February 28, 2012
By Jim Dashiell,
Well, time is
spinning towards my departure on March 25. Friends of mine, Allen and
Terri Stout, have offered to take me to the start at Springer Mountain,
Ga. I begin, rain or shine, on Monday the 26 hoping to be done before
the snow flies again in northern Maine in late September.
There's a huge
amount of planning necessary for a trip like this. Who will pay my
bills, live in my house, take care of my dog, mow my yard, mow my
pasture, mail supplies to me as they're needed, receive things I'll be
mailing back, visit me along the trail, deal with my mail, etc. I have
been blessed with a 'team' of helpers that I will rely on for many of
the things mentioned above to make my journey easier and safer. The
kindness of so many people amazes me. Many of you readers have commented
to me at the grocery, church, the bank, Lifetime Fitness, etc. your kind
expressions of hope and encouragement. I consider you a part of my team
This brings me to the concept of angels. Trail angels. They are a
colorful part of the culture of the Trail. They are people who live
along the Trail and have for years, going out of their way to help the
dirty, smelly strangers that emerge from the woods hungry and worn out.
Some 'angels' provide food such as bananas, oranges, soft drinks, beer,
cookies, cheese burgers, water, hot dogs, etc. Others provide a place to
clean up, a garage or basement to sleep in, a ride in the back of their
truck to a local grocery or fast food joint or perhaps just advice and
conversation. There's an elderly lady in Massachusetts, I think, know as
"the cookie lady." She lives near the Trail, makes cookies every day and
gives three to whomever comes to her door and asks. There's a church in
Vermont that serves an all-you-can-eat dinner every Wednesday for
hikers, most of whom sleep in a room in the church's basement. Mostly,
however, trail angels represent what is good about this country . . .
kindness without expectations. The Golden Rule lives all around us,
within us and welcomes us. You won't be able to complete the trail if
you do it for anyone but yourself but you can't complete it at all if
you try to do it all by yourself. That statement could apply to life
itself. We should all be 'trail angels' every day.
Again, if any group would like me to come talk about the Appalachian
Trail or Mustard Seed I would be glad to if possible. I hope the
community takes this opportunity to learn more about Mustard Seed and
the good it does for our neighbors.
NE on the AT is NEAT!