We catch rides from strangers once to twice a week in order to get into town to resupply or wash ourselves. Sometimes its a quick hitch with the same basic questions: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? You walked here from Maine?
And then sometimes things get a bit more interesting…
Here are a couple examples of the more interesting rides we’ve acquired.
We popped into Great Barrington, Massachusetts to do wash and to bowl at the bowling alley which inspired The Great Lebowski with our trail friends Spoon and Footloose. The community center let us all camp in the back for free.
On our way out, we caught a ride for the 4 miles to the trail head. The guy who picked us up looked a bit like Bill Murray with graying hair, a receding hair line, and cargo shorts. He made sure to warn Treasure Hunter not to bump his baby, the guitar in the back seat. He told us about how he is taking lessons in Mass, but he hikes the AT in CT. It was his dream when he was younger to hike the whole trail.
Anyway, we get to the trail head and between bids to be safe and enjoy the hike, he stops me as I’m getting out of the front seat.
“Hey, I’ve got something for you guys. Get yourselves some food next time you stop.”
And he proceeds to give us all the cash out of his wallet.
It was astounding for this guy to do us a favor by giving us a lift, and then to give us cash on top of it. It was only $13 dollars, no huge sum, but it was literally all the cash he had in his wallet and he just gave it to me. The generosity of some people we have met… it never ceases to blow my mind.
Another time, when we were going into Gorham, New Hampshire, a lady picked us up on the opposite side of the road. We were following the road with our thumbs out, and having terrible luck at it, when a beat-up pick up truck going the other way stopped.
A lady popped her head out of the window and yelled, “Where ya headed?”
We informed her we were walking to Gorham.
“Not that way, you’re not! Gorham’s that way!” She pointed in the direction she had been driving. “Wanna ride?”
Not only did this woman stop to take time out of her day to correct some lost hikers, she gave us a small tour of the little town, pointing out to us that the liquor store and the laundry mat were neighbors and that there was pizza and ice cream across the street. She also took us by a yard sale which is where Treasure Hunter discovered the Redwall books and fell in love with Brain Jacques’s woodland world.
One of my favorite things about life on the trail is that you have no idea what is going to happen when you wake up in the morning. There are the obvious constants, like we are going to walk for a long time today, but all the things in between are adventures and new experiences. Sometimes people and places turn out to be creepy and weird, but most of the time it all works out as long as you keep a positive perspective.