Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heflin, Alabama, to Rio Grande

Trail ford

4.2 miles

A woman driving a Jaguar with personalized plates came up to us yesterday and gave us money. I had just been to the grocery store, and was walking back along the side of the four-lane highway with Shadow on his lead, three bags of groceries for the trail in each hand. She pulled over and pressed a folded-up bill into one hand. She was crying. She said: “God told me to give you this money.”

It was after dark, and she had left the lights of her Jaguar on. She kept saying, “I don’t know why, but he told me.”

This kind of thing has happened before, even on this trail. People want to donate to our cause, whatever our cause is, or people believe in what we’re doing, or they wish they had done it themselves before retiring, or they just want to buy dinner for a hiker. Always my first impulse is: no.

But Serena, the woman who gave us the money, said: God told me to do it. Who am I to say no to God? It was almost as if it was important for her to give than for us to receive. Maybe she thought we were homeless meth-heads, and we blew her preconceptions, when the only abnormal thing we were doing was walking along the highway when everyone else was driving.

She said, “Are you camping out tonight?” I told her we had a hotel room down the road. I said we were hiking on the Pinhoti Trail. I wonder if she’d have felt better or worse about giving me money if I had pulled out my card that said: Freelance Writer and Communication Consultant.

Which is why it didn’t matter who I was or what I was doing walking down that highway after dark, again an adventurer in an alien land. What matters is that she heard the call of God and listened. She pulled over her $80,000 car. she wept at what she was doing. Maybe so I could write about it, and tell her story.

I’m now sitting in my Golite tarp, a fire burning down. Dinner’s in the pot—leftover Mexican carried out in ziplocs, mixed with trail rice. I hiked four miles out of Heflin today, up a mountaintop in hearing of the interstate. On to the next town, the next mountain.

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