One of the things you realize once you've spent some time on the trail is that you have to, from time to time, rely on the kindness of strangers.
This can be frustrating when you are on the trail to find independence and freedom, but if you roll with it, you'll find many treasures mixed in with your reliance.
Something I quite enjoy is the necessity of coming into town for resupply and a hot shower. I've never spent any time on the East coast, so this is a great way for me to get to know this part of the country. But, coming into towns means finding rides, getting directions to laundry and outfitters and food and entertainment.
You really do, as Blanche Dubois says, have to rely on the kindness of strangers in a lot of these situations. For many hikers, town is a fast stop, usually at most just overnight, if that. They don't have a chance to see much of town or meet many locals. The curse, or the blessing, of our hike is that we have had a few (I mean LOTS) bad weather days where we get stuck in town. It's a drag, because it's expensive and we're not hiking (which is our job right now). However, the joy is that we have the opportunity to really get to know some of the people we meet.
One of the most recent examples of this is our eight (yes eight) day stay in Franklin during some of the most unseasonably cold weather we've had this year. We stopped into a small new Outfitter in town for a few odds and ends. What we found at Outdoor 76 was not just a place to buy new gaitors and shoe inserts. We found friends. We found people who really cared about getting us back on the mountain and went out of their way to help us get there. Cory and Rob, who run the shop, have been some of the friendliest people we've met since starting this journey.
I hoped that in taking this journey, I'd learn something about myself, grow closer to Pete, and meet some people to share the adventure with. You know you've done that when at the end of your hike, you don't just want to send them a thank you card for "being a part of your journey", you want to call them up and invite them on the next trip.
I'm sure that we will meet a great many people as we continue to hike, and there will be other people who are friendly and touch my heart in some way. But, these guys are the first people we've met that I was really sad to say goodbye to.
Cory, Rob, good luck with your new adventure. I wish and pray for all the best for the both of you. We'll see ya soon.