I love everything about the Trail. The Trail is in the process of changing my life. I really didn’t think anything quite like this would ever happen to me. I’m about to be 66. 66. How often does a person at my age have their life enriched like this at this lateish stage.
I’m already living a 2nd chance life. I’ve already lost just about everything and yet here I am. The Universe has given me back way more than I deserve. Way more.
My children are back in my life. I am married to an angel. I have some quality friends who I can count on and they can count on me.
I live in a cloud of gratitude. It constantly surrounds me.
Enter my friend Karma and the Trail begins working it’s magic on me. I listen to stories from Karma’s travels. I buy a pack. I’m in. Then about a year later, I’m all in.
When I’m following the white blazes, I’m free. Spirit free. That part of me I’ve had in me since I was a kid lights up. Glows. I’m on an adventure. I’m not watching the Indiana Jones movie and tearing up because I want that kind of life, I’m in the movie. I have that kind of life.
There is a bond of some kind with Trail people. I’m beginning to enter that world. I’ve met incredible people. Young families on day hikes. Young and old couples just out walking. Solo thru-hikers. A man with Parkinson’s Disease finishing his 10 year Section Hike of the entire Trail in the next two days. All of these people are now a part of my story. There is an endless supply of these people and stories and now there’s Sleeping Beauty.
We passed on the Trail less than a week ago. We spoke for maybe 10 minutes. She needed some water and my friend John, just with me for the day, gave her some. I was stingy. I was overnighting and wasn’t sure how much I needed. I was thinking of myself. I had an extra Snickers Bar in my pocket and I didn’t think to offer it to her. She was a South African American like my wife! I’m an American South African. She was a thru hiker from Maine! I got down the Trail a bit and realized my selfishness and beat myself up for miles. I missed my chance to give back just a little of what this new Trail life had given me. I was bummed but I had information. Information and the Internet.
I finished my hike into the Delaware Water Gap with another friend from HS who joined me that next morning. I went home and Googled and found her. Amazing really. All the while thinking she’s going to think I’m a stalker, but really all I want is to make an amend for my selfishness. I had not held up my end of the deal that I had made with the Trail. I somehow found her on Facebook and WordPress. I sent a friend request and liked her WordPress post. She friended me!
Then I hiked the next day in the snow through Knife’s Edge to Bake Oven Knob not knowing she’s in the Shelter a short distance up the Trail! Our stories connect on FB. I post a picture of me on Bake Oven Knob and she sends me a picture of her in the same place a few hours earlier! I think that next I apologized for my thoughtlessness when we passed, and she said she was thinking also that we should have shared our details, since we had the SA connection.
Two days later my wife and I are texting her and leaving a phone message, trying to make a plan for me to help her get to Duncannon and she sends me a picture of her battered feet! A picture of the bottoms of her feet! Only Trail people would understand how it happens that you offer a ride to someone that you’ve spoken to for 10 minutes, and they send you photos of their feet! We were Trail Friends!
So there I was yesterday in Port Clinton at the Trail head in my jeep and she texted that she was a minute away! As she came out of the woods, I got so excited! It was Sleeping Beauty!
I helped her put her things in the car and off we went to the Post Office to pick up her mail.
Then to Cabela’s for food! We pretty much talked non stop (me mostly I talk too much when I’m excited) through dinner and on the hour ride to The Doyle in Duncannon, where she was meeting friends who invited her for Thanksgiving Dinner. Thanksgiving Dinner in Georgia! They had 11 hours driving ahead of them. Two hiker friends and a mom. Introductions were made at the Doyle bar. I though one of the guys said his name was “Yak.” Cool Trail name I thought. No he said,”Jack!” Ha.
We said our good-byes and I helped her get her pack and mail from my car. She thanked me. As usual, I got way more than I gave. I wished her good luck. A hug and I was gone. I called Yolande to let her know I was on my way home.
I wasn’t sad to say good-bye. That is rare for me. I usually want to hold on to the good stuff. Hold on and then feel sad. I was happy. I had met and spent some time with a really nice, a lovely soul really. I had a few hours of what makes life worth living. Helping a new friend on her journey. It is my journey too, you see.
I learned all kinds of stuff beyond just what the bottoms of her feet look like, about my friend Sleeping Beauty. (She likes to nap along the Trail) I’m not going to share that stuff here. What fun would that be if you met her out there. I’ll give you this: she travelled Europe playing professional tennis and was in her HS play.
If you are out hiking between Port Clinton, PA and Springer Mountain GA, and you get really lucky like me, you may meet her. If she talks funny ask her if she’s from South Africa. Tell her “All In” (that’s me) said “Hi!” If you have one, offer her a Snickers. 😀
You’ll get more than you give.