Monday, July 28, 2014

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER: SPECTRUM

We will have owned the cabin two years this coming October.   I can hardly believe it. Two years.  

Almost the entire first year was spent renovating, so I was up there pretty sporadically. Since the almost completion of the renovations about a year ago (Are renovations ever complete?), I have visited our home away from home quite regularly.  This summer I practically lived there full time.



I am still amazed at how each and every time I go to the Little Cabin on the Trail, I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting people.  I don't know why I am so amazed since I specifically prayed that God would send us people with whom to share His love.  

Two weeks ago, Tessa, Kenzie, Jett, and I had just returned from creek glass hunting and were having some lunch when a hiker passed by on her way up the trail.  Jett, who is just three, has gotten quite friendly with the folks going up and coming down.  He mimics us and yells, "One more mile, just one more mile to the cafe."  Quite often--and I am not exaggerating--people just open the door to our screen porch and enter, thinking that our little cabin is the Creeper Trail Cafe--which is famous for its chocolate cake ever since Southern Living did a story about them years ago.  So Jett feels it is his job to keep everyone straight and moving in the right direction--toward the cake.  


On this particular day, Jett shouted a greeting to the hiker, and she offered him a friendly salutation.  I turned to see who he was talking to, and I asked her if she was hiking to the top of the mountain, about 11 miles.  When she told me that she was actually hiking the Appalachain Trail, I was shocked, intrigued, a little concerned for her, and instantly willing to become invested in her hiking journey.  

I invited her in to visit, and she said, "Really?  Are you sure?"  Of course, I was sure. I needed to know why in the world a young girl would want to walk from Georgia to Maine, apparently by herself!  I needed to know how long she had been walking, what kind of shoes she was wearing, what she was eating, and what her mother thought of her adventure.

  

I grilled her, and she didn't seem to mind one little bit.  

She had been walking for about five and a half weeks.  She was from Louisiana.

She is 24 and had never hiked before.

She had started with a friend who quit after a few days. Her friend left the hike, apparently not a fan of sweating and climbing, so took a beach vacation instead.  


She had just loaded up on ten days worth of food.  She had been eating a lot of Ramen noodles.  

Her pack weighed about 40 pounds.



She ditched her tent and all but two outfits.  

She found out that cotton clothing took too long to dry.

She should have bought her shoes just one size too big instead of one and a half.

She slept in the shelters along the trail.

She had been chased by a bear.

She had been sprayed with bear mace by another hiker (completely on accident).

She had mice crawl all over her while she slept--or attempted to sleep--in the shelters.

She was going as far as her money would take her.  It cost her about $1.25 a day, and she had enough to get to West Virginia at that point.

Her family did not seem to have much of an opinion about what she was doing.

Her trail name is Spectrum, given to her by another hiker, as is customary.  It means colorful, which she is.

She had been traveling with friends she met on the trail:  Chef John Wayne, Bach, Nails, Wounded Knee, and Crazy . . . something or other.  I forget his last name. 

Chef John Wayne traveled with spices and cooked using green peppers and wore an awesome hat.  

Bach played classical music on his guitarlele and was writing a book about a blind man and his dog on the Appalachian Trail.

I don't know about the rest.  Well, I think Crazy . . . was . .  . well, crazy.

Spectrum's real name is Amanda.

She had veered off of the AT onto the Creeper Trail to make up some time after taking a break in hopes of catching up with her friends.



I asked her what she needed, what we could do to help her on her amazing journey.  I wanted needed to help her achieve her goal, if just her goal of the day.  I felt such admiration for her.  She was determined, confident, polite, and somewhat fearless.  Spectrum was who God sent that day for us to serve.

She asked for a safety pin.  A safety pin?  Surely, we could do more that give her a safety pin.  I was feeling generous.  Take a shower, have a popsicle, eat a nectarine, load up on some granola bars.  Please, let us serve you.
  
And after some convincing, she did.  

We traded all of the above, including a safety pin to break her blisters and some cash to enable her a few more weeks on the trail, for her priceless stories.  I think we ended up with the better end of the deal.  I really do.

The neat thing about Appalachian Trail hikers is that they are as fascinated by and as interested in the people  they meet along the way as the people are about them.  When they start the hike, they are well aware of the part that others will play in their journey.  People serve hikers all along the trail.  They are called trail angels.  

So when I was done asking her a gazillion questions, she asked us a few.  And as we gave her a ride up the mountain to the next entrance to the AT, we shared about God's love for our family and His provision for healing through the Little Cabin on the Trail.  And when I asked her if we could pray for her, she said, "Yes."  

After we prayed together, we said goodbye to Spectrum and watched as she walked past  the 2"x6" painted white blaze marking the entrance to the trail and disappeared under the canopy of trees.



 Coming Soon

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER:  CHEFF JOHN WAYNE

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Denise, there was something about that writing. It was refreshing. It reminded me of the old you. Keep it up. I want to read more. And boy, the things you said, I could hear myself saying and doing them. Picking her brain. Yup, we're up for some adventure, even if it is only someone else's where we can live vicariously! I did the same thing when a boy from Scotland popped in for a night. An idea for you - we have a wall in our au pair room downstairs and visitors from far and wide: England, Germany, France, Scotland, Korea, etc have all left their mark. Even our Scottish boy did. It makes for good memories. Perhaps you could have something similar? Justine

Sharon Tomlinson said...

A beautiful story. Thank you.

Alicia Ellis said...

I'm so happy to have come across this! I was hiking the trail myself, but had to end in Virginia a couple weeks ago for my sister's wedding. Spectrum was one of my favorite people I met on the trail, and I miss her! I'm so happy to hear that she's doing well and that you helped her along the way. It seems you found her as charming and loveable as I did! -Alicia (aka 'Nails')

Denise Voccola said...

I would have loved to have met you, Nails! Spectrum spoke fondly of you. It seems that you all had a nice little group thing going on. Maybe next time? :)

Denise Voccola said...

I am glad you enjoyed it, Sharon.