In the few days since my last post, I have been overwhelmed with the sharing nature of hikers and non-hikers alike. So, to be clear, the rumor about Virginia's lack of trail magic has been successfully debunked. It's hard to explain why or how it happens, but there is an instant camaraderie among people interested in the AT experience. I want to do another post soon about my connection with other thru-hikers, so this one is going to focus on one Trail Angel who has gone above and beyond.
My original plan today was to hike 6 miles, hitch into Buena Vista, resupply, eat a big fast food lunch, and hike 5 more miles up the trail. I was intent on this because I wasn't able to find a buddy to split a hotel room with in Daleville and so had to splurge on a room alone--all of these town stops are breaking my budget!
Surprisingly, I caught a hitch relatively easily as the rain was coming down and a couple took pity on me. Their brother is hiking the trail but a little ways ahead of me, and so we shared nice conversation before they dropped me off at the Food Lion. I did some shopping (picking up probably too much food, the issue with shopping before I have lunch) and the rain was still coming down. Now, rain I'm fine with, but the forecast called for some severe lightning, so I began debating getting a motel room (again, splurging since I was resupplying alone).
Just as I had decided it was worth staying, Adam approached me asking if I was a hiker. We chatted briefly before he offered me a ride to Hardee's since his family member owns a hiker hostel (remember that first one I stayed in with my Dad in the snow?). On the way, he said he was headed to lunch at a local place with a great special and I was welcome to join. After a huge meal, he insisted on paying and asked where he could take me next. When I wanted to be dropped at a motel, he offered up a room in his house for free.
I know some of you are probably thinking "stranger danger," and "oh my, he's hitchhiking?" But out here these things are the norm. I promise that I pay attention to the details and do my best to feel out someone before trusting them so fully.
But Adam is no ordinary Trail Angel because he simply wanted to spend all day with me. He's an electrician who travels for work for months at a time and usually works 7 days a week but was given a day off due to the threat of lightning. Who knew that Mother Nature could be so fortuitous to alter both of our plans to bring us together! He also took me out for beers and a great dinner too! I have never experienced someone so willing to give to a stranger, and all he asked for in return was good company.
We talked about all sorts of topics that are normally taboo--religion, gun control, politics, etc. and while we may not have always seen eye to eye, there was a clear sense of respect. We both were keen to not only share time with each other, but relish how we could learn from the other. I am restored not because of the hot shower and large meals (though those definitely help) but because Adam was so willing to give of himself to a complete stranger. I often think about my life off trail and his generosity is something that I hope to emulate.