What I love most about hiking isn't the trees or waterfalls or scenic vistas. It's not getting into town and eating too much ice cream. It's not the feeling of satisfaction after an 18-mile day, or the feeling of getting the tent set up five minutes before it starts to rain. I love all of that, but the very best part of hiking for me is that every time I go on a long hike, I have my faith in humanity restored.
It seems like everywhere we've hiked, Bart and I have encountered wonderful people who ease our journey and give more of themselves than we can believe. Chattanooga went above and beyond.
When we were just hiking into town, we got a little turned around on the Lookout Mountain trails (we were fine, but we didn't know that we were fine). A biker stopped and confirmed that we were not lost. We were so happy to hear it! Thank you for your guidance and support of our hike, Edwin! It was nice to meet you.
The following day, Linda picked us up and drove us to WGOW for a radio interview with Jeff (thanks Jeff!), and then to Nikki's for a fantastic lunch with trail people from the area. Linda, thank you for all your time! We could never have set up all of that without your help! Thanks for getting us to Rock Creek and for helping us meet everyone. You boosted our spirits more than you know! Thanks for all you do for trails in this area.
A huge thank-you to everyone who came to Nikki's: we only wish we'd had more time to talk to all of you! Judy, the book of the Cumberland Trail looks so beautiful! I can't wait to peruse it. Earl and Nancy Jo, thanks for coming out and hopefully we'll see you down the trail! Bill, thank you so much for lunch - we'd like to hear more of your stories before we leave Tennessee! And Bob, thanks for joining us and helping us get un-turned around in a couple of spots. It was great to have a local tour guide for the afternoon. And Rabbit, thanks for following us to the trail for the interview and for playing phone tag with me for a day. We'll be in touch!
It is amazing how in one afternoon, I was able to go from "very nervous" about how the Cumberland Trail would go to "extremely excited" to get on the trail.
I know there are other trail folks in the area that we didn't get to meet - thanks to all of you who are involved in the Great Eastern Trail and Cumberland Trail! We'd love to meet more of you down the trail and thank you in person for your time and support of the trail.
Finally, I cannot thank Richie & Shannon and family enough for their hospitality here in Chattanooga. Because of them, we were able to slackpack across town, get cleaned up, rest, relax, eat delicious food, and I was able to recover from some bug that I caught. It's no fun being sick like I was, but if I had to be sick, I'm so grateful I was with you guys. Thank you Shannon for going into mom-mode and getting me a doctor's appointment yesterday, and thanks Richie for playing chauffeur. And thanks to the whole family for putting up with me in my zombie mode. I swear, I'm not always that much of a punk. Bart and I have felt so welcomed here. We really did plan on hiking out today now that I feel halfway human, but it is 11:30 already. We'll see what happens.
Thank you, Chattanooga!