Circumstance and the trail have put us exactly where we needed to be on Thanksgiving day. Because we had to backtrack to hike the section we missed while I was hurt, we found ourselves rolling into Hikers Thanksgiving in Hot Springs, NC with the sweat still drying on our backs.
Miss Janet is a legendary AT angel who has been working with hikers and providing services for nearly 30 years. For the past three years she has been giving out SOBO love in the form of a hiker holiday gathering for those still on the trail late in the year. She helps arrange for hikers to be picked up from as far back as VA and those already in GA and brought to what can only be referred to as a proper hiker feed.
We were lucky to be hiking in just in time to lend a hand to this wonderfully relaxed, judgement free, come-as-you-are, showers-not-strictly-required gathering.
Treasure Hunter helping mash FIVE GALLONS OF POTATOES. Using the empty can of beans as a masher.
Miss Janet and Baltimore Jack led the troops to organize the masses of food.
E-Brake and Baltimore Jack tackled desserts.
The giant combined mashed potato bowl. I forget his name but he has section hiked the whole AT with his family; his wife, 3 daughters (the youngest being 7), and son…
Moe is 10 and this was his second Hiker Thanksgiving.
The back of Miss Janet’s van… My favorite highlights including
“Trail Dames, We are the Wild Life!”
“What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?”
“My other car is a pair of boots. AT”
Overall, it was a group of about 70 strangers coming together to enjoy food and good company. We probably knew 4 people when we got there but when we left we had a dozen new friends. There were even people there who weren’t hikers. I guess that welcoming vibe stretched out into the town because a few locals stopped in to eat and talk. We all worked together to put it together, and in proper hiker fashion, put it AWAY! What few leftovers remained were spread throughout the community.
I feel especially lucky that despite being away from my family and friends during the holidays, I’m surrounded by this amazing community of people.
…And remember to hike safely during hunting season 🙂