Hello friends! I’ve just purchased my plane ticket, so everything seems so final now! There’s one last big piece that I want to put in place, though, and for that I need your help.
My time on the trail has given me plenty of time to think. And it’s also, surprisingly, given me the opportunity to reflect on a lot of things. I’m choosing to spend 5 weeks walking in the woods in winter, alone. It may get cold, but I’ll have a great sleeping bag, a stove for tea or even Instant Starbucks lattés, and shelter from the wind every 10 miles or so. My clothes are all top of the line and do a pretty good job of keeping me warm.
The new Green Cocoon
As a hiker, I also receive so much hospitality and kindness, from friends, strangers, and people I’ll never meet. Rides when I’m hitchhiking, trail magic, or a ride to the trailhead from friends (thanks, Dr Anna Foust, who will be picking me up from the airport and driving me to Boiling Springs for this winter hike!). I’ve talked before about how much this means to me– the cold cokes, the coupons for free gelato, the couch to sleep on in a church, the shared bag of candy or foraged ramps.
A free beer from a firefighter at Fontana Hilton Shelter, enjoyed under the hand dryers in the shelter bathroom
Trail magic just north of Davenport Gap
Fresh Ground making fresh ground coffee in the Smokies for the entire shelter
Trail Magic watermelon in New England, right when I’d been wishing for some trail magic to get me through a disgustingly hot summer day
But there are people who don’t have all of those things, or perhaps need hospitality just the same as I do. When I was younger and still figuring out my life (even more than I am now), I was lucky enough to stumble into a job at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville. With a lot of patience and grace, the pastors and congregation there helped show me a lot of things, and challenged the way I thought about a lot of stuff. It certainly started me on the path to the person I am now.
One way they did this was Room in the Inn. Room in the Inn does a lot of things (seriously- they do so much to help people), but what BUMC did most often in the winter was to open the doors of the church in order to be a warming shelter. The congregations prepare dinner, breakfast, and a sack lunch for the next day. Volunteers spend time with the guests, talking with them, watching movies, etc.
Room in the Inn partners with over 190 congregations in middle Tennessee (if you’re confused about where I live, that’s where I live now) to provide shelter in the winter. Room in the Inn also provides year- round services at their downtown Nashville location (you can read about it here: http://roomintheinn.org/). The core of this is warmth and hospitality- two of the most important things to me when I’m out walking.
So here’s where you come in: I’ll be hiking (hopefully!) 588.8 miles. I’d like to ask you to consider making a pledge for every mile I hike. I’ll do the work, and I’ll still write up blog entries and post pictures of my journey, but in return for the warmth and hospitality I’ve received in the hundreds of miles I’ve already hiked, and will doubtless receive on this hike, will you help pass that along to another group of people?
I’ll gather your pledges here: https://go.rallyup.com/walk-warmth
If you’d rather, make a one-time donation to another organization. And if you have any questions, please let me know!
As always, I look forward to having you along for the adventure!
Gonzo grilling up tortillas over a campfire; his advice and friendship got me through my first solo section hike
Julia driving in to give me and Dr Love a ride from Fontana Dam back to Hot Springs
Sharing my birthday and so many memories with Danger and the rest of Danger’s Rangers (Brew, Red Dragon, Stormtrooper, Stick)
So much help and support from my family- like a ride to the airport from my mom!
Maureen opened up her house to me and Bent in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
A stranger stopped and waited for me and Bent just so he could give us cold drinks and ask how our hikes were going.