This past Friday I ran to the post office to ship out purchases to our customers. As I pulled up, I saw two hikers and was excited. The reason for the excitement? My son, Jonathan, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) (https://www.pcta.org/) from April through September in 2017 and he was always telling me the generosity of the strangers along the trail who were called trail angels. Trail angels help hikers in a number of ways that include allowing them to camp on their property, provide food, beverage, or possibly just giving them a lift to get around an obstacle such as wildfires or landslides. As my son would call and share his latest adventure, he would see a handwritten sign in the middle of nowhere that would state: “Free food and beer 2 miles this way” and it would lead him off the trail. As he would go for the free food and beer there would be a stranger with a grill and chilled beer welcoming these hikers. At first, I was saying: “Honey, don’t go off the path, it’s probably a serial killer. You have to be careful.” The very idea a random stranger in the middle of a desert or woods to feed my son was so foreign to me.

These people helped me to learn there were others out there who were willing to help my son as he trekked through 2,500 miles of wilderness ranging from deserts to freezing cold mountain tops, through raging flooded creeks, or around forest fires and they had no ulterior evil motives. They were there to guide and help as needed. As a mother, this gave me some peace of mind that strangers were willing to be there for my son. And as I began to understand the hiking culture, I vowed if I ever had the chance to be a trail angel, I would. And Friday was the day I was able to become a trail angel.

Mount Vernon is a town of about 6,500 residence and located in southwestern Indiana. If you are to drive 2 hours in any direction from Mt Vernon, you can be in larger towns such as Nashville, Indianapolis, Louisville, and St Louis. But until you hit those towns most of the area is rural, farming communities. I never thought I would have a chance to repay the generosity to a hiker that my son received. Then I saw Mike and Dee at the post office. I recognized their oversized backpacks and knew they were hikers (a very similar backpack sat in my living for months when my son returned). I greeted them and asked them where they were from and where they were headed to. Mike is from southern California and Dee is from northern California.  Both were heading to Delaware, that is where the trail ends.

What trail? I wasn’t aware of any trail around my town. They explained the American Discovery Trail (https://discoverytrail.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvqX-2Lb25AIVwsDACh3T4ga8EAAYASAAEgIXHvD_BwE) came right through the town. What? I had no idea and most people I’ve spoke to here have no idea either.  I asked them where they were staying and they informed me at a park and suddenly I was spurting out: “My son hiked the PCT in 2017. I made a huge pot of chili last weekend and a batch of monster cookies and I would love it if you would come camp in my backyard and I can feed you. You can grab a shower and do laundry if you need to. So many people helped my son and I’d love to be able to open my home to you.”

And surprisingly they agreed. I gave them my address and told them I had to do errands and wouldn’t be home until the afternoon but they were welcomed to go in the backyard and make themselves at home. I called my son and told him what I was doing and how excited I was to help hikers and there was a national hiking trail through our town. He listened to me and then said: “Great mom, just be careful. They could be serial killers.” We both laughed and I told him I would be careful and would keep him posted.

Later in the afternoon I got home and looked out my window and there they sat. I went out and greeted them and welcomed them into my home. I put the pot of chili on the stove and we sat down and talked. I wanted to know more about them and why they were walking across America.

Dee’s name is Deirdre Fournier and she has a sign on her backpack to end domestic violence. She is wanting to raise awareness about domestic violence and to get tougher sentencing for the people who abuse their partners.  She shared with me that her sister, Julie, was abused by her estrange husband and how violent he was with her. Toward the end, Julie and her husband were issued restraining orders against each other and once the restraining orders are issued both parties were required to relinquish their firearms. When Julie’s estrange husband relinquished his guns, he gave them to a friend instead of law enforcement, which was ok. One day the husband told his friend he needed a gun and the friend gave it to him. The friend then called Julie to inform her of the gun being in her estrange husband’s possession. Julie called the sheriff and a deputy came out and took her statement. Then informed her there was nothing he could do and left. Julie’s estrange husband found her and killed her in front of their children who were 11 and 9 at the time. Dee gave harrowing statistics regarding domestic violence, how hard it is for the victim to leave, and how difficult it is to be protected even after they leave. She has a website:

www.deegoesfromtrialtotrail.com

She also has a GoFundMe account: dee goes from trial to trail. You can also follow her on Facebook: de Fournier

Twitter/Instagram: deestahdiva and her YouTube: dee goes from trial to trail

If you can support her in any way, please do.

Mike Crowley was her hiking partner since meeting up in Missouri. He was on the PCT the same year my son was and was on trail about the same time. They never ran into each other. He is introspective and has a very calming presence about himself. He began to have the idea of walking across America a few years ago and the thought never left his mind. He talked about the thought being a God thing. He asked himself what was God telling him? In time he felt the answers were revealed to him. First, to spread the light of God’s love along the way and second, time is short and we have to be prepared. What a wonderful mission to be on.

He asked me if I had any prayer request for myself or my friends. I couldn’t think of any but added to please pray for all of us every day. He nodded and said he would. Mike’s website is: www.ilikemike.com and his YouTube channel is: walk across America. Check both of these hikers out. Support them if you can and if you see them walking across America (they are heading east), tell them Karen says hello!

That night, the chili was good, the cookies were better, and the conversation between 3 friends was marvelous. I gave them a ride to Evansville and told them they were more than welcome to stay any time. They thanked me for being such a generous host but I thanked them for just hanging out and allowing me to be a part of their journey. They called me a trail angel and I was humbled. If I am a trail angel, the hikers are trail warriors and I will protect a warrior on their journey any time I can. Safe travels my friends. Let me know when you hit Delaware.

Side note: Dee says Mir’s 1500mg full spectrum CBD tinctures worked great and the CBD cream was a life saver for her feet. Thanks Dee!