Thursday, June 12, 2008

Trail Angels

Last weekend Bruce and I became Trail Angels. We had no clue what they were before we became one, but we are so glad that we did. I'll explain!

There is a trail called the Pacific Crest Trail (called the PCT to the SERIOUS hiker) and starts at the Mexico/California border and goes all the way to the Washington/Canada border. It is over 2600 miles and takes approximately 4-5 months to hike the whole thing at once. The PCT runs right behind where I live. Even though we are in Southern California, I live in a tiny little mountain community at 6000 feet. We are surrounded by pine trees and get plenty of snow in the winter. Not what you imagine for So. Cal!

We are used to seeing these hikers throughout the summer. They come down off the trail to eat in town and buy things to replenish their backpack. And that's exactly what they were doing when Bruce bumped into some of them last Friday. He started up a conversation with three hikers who were looking for a motel to stay for the night. He had called me to see if I had any suggestions and then before I knew it, he was asking if they could just stay at our place.

Well we have three empty bedrooms and as evidenced by a previous comment by my daughter, we are suffering from PTCV (Post Traumatic Child Vacancy!) We have recently become empty nesters and are having a hard time adjusting so we were desperate for company!

Bruce brought Eric, Laura and Kimbur home to spend the night. They had already been hiking for a month straight. The first order of business was a shower. We supplied them with fresh towels and they all got a steaming hot shower and then promptly crashed for a nap for a few hours. After sleeping on the ground, a bed was complete luxury!

Left to right
Erik, Laura and Kimbur

We stayed up until midnight talking to them and learning about their adventures. We found out that there are many people who help these hikers along the way and they are called Trail Angels. There is a Trail Angel in San Diego who picks up these hikers at the airport, lets them stay in their home and then drives them to the trail head. Our three hikers were number 109, 110 and 111 that had stayed in their home since May.

There are also people who leave coolers along the trail with cold water and fresh fruit which are considered worth more than gold. They restock the cooler everyday for months for the more than 400 people that make this hike every summer.

Our hikers were absolutely shocked that we would take total strangers into our home. Over and over they said that they couldn't believe their luck that they would just run into Bruce in town who would invite them to stay. And after a huge breakfast complete with bacon, pancakes with homemade strawberry jam and orange juice, they teased that in a few days they were going to wonder if this really ever happened.

We learned so much during our short time with them. Kimbur had a cool gadget that was called a "SPOT". She clicked on the spot every night and via satellite it sent a message to her mother that let her know that Kimbur was okay and it gave her Kimbur's coordinates so that her mom could go online and see exactly where she was. Pretty cool.

The hikers know exactly which towns have general delivery and they mail themselves packages that will be waiting for them when they arrive.

As they left us, they were heading for the hardest part of their hike. The Mojave Desert.

When we parted, they thanked us profusely stating that it restored their faith in humanity knowing that there are still some really good people left in the world. We felt the same way about them. They were polite, clean, grateful, fun and I never even heard one swear word. It truly was a great experience becoming a Trail Angel!

It has also made me think about the angels that have been placed on my trail while here on this earth. I think I am going to write about them later, but who in your life has been your Trail Angel?


da Bergs said...

What a cool experience Deb!

Redhoodoos said...

That's really neat. Sounds like you live in such a beautiful area. I've heard about the PCT and have wondered if people actually hike it for an entire Summer - sounds like they do. I bet they appreciated your hospitality!!

The writer and the singer said...

Hi. I found your blog over at "The Broad Sqad" blog. The whole Trail Angel sounds awesome! I also am grateful to have found your blog because I googled that SPOT gadget and it's exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks:)

Our Own Family Adventures said...

Wow....grat post. Let's trail angels...well
1. My mom (for sure!)
2. my husband (he is an angel)
3. my kids--i learn so much from my kids!!

i'll be thinking about this all day! :) Thanks for the great thought!!!!


cookingsherri said...

Congratulations on getting your wings! Seeing as how my life can best be described as one very long I Love Lucy episode, I have provided angels with plenty of opportunity to practice their craft. I am grateful to be able to say there are too many to mention! Love your blog! Keep it coming.

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