Sunday morning… We woke up to continuing rain. Because of the weather that was sweeping through, we had decided that we would not leave out of Hot Springs, though we were really ready to get back on the trail. To help cover part of our stay, we had talked to Jeff and decided that we would work around the hostel.
We pulled ourselves out of the tent, which was surprisingly dry. We stuffed our sleeping bags into their dry bags, and shuffled into the hostel to start cleaning. The hostel had hosted a hiker feed, as a part of the Hot Springs Hiker Fest. There was a lot of clean up to do. Ryan and the kids helped to pick up the yard. A great gust of wind the night before had caused the trash cans to fly all over the yard. I started changing sheets as hikers left, and rotated loads of laundry, as well as spent time cleaning dishes. There were lots of dishes to be cleaned! It was nice to be able to spend some time doing chores that are more normal to our everyday life.
At about 8:30, Ryan took the kids down to the Hiker Breakfast, all you can eat pancakes, sausage, fruit and juice for a small fee. Perfect!
Ryan was able to get to know Sherpa, Kanga, and their sweet little one, Roo (aka Ellie). They are thru-hiking the trail with Ellie on Kangas back. They are from Virginia, so they started there. They had completed just over 400 miles when we met. They are heading to Springer and then flipping up to Katahdin, and making their way south again. They are so full of joy! You can follow them on Instagram here. We are looking forward to seeing again up in Maine.
Everyone came back to the hostel for a little bit, before heading over to church at the Hiker Ridge. Freddie showed a short video by Francis Chan and led a short discussion. There were a little over 30 people there for the service. Freddie has a heart to share the love of Christ to the hikers that come through the little town of Hot Springs. It was a really encouraging morning.
After church, we all continued to help out around the hostel, getting it back to tip top shape… then we sat around having conversations with fellow hikers, played some games, rested, and prepared to leave the next morning. Sherpa tried to help me fix Taylors sleeping pad. Unfortunately, it did not work. 🙁
Our time here in Hot Springs has allowed us to spend many hours getting to know a number of hikers. We have learned that everyone has a story. Everyone has a reason that they are out here. For some it is a continuous party, but for most it is an effort walk something off… Life is hard, we all know that. Sometimes the change of scenery, the opportunity to physically and mentally exert the energy needed to hike so many miles, the openness of others, and the chance to change the pace of life can really help one to change direction and find new purpose. Many hikers we have met have lost someone so very dear to them. They are out here to grieve the loss, and in that grieving, find a way to live again.
A common denominator about most out here is that many don’t know where they are going next. This is a season to figure somethings out. A time to take an emotional, spiritual, and mental inventory, sorting through the necessary and unnecessary, in order to move forward. I know that this is the case for us.
Listening to the stories of others has become one of the most beneficial things for me. As I listen, I learn. My eyes are opened and my heart is softened. Sometimes my heart is made so glad, and encouraged. I am inspired. I am moved. I am undone. One thing that I know has changed in me… I want to know people. It isn’t a waste of time to listen to someone’s story, even if you know you might never see them again. Face to face conversation is one of the most beautiful experiences life can offer.
Though we really wanted to be on the trail today, we see the blessing in being able to enjoy some activities that resemble our life back home, like cleaning and going to church. It is the simple things I guess.
Happy Trails – The Thru Crew