It’s time to take a break for some gratitude. A crucial component up until (and past) this point were the people that we met, the sporadic, joyful happenings, and just the wonderment that we even were on this adventure.
In my travels overseas, I have always loved that people are so friendly and willing to go out of their way to help you. “Gee, it would be nice if people in my own country would do that,” I thought. However, I realized that I hadn’t experienced the hospitality and caring that people in my own country could offer because I hadn’t needed them to. On this trip, when we needed help, people came out the woodwork to help us, every time. Sometimes the timing was uncannily convenient, sometimes we had to wait a while, but always, every single time, someone came to our aid. Our experiences with these people, whether it was because they were giving us a ride, opening their homes, or experiencing the trail along with us, reminded me that there are wonderful people around us most of the time – sometimes we just must look for them.
First, and foremost, the trail angels must be thanked. These are people along the trail who go out of their ways to host hikers, give rides, and just generally help in the most extraordinary ways. Some are in the trail guide, some are locals who step up on the fly; one really cannot describe in words how wonderful some humans are.
Some of these extraordinary people will show up in future blogs in more detail, but they’ll get a mention full of gratitude here too:
Charlene, who happened to be driving by when we were hot, tired, and trying to get into Bonners Ferry. She picked us up the next day to bring us back out to the trail too!
Arlie, the innkeeper of the Historic Washington Hotel in Metaline Falls. Not only was his lodging superb, but he did all our laundry while we sat around in towels, and helped us get back to the trail.
Josh and Jami, in Northport, who opened their home, beautiful garden, fun pups, and yard to all of us (and at one point, as a result of fires, almost the whole posse mentioned later were camped out in their yard – quite the crew)!
Artie and Mike and fam in Republic: another home, shower, and yard with very comfortable grass. Look to future posts for more!
Casey (and the church next door) in Havilah. He is a caterer and a brewer of very delicious cider. If you live in WA, please look him up and buy his wonderful goods. His friend Birdie was a hoot too. More on these two later.
People met on trail: the PNT attracts all sorts, each with their own reasons for being there, and each with their own lesson to teach you. A quick (and non-exhaustive list).
West-bounders in our “cohort”:
Monkey meal: a fellow from Seattle who was supplementing his diet with primate kibble. I guess it is total nutrition.
Our friends, Jared and Katherine, some of the most hilarious and coolest folks you’ll meet, as you can tell by their roles in my other posts.
Tommy, not a thru-hiker, but a Bad Ass Mountain Woman from Montana who we camped with in Glacier. Words can’t really describe how cool she is.
Nick, a rad man from Chicago, who woke up one day and decided he’d quit everything and hike the PNT despite lack of experience (we lost him after Glacier and it took weeks until we found him again). His quotes, “Mama told me there’d be days like today!” and “Gosh Jared, you know, you’re really good at walking.”
Ardem, a youth we only knew for about 24 hours, who was subsisting completely on a large cheese and hunk of salami. He walked like the wind. Very quiet, fast wind.
Papa Bear, a bus driver on summer break and experienced thru-hiker.
Zeke and Torsten – An unexpected duo. The first from New Zealand, and the second from Germany, these two eccentric fellows had met and hiked previous long trails. Their telling quote, “We aren’t ultralight, we’re just really fast.”
Jack, a very kind man, who was very vague about his employment connections to Hollywood. By putting together the pieces, we decided he was pretty important and just very modest. He also walked like the wind.
Rich, a man whose goal was to walk every step between the start and the ocean. Not necessarily on trail; when it was on fire (spoiler alert), he walked 70 miles on the highway to get to the next town before continuing on. He also started the Selkirks bushwhack in the evening and was subsisting almost entirely on Clif bars.
Goat, an experienced thru-hiker, with a wild glint in his eye and a moderate head injury from a fall that he going to “walk off.”
Kevin, a guy who first Jared decided was his mortal enemy, but he actually was pretty cool and later they became friends. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that!
East-bounders who were on their own adventures, of which the PNT merely played a small role:
Joel: A man hiking the “Wild West Trail” combining the United States’ largest wilderness areas into his own long trail/bushwhack adventure. More at @wildwesttrail
Jeff aka Legend: He was hiking the Great Western Loop. He hiked through the desert to get to the PCT, up the PCT, we saw him on the PNT (at the end of July), and then he was going to hike down the CDT, the Grand Enchantment, and the Arizona trail until he got back to his start. He got there too, around Thanksgiving. Follow his adventures @thefreeoutside
Again, this is not an exhaustive list! I’m missing some, and they’ll will pop up in future posts.
I also haven’t included all those new friends who gave us rides to and from trailheads, around fires, and when we finally left the trail. There is much left to the story!
Other wonderful happenings included little things: a butterfly riding on my hat for who knows how long, a giant floaty found at Bowman Lake (it was so rad, we took it with us #packingitout), meeting a very wiggly puppy, a buck that just watched us as we wandered by (and didn’t steal anything), ptarmagins and their babies, sunrises and sunsets, the occasional moments when you could relax outside a tent without getting swarmed by mosquitoes, Katherine bringing us beers and watermelon, the fun that you can have camping with your friends in the middle of town, and so many more.
All of these little things, all of these extraordinary people, combined with the shear beauty of the land and the ability to experience it overwhelmed me with gratitude on the trip – and continues to now, as I relive it. Before we embark on the next leg of the journey (and it’s a doozy) I want to again express my deepest thanks to those who helped us along the way. I also want to thank those of you out there who help out people in your everyday life – you have no idea the impact you may have through even the smallest of actions!
Such a wonderful piece of writing. It brought many emotions to the surface. Knowing these people shared their kindness and compassion with you all allowing you to experience your lives in a more positive way.
Thanks! It was pretty incredible to be on the receiving end of so much kindness.