentucky, as he dropped me off at the start of my adventure there on the new Pine Mountain Trail. “This is probably the most remote place you can get that exists out here. You are five miles even from the nearest house.”

We said goodbye. He drove off. And then I slipped into woods so thick they looked like an American jungle.

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