Off of Pacific Northwest Trail mile 249

Friday, August 9, 2019 day 20

I rose, packed up, and checked out of the motel.

Once again, I headed to the library.

On my way, I stopped to admire a young woman painting a storefront mural.

…and again, to take in a message:

I settled myself in at a corner computer with my pack, and got to work.

After some time, a woman entered. She had a messenger bag, and a lavender bandana tied around her head beneath a full brimmed hat.

“Are you hiking the trail?”

“I am!”

“What are your plans…do you have a place to stay tonight?”

“I’m hoping to hitch back to the trail.”

“I would love to give you a ride.”

“Oh, thank you! I still have a few hours of work to do here, though.”

“Oh, so do I.”

We exchanged words briefly; words of trails and studies and passions. She asked if I knew of Peace Pilgrim.

“She was the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail. It was very spiritual for her. After that, she became a pilgrim, walking over 25,000 miles across the country in the name of world peace.”

She offered me a small, card-stock bound booklet.

I accepted. I had every intention of carrying it with me.

Here are the first two pages:

She sat at a computer near mine, and we both carried on with our work in silence.

Hours passed. I felt like, though she also clearly had work to do, her time at the library that evening was extended for my sake. I found this very touching.

At a quarter to seven, just before closing hour, I began to pack up. As I did, so did she.

We began speaking. She told me of the work she was doing in bee conservation. She told me, with amused bewilderment, that she “had been a plant nerd, [she] never thought [she] would be an insect nerd!” I learned that though the bumble bee is native to North America, the Honey Bee was actually European. We reviewed maps of bees and their specific territories within the US, her fingers pointed and dragged down the glossy encyclopedia pages as she thumbed through self-made tabs. It was fascinating, the organization of bees. Certain bees only live near the coast, or only very far north, or only at certain elevations.

Her passion for her work filled me with joy and inspiration.

I loaded my things into her truck and we headed towards US Highway 95, where I would reconnect my footpath.

She mentioned that we would be passing where she lived, and that she would like to stop and collect some fresh raspberries for me.

As we drove towards her home she told me of how her and her ex used to have an organic potato farm there; that it was sort of a big deal. She described potatoes as “little jewels” that you get to dig up.

We entered the house and she went downstairs to retrieve the fruit. She mentioned that I could stay the night if I liked. We decided to check the weather to aid in my decision. She turned on the radio and we listened to a NOAA broadcast. It sounded like the storm would climax on Saturday night.

We hit the road.

We pulled in to where Brush Lake Road meets US 95. I asked her about Old US 95. We crossed the new highway together by foot, and she pointed out through the brush, the old one.

I thanked her.

We returned to her truck and I put on my pack. We hugged. “Oh, Brooke, honey.” She said, as she kissed me on the cheek.

She wished me luck. I thanked her.

Lynn was one of the most beautiful women I have ever met: inside and out.

I crossed the highway, then the brush, then Old US 95, then Idaho Highway 1, and kept walking.

I turned southwest on to Copeland Road.

I gazed at the old farm buildings; the yards with greenhouses and trampolines and old pick-up trucks parked on lawns.

Night fell. I continued to walk.

I began to wonder where I would sleep that night, and if it would rain on me before I got there.

A truck stopped and offered me a lift. There were two older men inside. I explained that I was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail and that I was looking for a place to camp, that I had not realized that it would all be private properties along these roads.

“You can come back and camp at my property.”

I asked if he could take me back to that very spot in the morning. He agreed.

I crawled in to the bed of his pick-up, squeezing myself and my pack through the open space between the tailgate and the hard-top shell it was tied to with rope.

He dropped off his friend, who came around to the bed of the truck and told me I could sit up front.

“I’m okay back here!” I called out. I have always enjoyed rides in the back of trucks.

“C’mon up front” the man called, “I wanna know who I’m takin’ home!”

Fair enough.

I crawled out and moved to the passenger seat.

Mikey and I introduced ourselves to eachother. He played music loudly and drove quickly up the road that bore the same name as his own “Duff.”

The home was over 100 years old and had been in the family for three generations. As we pulled in to the property, a giant yellow school bus came in to view, followed by streams of light and loud banging. Mikey parked and we got out. He called out to a group of people “I picked up a hitch-hiker! Here, help her with her bag, will ya.”

A man who I later learned was called “Patches”, headed over to assist me. I warned him that my pack was very heavy and that I could get it just fine. He insisted and carried it by its straps causing a pendulam-like gate as he moved. He headed towards an area beside a rather large hole in the ground, and leaned it against a wall beside an entrance to the home. I thanked him, and he returned to his work.

Mikey joined me. Told me that this area would eventually be his mama’s room. Then he took me inside to meet mama.

Isabelle Huff was tremendously kind.

“Have you had supper?” She asked. She offered me rice and collard greens and zucchini, and after that, pickles and huckleberries.

Mikey told her the story of how he came to pick me up. He asked if I could sleep in the spare bedroom.

“I’m the executive, mamas the CEO” he said.

She said that would be just fine. I thanked her cheerfully. Mikey left the two of us to chat, then returned to where the others were working.

Isabelle mentioned that I was very brave to be doing what I was. “Though,” she continued, “I have met some women who venture out on their own. One, well now she studies bees.”

“I’ve met her!”, I exclaimed.

“Lynn?”

“Yes! We met at the library. She gave me a lift back to the trail!”

I marveled at the vastness of the world made small by the interconnectivity of it all. It pleased me very much.

I asked her about the school bus and the people I saw working. She said that they were a group of eight travellers that had been living in the school bus. Mikey found them penniless at a gas station selling jewelry. He brought them home, giving them a place to stay in exchange for work.

How wonderful.

Isabelle showed me to the room I would be sleeping in.

What an unexpected pleasure!

I fell to sleep in a state of peace and appreciation, excited at the prospect of hot coffee and conversation in the morning.

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