Zero? Who Needs a Zero?I had heard of “Zero” days but I don’t think I truly understood the full meaning. I have quickly put my own definition to the word, which is “Heaven on earth”. After I hiked 50 or so miles it’s almost impossible to think about anything else except the next, “Zero”. Usually, this means every muscle gets to rest for 24 hours. No movement is a beautiful thing! But before this stillness, a few things have to take place.
First, I have to get a ride into a town. I was always told as a youngster not to pick up hitch hikers because they are scary people. Well guess what, now I am one of those scary people. It’s interesting, some people give a slight wave, which in my mind means, “I see you but I don’t dare to stop.” I then have noticed the person that totally ignores me and looks straight ahead. I totally get it, I don’t know if I would pick me up. Then, I have what I call my “God” moments. People stop. With a happy heart an offer to give me a ride erupts. My first words are, “God bless you and I’m sorry if I stink!”
At the end of a long week of hiking these rides are worth so much, physically, mentally and spiritually. Each ride so far has been just another form of “Trail angel.”
Fully Dependent on a Kind Soul
Relying on these people to open up their vehicle doors is such a weird feeling. My parents always raised me not to take a ride from strangers or food. Sorry mom and dad, I will eat any food that anyone offers me and I will gladly except a ride. Personally, it is a bit of an odd feeling. I’ve always looked at people who are hitch hikers as so called, “Scary people”. Therefore, I would never consider letting them get in my vehicle. Now, I am one of those “Scary” people practically jumping on the hood of a car for a ride. What has this AT done to me, I guess miles more will tell.
As I’m standing on the side of the road with my thumb up I first pray. I even text a friend and ask for pray that a nice ride will come along. Many thoughts are racing, “ I need food, and I have no energy to take another step but who would pick me up?” As I stand there I think, “ Would I pick me up?”
This one ride was from a guy who is building a small house and has plans to do the AT next year. It was fun to talk to him. He said he moved to the country so he and his wife can raise their young son in the mountains. I call him my Florida Dude ride and I hope his house comes together well for his family.
Sharing a precious story
This ride was amazing in so many ways. First, I needed food but the closest store was in Gatlinburg which was 16 miles away. While standing at the curb with my thumb up vehicles passed by. One truck stuck out, I saw a woman drinking a coffee. I thought, “Wow, she is drinking coffee.” I quickly realized I didn’t fit into their morning drive. Minutes later, the same truck came back my way and beautiful words flew out the window. I hopped in and generic chatter followed, but then something remarkable happened. The mom, (I don’t know her name) shared that two weeks prior they had lost their two year old daughter due to a basic, simple tonsil removal surgery.
It was obvious their hearts were tender. It was an honor to have her share how her little girl always wanted things in two. She didn’t want just one cookie, it was always two, two, two with all things.
After her death her parents made the decision to donate her organs. I was informed that this little girl has now saved “Two” other lives because of her generosity. Please pray for this couple because their dream now is to one day meet these two children who are thriving with life because of their little angel. I will just say, God is good in all situations!
There are good people
As I sit and take my zero today, I will reflect on the kindness that people have shown me. I didn’t and don’t deserve it but they gave it to me anyway. I will be resting yet not forgetting how these acts of love helped me at a crucial time. “Kindness” is an amazing trait to pass along, and I hope I can do it as well as these people.
The laundry will dry, my belly will be stuffed beyond, and my zero will be much appreciated as I prep for the trail tomorrow!
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I am reading through so many blogs here. There is almost always something about a story that ends up being relevant in some way. Im thinking about doing a through hike, the only way I know what to expect is through reading through stories likes these, watching the occasional youtube video and as I get closer, Ill start reading a few books here and there. It strikes me from your story that rides into town may be necessary. I wonder if thats true for everyone or just preferable for most. When I hit the trail I am not looking to interact with people. I wonder if I will see a need for it, a way that it cant be avoided. I will literally hike an extra half mile to avoid a populated shelter or area on the trail if it comes to it. If it interesting how many stories involve meeting people and then hiking with them or getting trail names or the like. I am the type of person who will help if its needed but after that I am not interested in being around longer. If I am its only because I feel it cant be avoided which if I have anything to say about it, it can.
But this is just me and as I read through accounts like yours I wonder if its possible to hike this as I intend when I get ready to.
I believe that couple needed you as much as you needed their generous ride. Bless you for giving them a compassionate audience to share their story.
And thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.
Remember, you can never take too many zeros. Genesis 1 tells us that even God took a zero. The weekly zeros I took gave my body much needed recovery time and prevented me from having any overuse injuries.
I’m enjoying reading about the blessings you are experiencing and am glad that you know that it is not the trail that provides. You’ve got this.