BECKLEY, W.Va. —
Stover had plenty of time to think about those issues during his one-man march to Washington. He held up better this time than on previous trips, he said, because he he didn't experience searing heat or steady rain.
Cold nights, however, were a problem.
“I would be so cold, I’d get up and walk around, trying to convince myself that a fat man couldn’t freeze to death overnight at 27 degrees,” he said. “But it’s hard to convince yourself of that when you’re that cold.
Stover has more than once weathered the elements to call attention to various causes.
He first walked to Washington in support of coal in 1980, then repeated the journey 18 years later to protest a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions adopted in Kyoto, Japan.
In 2006, he walked 100 miles from McDowell County to Charleston to lobby for an expressway. Five years after that, he hiked to Charleston to raise awareness of redistricting in the state House of Delegates. Earlier this year he biked 90 miles to a meeting of county officials in Charleston to encourage people to exercise more.
Rahall, a Democrat who's served in Congress since 1977, met Stover after his first walk to Washington. Then they met on the steps of the Capitol.
This time Rahall invited Stover to his office.
"Bugs won’t ever give up on fighting for our coal miners, and neither will I," said Rahall, who backed a bill that passed the U.S. House in July 2011 to block the EPA's influence on coal mining permits. The bill, which was vigorously opposed by environmentalists, has since stymied in the Senate.
Stover suggested last week that he may be looking for other ways to show his support for the industry.
“This is my last journey," he said, "my last walk."
Details for this story were reported by the Register-Herald of Beckley, W.Va.