When a friend of mine heard we would be hiking the Ozark trail, she texted me something about falling in love.
There’s an element of truth to what she said about me falling in love with the trail. The Ozark trail is one of the most beautiful locations I have ever hiked. You feel like you are in a completely different world sometimes, surrounded by a rain forest that couldn’t possibly be in the middle of Missouri. With barely anyone else on the trail, it feels like an untouched wonder of the world. It’s truly an incredible place and I’m still processing how fortunate we are to have hiked so much of it.
While there’s the physical beauty of the trail, the part I’ve taken the most away from is the beauty of the people in this state. A number of times when we’ve jumped off the trail we would be in the middle of small towns and find the most generous and kind people we have ever met.
When we lost Taylor, the paramedics in Viburnum let us stay in their crew quarters, shower, and do laundry.
While we did car shuttling, we stopped in Ellington at what we thought was an established restaurant. The place was a quilting organization called Stitches of Love that serve food on the weekends to earn money for their quilts, all donation based. The woman who greeted us at the door literally laughed so joyously while saying “I love life”, and later gave us her number to call in case we ran into any trouble.
Then there were the owners at Brushy Creek who let us stay for $8 a night and fed us the most delicious meal we had in days, and gave us an abandon hiker box filled with extra goodies.
And most recently, we met a man who gave us a ride into the town of Bunker, MO when Taylor’s foot was at its worse. He dropped us off at the Woods Dairiette, the town restaurant where he said his aunt, Barb, would take care of us. She put us up in a building behind the restaurant free of charge and kept us fed all day long. The next day her husband drove us over an hour to a trailhead about 20 miles from the end and refused to accept any money for it.
We had a great conversation with Barb about the generosity of people in Missouri. She had story after story of times their small town of 400 pulled together for one another, and we believed her when she said all of Missouri is like this. Every time we talked about the generosity we experienced, she smiled and said “it should always be this way.”
We never expected to find what we did in Missouri and it’s been such a great reminder of the good in people. I feel so humbled by the incredible things these folks did for us and I will strive to continue creating the world Barb envisions where helping others out is second nature.
We’re officially off the trail, if you couldn’t tell from the influx of social media as of late. We rolled the dice and California called our names, so we drove 26 hours out to the Golden Coast. We’ll be traipsing around here for a couple of days then heading back out East. Till then!