Okay, this one tops it all. My lesson for the day – maybe for the entire trip – is that there is a lot of goodness in this world and it is all around us and touches us when we’re least expecting it. Here’s a little background on what happened to me today…
In late spring 2009 the Princess and I were driving on Route 60 east of Buena Vista, headed to a banquet at Sweet Briar College, when we passed the point where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. It’s about nine miles east of BV, near Long Mountain Wayside if you know the area. As we passed the trailhead I noticed a hiker pop out of the woods. Thinking they might need a ride somewhere I turned into the wayside and went back to talk to the hiker. By the time we got there two more hikers had joined the first and they crossed the road to where I had stopped the car.
They turned out to be three women who were hiking the AT from Georgia to Maine and they were definitely interested in a ride to a restaurant. So we got them and their packs loaded in the car and headed toward Amherst where we could drop them off at a restaurant on our way to Sweet Briar. On the way we agreed that we would drop them at the restaurant, keep their packs in the car so they didn’t have to carry them, go to the banquet, and then come back to pick them up. (Imagine trusting someone you just met with your pack and everything in it – all your worldly belongings.)
The banquet was great – honoring Grigg and Cindy Mullen of Lexington for their work with Project Horizon, an organization with which the Princess is involved. After the banquet we headed back to the restaurant in Amherst to pick up the hikers. On the way the Princess and I agreed that we would offer to let them stay at our house that night if they wanted to. When we picked them up we made the proposal and they gladly accepted. (Any thru-hiker is very happy to have a bed, a shower and a good meal that is not trail food.)
As it turned out they ended up staying with us for two days and they enjoyed simply relaxing and getting themselves and their gear cleaned up. The Princess made some great meals and treats for them and we all ate very well. I got to quiz them about the AT and being with them really solidified my desire to hike the trail myself someday. After two days they departed and headed north to Maine. The Princess and I have kept in touch with two of them, Mossybrown and Gaia, through Facebook. Okay, so that’s the set up…here’s the interesting part.
This morning I crossed a road and was stepping back into the woods when a car pulled up and someone yelled, “Is that you?”. I stopped and walked back toward the car and saw Mossybrown getting out of the car. I had not seen her in three years but recognized her immediately. I was partially in shock but so glad to see her. It was an emotional reunion for both of us. I still can’t believe she pulled up just in time. If it had been thirty seconds later I would have been into the woods and she wouldn’t have seen me.
We talked for about twenty minutes and she gave me some drinks and treats and offered to help in any way she could. She lives in Carlisle which is very close to where we are on the AT. Unfortunately Whiskers and Rocket had gotten ahead of me when I stopped to purify water so they missed out on this trail magic. Mossybrown and I made plans for all of us to meet tomorrow night at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon. It will be great for her to meet Whiskers and Rocket and we can all ‘talk AT stuff’. Mossybrown successfully completed her thru-hike so you can bet we’ll be asking her a lot of questions about what lies ahead for us on our hike.
I am still in shock a bit from this huge surprise so please excuse me if this post is not as coherent as it could be. I hope you get the point.
The hike today was great and we finished in Boiling Springs at about 3:00 p.m. Boiling Springs is a quaint little town that has a beautiful old resort called The Aldenberry which gives thru-hikers a greatly reduced rate if space is available. So we’re staying in high style tonight!
Tomorrow we plan to start hiking at 6:00 a.m. to try to beat the heat, or at least some of it. We have a 26-mile hike to Duncannon and the temperature will be in the 90’s by noon. We’re eager to get to Duncannon, though, so our motivation will be high. It’s supposed to be a nice trail town and they’re having their AT festival tomorrow, so we should enjoy that. Then we get to see Mossybrown tomorrow night.
All for now…amazing day…an incredible and wonderful surprise!
Here’s a photo of Mossybrown that I took today after I had recovered from my initial shock.