An open letter to the locals who take us hikers in.
Dear Darling Locals,
I want to start off by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart. Before setting out on my thru-hike, one thing I really looked forward to meeting the people who inhabited the land along the Appalachian Trail. As the trail takes us through 14 states, I knew that the people I would meet would play an important part in my hike. I longed for the connections I would make and the impact you’d forever leave on me. There are so many powerful moments this trail has provided me with, but something that continues to fill my soul is the generosity from you locals. I have been welcomed into homes of all types by people from all walks of life. I think when I reflect back on my hike, those nights in your homes will continue to rank high. A phrase “The trail provides” is something we hear numerous times during the duration of our hike. I can say that this has proven extremely true.
To the gentleman who kept us out of the rain after our night hike into Hot Springs, thank you for opening your extra bed to us and keeping us dry. Thank you to the kind soul in Boiling Springs who welcomed your party palace to multiple hikers for a couple days, I’ll always laugh thinking of those 48 hours. To the cat people in Kent, not only do you rescue feral felines……….but you also rescue stinky hikers, that takes a special kind of person. To the recent VMI graduates, I find it quite comical that you took a large group of us in because you assumed we had a lot of great stories. To Limited Master and Twister, the two days at your lake house is one for the books. I’d like to think fate played a big part in our encounter and I can say the coconut took a few days to fully recover after that, haha. To Sweet Richard, your well kept home was just what we needed to feel like civilized humans for a night, not to mention……….the home cooked breakfast was phenomenal. To Mr. Quinn, your pampering skills are up to par and I think our clothes may smell decent again after you insisted we multi-wash them. To Peter, thank you oh so much for making us feel like family in Asheville. Our time spent exploring your beautiful city and lake house was beyond a blast. To the fabulous Andrea, you and your hospitality were quite unforgettable………not to mention taking us to church was definitely a treat. To Mr. And Mrs. Hack, having us over for the 4th of July weekend was a much needed dose of R&R, your lovely home looks like it came straight out of book.
If you’re reading this and have taken hikers in, know you are a very special kind. The feeling we get from spending time in a house that has the “homey” feeling helps subside our homesickness. The meals you make out of the generosity in your hearts help power us over those what seem like never ending mountains. The comfortable beds/couches you allow us to lay our heads on make us feel a little less like animals for a night. The showers and washers you so kindly let us use probably actually help you stand being in our presence since ‘the hiker stench’ is something we seem to no longer notice. To the hours we spend conversing and sharing stories gives us new perspectives on ways of life in different parts of the country. You have helped us through some of our roughest days and provided inspiration when the times were lacking. It’s because of people like you that remind me that there is still kindness in the world and that there is still good people. But most of all, thank you for being you. Our journey wouldn’t be the same without you……these are really some of the best memories we’ll take away from our journey. You have all touched our hearts and will forever be remembered.
A very thankful hiker
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