This last Monday as I was leaving Helena to drive back to Martinsdale, I noticed two young men walking single file along US 12-East headed for Townsend. It was almost 5 pm. Dark clouds churned overhead. The hikers pushed “strollers” marked with orange safety flags. They were leaving town at a good clip, moving with confidence into some BIG and wild Montana country. Seeing them, I felt pangs of both nostalgia and longing. I want to be walking with them… I thought.
Five days later, I looked out my kitchen window and discovered the same pair of hikers rolling into Martinsdale. I knew they were headed my way — my neighbor had heard through the grapevine that the two 19-year old Washington State University students were walking across the United States, from Seattle to New York City, raising money for the Seattle Childrens’ Hospital. She also said they’d be passing through our tiny town any day now.
I met Cameron Coupe and Zan Roman as they walked past my house, and I offered them a place to stay. They parked their strollers in my garage, and then took off on their skateboards to explore the town of Martinsdale. We went out to dinner at the Crazy Mountain Inn. At my house, they did laundry, took showers, wrote in their journals at my kitchen table, and crashed for the night in my living room. They fell asleep listening to the Harry Potter series-on-tape, playing the book out loud over a miniature speaker they carried with them.
After spending months hiking on the Appalachian Trail with my dog, Kirby, and friend, Maureen, I know what it feels like to take a very long walk. Cross-country hikers can only go as fast as their legs will work. Their main focus in a day is getting from point A to point B. They carry their whole lives on their backs (or in strollers). And they are quite happy people. Hosting these two young adventurers brought back all of those feelings, and many great memories. Countless people helped us during our hike (we called them “trail angels”) — I was thrilled to pay forward the generosity of those strangers who quickly became our true friends.
If you see two young men zooming down a hill into your town on skateboards, pushing strollers pull of gear in front of them, that’s probably Cameron and Zan just passing through… offer them a place to stay and some grub and you won’t regret it. They’re great company…
Happy trails, Cameron and Zan!
Follow their progress at http://www.walkforseattlechildrens.com/