I’m running scared when I come near towns these days. I am afraid that the locals are going to be at the town line with their pitchforks out warding off hikers. This is not a joke since we hear that is what has happened recently in a Bland, Virginia. Not sure what to believe but fortunately my experiences have been just the opposite. Today, I hiked 20 miles to meet my friend Bob who lives in Marion, Virginia and is a fellow endurance junkie. Bob was doing Ironman races before they were cool and has even traveled around the world to do some amazing multi-day adventure races.
Bob is a big believer in my hike and has been so supportive all along. His posts make me smile and he was eager to help us out as we came into Marion. I was a couple of hours early into the shelter and I texted him just to let him know that I had arrived. Within a few minutes he was here bearing homemade cookies and a cooler full of cold Cokes. This guy really knows what you want after a long day on the trail.
Bob took all of our dirty laundry and is going to deliver it back to us clean at the next road crossing tomorrow. He took me into town for a resupply trip to Wal-Mart and gave me a really helpful tour of the store pointing out where I could find all the hiker type food in a hurry. I loaded up with a good weeks worth of food and a few treats to bring back to the shelter. Wal-Mart was a little surreal. I shopped wearing a bandana and buff and people seemed to jump out of the way if you got too close. I tried to smile a lot (a least with my eyes) but the tension was palpable. When we got back we ordered a pizza, salad and carrot cake to be delivered and met the delivery guy down by the road.
But wait – there’s more! When he meets us tomorrow with our clean laundry he is bringing us McDonalds! It has been so sweet to soak up Bob’s generous spirit. I imagine that he has been supported like this in all of his crazy adventures and he is paying it forward in a big way. We haven’t had trail magic in a while and it’s not something that I expect these days. Still, I feel all warm inside when someone wants to to be so kind. These things don’t happen in the real world too often but the trail brings the best out in people.
So, no pitchforks yet but just a lot of smiles and helpful friends in Virginia paving our way towards Maine. We all want things to get better out there soon but in the meantime rest assured that good people like Bob are out there doing terrific things for dirty thru hikers. I guess that is something.