I promised several blog posts over the next few months regarding, my good friend, Baylor's journey on the Appalachian Trail. This post is about 5 days late from the actual update so he is somewhere closer to the 400 mile mark than the 300 mile mark. I actually got to talk to him for quite a while on the phone. Let me start with a quick recap. Baylor started the Appachlain Trail on May 22, the day after he graduated, in Harper's Ferry. He is a Flip-flop hiker and is currently northbound (NOBO). He will complete the Northern half of the trail around August 4th, and then he will be meeting his Father in Harper's Ferry to hike southbound (SOBO). He will complete the 2,200 miles of the trail in early November.
"Hey man I just crossed the Pennsylvania/New Jersey Border yesterday [June 8th]. I am meeting up with my family and spending some time with my trail family and actual family."
On the trail there is a tradition of adopting a trail name. This trail name is usually bestowed upon the the thru-hikers by their trail family (a group of hikers moving in the same direction around the same pace). Baylor has earned the trail name Keller, this is a reference to Helen Keller, apparently he has great listening skills. Trail names are unique because they often are bestowed after your trail family notices a weakness or a exceptional strength that marks your journey. I think this represents one of Baylor's hopes for this journey is for him to hear what God's plan is for his life.
I asked Baylor what his thoughts have been so far. He told me he has been most amazed by the pure generosity and love that people have shown him and his trail family. Another tradition is something called "Trail Magic". This is simply something that people living near the AT or hikers do in order to make thru-hikers journey easier. It can be grilled burgers by a road crossing, water in especially dry spots, or letting hikers hitch rides for free. While these seem to be small acts of generosity, they make a huge impact on those who are hiking the trail.
He also talked about how his trail family took him in. Especially when all they knew was he was a complete stranger, hiking in the same direction. Baylor said the love he has seen and felt on the trail is in stark contrast to what our small towns and world seem to hold. He talked about the fact that people listen to understand, not to leverage people. Everyone on the trail is seen as a person with a clean slate. No matter the past that haunts them, love covers the imperfections and makes deep impacts. Baylor's question was "Why can't the world show a love like this?". I don't have an answer to this deep question but I know as Baylor takes one step at a time, God will speak and Baylor will listen. This journey is just a short chapter in Baylor's story, yet it will have a deep impact in the rest of his story.
Baylor has asked for prayer for a few things. He asked that we continue to pray for him and his hike. Pray for his feet and blisters and strength. Pray for good weather. Pray for his trail family. I ask that you pray that and much more. Pray for Baylor to hear God. Pray for the deep lifelong impact of this journey.
Side note: The titles of the remaining updates will be numbers. This is number is not accurate but a representation of the number of steps Baylor has taken thus far on his journey.