Monday, July 10, 2006

Mission Destination: Our Own "Back Yard"...Part 2- Tin-Man, Scarecrow, and Romulus

Wow, time sure does fly! I didn't plan to take so long to post Part 2. But I've got more to add, so that's OK. In my last post, I had started to introduce you to the Trail Ministry that I've been able to do since 1998, and I was going to share some of the things that the Lord has done in the last month. Please read that last post before you finish reading this one.

My previous post mentioned giving rides to thru-hikers and even taking them home with you. Keep in mind, I'm speaking specifically about Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers, NOT ordinary hitch-hikers (although I've picked up many of them, also) or other people groups. And remember my disclaimer: I only do things as led by the Holy Spirit. Some people I just smile at and drive on by!

The first group of hikers I want to share about includes a couple who stayed with me the night of June 23 and another hiker I picked up that same day. (That was during the several-day stretch of torrential rain that we got last month.) Earlier that day I had given short rides to several hikers...trail to store and store to trail. Two of those hikers were Tin-Man and Scarecrow (a.k.a. Andy and Lauren in the "real-world".) They had asked if I knew of anyplace to stay in the area, and I'd mentioned that The Homeplace in Catawba lets hikers camp out after 8:00pm and sleep on the gazeboes. In all, our conversation lasted all of about 5 minutes. About 15 minutes after I'd dropped them off, I realized...Duh! They could stay at my place! I drove to the next place where the trail would cross a road and left "Trail Mail"- a note in a Ziploc bag- hanging on the stile that crossed over the fence there. My note said I'd be at the NEXT road crossing at approx. 4:30-5:00 and that they could stay at my place.

I arrived about 15 minutes later than I'd planned, and they weren't there. A quick check of the trail register (~0.10 mile back down the trail) showed that they had already come through, so I headed down Catawba Mountain. I found them partway down and gave them a ride to The Homeplace. It wasn't raining much right then, so they said they'd stay there for the night. When I left them I went back to the first little store in Catawba, picked up two guys, Romulus (Harvey) and Coyote Paul (Jeff), and dropped them off at The Homeplace. As Romulus got out he asked if I did any long distance Professional Trail Shuttles (providing rides for hikers for a fee) and I said, "Sure!" He had just completed a section hike on the AT and his truck was parked at Mount Rogers. I made arrangements to come back later that evening and pick him up to shuttle him to his truck.

Normally, I call my son first to check his availability to ride with me when it's a guy, but I had a peace when I answered and I was sure Jed would be available (and he was). When Jed and I came back later to get Romulus, it was raining pretty hard and blowing. Even the protection of the gazeboes was not enough to keep the hikers dry. Tin-Man and Scarecrow came over to see if my offer was still good, so all three hikers and packs were loaded into the car. On the way to my place I learned that Tin-Man worked for the US Patent and Trademark Office for 3 1/2 years and that Scarecrow had just graduated from Yale. I dropped Tin-Man and Scarecrow off at my place, explained the idiosyncrasies of my shower knobs, showed them where the internet was, gave them the spare house key, and headed out towards Mount Rogers.

Well, I've gone long again, so I'm ending this hopes that I've drawn enough of your interest that you'll read the next one...and I'll finish my story in Part 3.

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