I don’t usually go on the AT Outreach.  Historically it has been a dad/daughter trip in our family.  This year things were different.  I was
going to have faith and trust that my husband, recovering from a serious heart attack, would be just fine there in the woods, near the trail, in the environment he loves.  I was not planning to go.  But a friend asked me to be there.  It’s important to be there for people.  I was happy to go.

Being there
for people comes in so many different forms…big ways, small ways, time, a smile, lending a hand, calling out in prayer, I could go on.  Being there for people is what we as believers are called to do, I think.  I think Jesus was, and is, in the business of being there for people.

At our base camp just off the trail, that’s what we did.  We spent our time being there for people.  And the people came.  Sometimes we gave out 4 apples in an hour.  Sometimes we served breakfast to 40 people in an hour.  We were there for one basic reason; we were just being there for people.  It really is that simple.

Most hikers were thrilled to see us and sit down, eat, chat a while.  Most said thanks, or something of the equivalent.  Most left happy and smiling.  But one hiker in particular absolutely could not believe that we were just hanging out, serving, being there for people. This particular hiker said thanks many times.  He hung around our base camp for hours.  He arrived mid-afternoon one day, around 2pm when things were very quiet.  I invited him to have an apple, get fresh water, and rest.  I told him we would have dinner that evening and even breakfast the next morning.  He chatted for a minute, took an apple, and headed back to the trail.

Within 30 minutes he was back.  And he stayed.  And he talked to everyone.  I mean everyone. He told everyone how he found our camp, how I offered him an apple.  He just could not believe our kindness, our “trail magic.”  He was happy to receive an apple and fresh water, so when we began serving dinner, he was just thrilled! Soon he got out his selfie stick with smart phone attached and began filming our set-up.  He was so excited and so grateful about our being there for him and for other hikers. He enjoyed dinner and meeting new friends.  He camped with us overnight and enjoyed breakfast the next morning, with more selfie stick filming! He was a talker.  He has a story.  For that time, we became part of his story.  That’s the really great part of just being there for people.

Katrina Winchester
Nashville, TN