Even though I didn’t go to bed until around midnight last night, I awoke at 6:00. When I remembered that today was a rest day, however, I went back to sleep until 9:00. At that time I got on the phone to set up a shuttle back to the trail for tomorrow. My first try was the legendary Miss Janet, a wonderful lady who has been helping out hikers for many years in the Erwin area. Even though she was booked for the early morning, she said she could drive me at around 11:00. Wanting to do another 20 plus mile day, I took her advice and called Tom “10-K” Bradford instead. Tom said that he would be more than happy to pick me up at 7:00 in the morning for the shuttle back to Devil Fork Gap. Still, it was truly an honor speaking with Miss Janet.
With my shuttle set, I walked back to McDonald’s for a hotcakes, sausage, and coffee breakfast. Then I meandered up the Main Street of Erwin to a Dollar Store and Food Lion. Since I’m going to be doing some slack packing over the next two or three days, I decided to invest $3.00 in a very light day pack. Also since I’m only carrying about 15 lbs. in my ULA Circuit, the 3 or 4 oz. extra weight will be negligible. Then as I was walking back toward my motel, I noticed two hikers of about my age on the sidewalk headed toward me. They asked how far it was to the grocery store, so I gave them directions.
While we were talking, a gentleman in a pick-up stopped and rolled down the window (it was an old truck). Noticing that we were hikers, he asked if we needed a ride anywhere. I too advantage and accepted his offer of a ride back to the motel. In the brief span of 5 minutes I quickly discovered much about trail angel, Robin Sullins. Having originally been from Detroit, Robin rattled off the starting line up for the Tigers of the late 60’s just as easily as if he had been doing play by play. When I told him I had seen my very first major league game at the old Briggs stadium, we immediately established a rapport.
But then as Robin pulled into the Super 8 parking lot something else happened. Before departing his truck, I told Robin about Don. When I mentioned ALS, Robin removed his sunglasses, revealing the beginning of a tear in his eye. Almost choking up, Robin stated, “My mother died of ALS.” So for another ten minutes or so Robin shared how he had taken care of his mom after she was diagnosed at the age of 68. Here was a man who truly understood the horrendous conditions of the disease. Robin gave me his cell number, offering to help me in any way he could while I’m in the Erwin area. As my new friend drove away, I sensed that each of us had helped the other in a small way. We never know what person might appear in our lives who brings with him some degree of understanding and comfort.
For much of the afternoon I simply rested in my room. I did plan out the next five days tentatively. It’s always good to have a plan, but it’s also wise to be flexible. Well, I think I’ll walk over to town for some supper before a little TV and hopefully another comfortable night’s sleep in a bed before I resume my hike northward tomorrow on the good ole Appalachian Trail.