The shaggy dog

Day 15–July 18 (Kantner, PA-Laurel Mountain, PA, 12.1 miles)

Little did I know when I got up this morning that I was about to become a Shaggy Dog. Pushing through the pain of my throbbing ankle I climbed Laurel Mountain on Route 30 and, when I reached the top, walked into Walat’s bar looking for a coffee. Instead I met Bill H.

Having embarked on numerous adventures of his own–including canoeing several hundred miles on the Susquehanna River with his dog–Bill felt obligated to return the favors of food and housing so many had offered him while on the road. He invited me to have dinner and crash for the night with him and his girlfriend Chris who was given just a few minutes warning that he was bringing me to their house, saying he was “bringing home a shaggy dog.”

Many people have asked me how I manage my personal safety on this trip. (For the record this is a solo walking trip without a support crew. All I have I carry in my 35-pound backpack.) I have on more than one occasion accepted the generosity of strangers who have taken me into their homes. Thus far there are many more people looking out for me than those who seek to do me harm. That said, after I saw Bill’s van filled with odds and ends and painting paraphernalia, it did cross my mind that perhaps there was a 10 percent chance he was a serial killer–but nothing in life is without risk. So here I am still alive and now with two wonderful new friends, Bill and Chris.

I feel fortunate to have met so many amazing people who have helped me along my way. So cheers and thanks to those who have offered me a hand and the wonderful new friends I have made. And cheers to the friends I have yet to meet.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper