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  1. #1

    Default Your Most Memorable Hitch

    What's the most memorable hitch you've had whilst hiking the AT?

    I've had quite a few interesting lifts as I'm sure others have, but my most memorable was at about 8:30am one weekday at Winding Stair Gap wanting to go to Franklin NC. Many cars were passing me by and after quite a while I was wondering if I was ever going to get a lift. After about 25 minutes I picked up by a young married couple, probably in their late 20's.

    Their car was a real bomb, however they were a lovely couple. After talking with them it became quite clear that they didn't have a dime... it transpired that the husband was unemployed and wife had cancer. They were on their way to Greenville for regular treatment. They had to do the 80 mile (round or one way I can't remember) trip three times a week. At my drop-off point I offered them money for gas and they didn't want to take it but of course in those circumstances I insisted.

    I'm not normally prone to feelings of dread but on this day I had a foreboding feeling about the future for the young lady and wonder to this day what the outcome was.
    Downunda

  2. #2
    Registered User Summit's Avatar
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    My "most memorable hitch" was of quite a different nature. "Billy Bo Bob" and his son gave me a lift in the early '70s (Viet Nam was in full swing). They were chugging beers and tossing the cans out the window. BBB was lamenting about draft dodging hippies and turned around to me in the back seat with a finger pointing in my face, and said "You aren't one of them draft dodging hippies are you?" (with my long hair, I certainly looked the part). Of course I said "no," and said something very patriotic.

    After what seemed like an eternity of small talk over the course of a few miles (and 3 or 4 beers apiece in a matter of minutes), we finally arrived where the AT crossed the highway (Wallace Gap, NC) and I got out quickly, thanked them, and practically ran a mile or so up the trail to make sure I had gotten away from them. "Bubba" and "Bubba Jr." were very large guys and quite scary. The two of them could have quite easily beat the crap out of me and taken all my gear had anything I said set them off.

    It took hours of hiking the first of a five-day hike to get the encounter out of my mind and to find peace on the trail.

  3. #3

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    Sorry if this is off topic but I noticed where you are from and my most memorable hitch was on my hitch from Broome to Darwin back in '92.
    Picked up by a truckload of aboriginals who had a digiridoo and I had my guitar.
    We went to a small town and started jamming together.
    The women went and hung out by the ATM machine and begged from folks taking money out. Every time they'd score, they'd buy some wine and pass it around (slapping high fives first)
    We had some awesome awesome jams that night and I would give a lot for a recording of the music. But the memories will stay with me always.

    Oh, on the AT?
    Many there too. But my most memorable ones on the AT were when i picked up hikers.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  4. #4
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    We got a ride with an 80 yr old ski instructor from Pinkham Notch to Gorham driving this very old Cadillac; lived in the area all his life, he was great and had some fascinating stories to tell







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  5. #5
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    At a road crossing along the CDT in New Mexico, on the Zuni Reservation, we were out of water. The last "guaranteed" source, a piped cattle tank, was dry. That was about three miles ago, and the next promising source was another 10 miles. It was almost dark. We were looking at a long walk in the night. It was nearly 100F that day, too. That's the thirstiest I've ever been. We weren't in danger, just uncomfortable.

    The reservation road wasn't shown on our maps. We were surprised to see traffic on it, and stopped to pull out some maps. We didn't even put out our thumbs before a pickup stopped. Then another. Then another. Soon we had a full-blown party with beer, weed, an invitation to slaughter a pig for a feast--everything but water. We were made very welcome on Indian land.

    No one had any water, or room for three hikers and packs, so Pickle got in a pickup to go to "town" for water. He got there and the piped water system was shut off to fill the cattle tanks, like the empty one we just left. So he gave the driver some money to buy bottled water in Albuquerque and return later that night and drop it off at the road crossing, where we would camp for the night.

    He got another hitch back to the party, which had grown. As he got out of the pickup, dirty, dark with sun, drinking a Bud, one of the Zuni said to me, "You didn't say your hiking partner was a local!" We all got a laugh out of that.

    The party had disbanded by the time the water arrived from ABQ, about eleven that night. With four gallons of water, a cool desert night, a great welcome from a different culture, we were all set for another day.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    A friend of mine was hitching from St. Louis to Kansas City and got picked up by Chuck Berry

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    Many people who wouldn't stop for a person will stop for a dog. Winter and I hiked the LT in 1999 as a shakedown hike for the AT. Going NOBO at that road crossing just before Stratton Mtn, an elderly couple picked us up. They had a four door coupe and put Winter in the front between them. I sat in the back with our gear. As they drove they started asking Winter questions like how far we were going, etc. Since Winter knew the answer but chose not to I had to answer as if it were Winter answering.

  8. #8

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    Hitching in Yellowstone NP, I got a ride with a Korenian family. The father (who did all the talking) asked how long to see all the park. I answered "a life time". He replied, "Very good, but I have only 3 days". I proceeded to play tourist guide for the rest of the ride to Old Faithfull. At the end of the ride (which took a couple of hours), he asked if he could take a picture of "his American hiker friend", which of course I said yes to.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User middle to middle's Avatar
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    I could hear this car coming for a while, it had no muffler. It stopped, inside no seats or interior apolstry, the driver sat on a box, I sat on a parashute, the driver was in the army and on the sky diving team. Great guy and a great ride.

  10. #10
    Registered User Pickleodeon's Avatar
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    Hm, Sam's Gap (TN, I think).

    We decided to hitch to the gas station/little store for lunch. It was hot, and I wasn't thrilled about it slowing down our day. The four of us, plus dog, decided to give it like 20 minutes, at about 18 minutes of waiting, the first car we saw on the road came toward us, and I jumped up, being the only girl. So, two people, guy driver, and androgynous other human, in a pick-up stopped for us. The bed was completely full of lumber, so our hiker with dog sat in the bed, on top of the wood, and held the dog and our 4 packs. The other three of us crammed in the truck after moving the chainsaw, and the case of beer. Driver was smoking a joint, and passenger was holding the shotgun between the seats. They stopped at their house to drop off the gun on the way. Cause, "you get caught with weed once, and the cops are all over ya." So, he didn't want to get pulled over for having our friend in the truck bed on top of a pile of lumber.. and get nailed for having a gun in the truck. Nevermind, the joint in hand and the open case of beer.

    Turns out androgynous human was a very effeminate dude with dreadlocks. Wow, interesting ride.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    My "most memorable hitch" was of quite a different nature. "Billy Bo Bob" and his son gave me a lift in the early '70s (Viet Nam was in full swing). They were chugging beers and tossing the cans out the window. BBB was lamenting about draft dodging hippies and turned around to me in the back seat with a finger pointing in my face, and said "You aren't one of them draft dodging hippies are you?" (with my long hair, I certainly looked the part). Of course I said "no," and said something very patriotic.
    This story reminds me of the song "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels

  12. #12

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    My best was back in the late 80's. Going with a group of Scouts from Blumont, VA to Caledonia SP, PA. After we got up there, found out our shuttle driver that was to move our bus was a no-go. We decided I would take the bus on up to Caledonia, buying some solo food on the way up, and hike back South alone. Within five minutes of arriving at Caledonia, I struck up a conversation with a family (one thing I'm not good at is starting a conversation with strangers--they started it, saw the town name on the side of the bus, and knew somebody down my way)...and immediately got a ride from them down to Pen-Mar.

    As soon as I got out of their car, a couple of men in a pickup asked which way I was headed on the trail. I told them I was actually just trying to get further south to meet a group. They were from a trail club, and out doing some weedeating and sign maintenance at road crossings, working their way south. That got me almost all the way there.

    Within five minutes of them dropping me off, a National Park ranger from Harper's Ferry had me in his truck headed south...ended up letting me out at a road crossing just a couple of miles from where the Scouts were camping their first night. I walked into their camp just before dark.

    Not bad, got back down about 80 trail miles in three hitches, never thumbed or asked for a ride, and never had to wait more than five minutes between rides. That's real trail magic.

  13. #13

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    I'd had a little problem, and needed to get back to my vehicle. It was raining and I was at a road crossing that had a parking area. There were a couple of cars parked there, with people in them, but they weren't offering a ride, and I didn't ask. They drove off. I figured that a hiker showing initiative, walking toward town, would be more likely to be picked up than one not showing initiative, so I pointed myself toward town and started walking. Sure enough, a pickup approaching from the opposite direction slowed, the driver peered over at me, turned around and pulled in in front of me. As he passed beside me, I noticed the truck had lights on the cab and the insignia of the local sheriff's department on the door. The driver got out of the truck and asked if I'd like a ride. I nodded and he motioned for me to get in the bed of the pickup. I got into the pickup, with my back against the back of the cab. He asked me where I wanted to go, and I described where my vehicle was. He got in the truck and pulled into traffic.

    I looked around. I was in the back of a pickup, nestled among many big black full garbage bags. There was plenty of water in the bed of the pickup, too, from the rain. Fortunately, it had stopped raining. I grabbed the ends of my poncho so that when we really got moving I wouldn't get attacked by the flapping edges. In the cab, along with the driver, were two men dressed in bright orange shirts that said "County Sheriff..." and that's all I could read. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    We seemed to be going quite fast. We were passing everything. I guess when you are driving the County Sheriff Department's pickup truck you could go just about as fast as you wanted. I took the opportunity to grin at the people who had passed me as I trudged through the rain. I really grinned as we passed a guy who was getting a ticket (I assume for speeding). The 15-ish miles to town went pretty fast. I was deposited at my truck and so ended my stint in the back of the county sheriff's pickup truck and my most memorable hitch to date.

  14. #14
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    I stated hitchhiking in 1968 while I was still in high school. I've had so many wonderful, memorable rides over the years that I think sometimes I should write a book. I never had any trouble except from one extremely mean, surly state policeman on I 80 near Chicago in 1969. And even tho his efforts to frighten the heck out of me succeeded, his threatening actions ultimately helped me get away from him. Unbeknownst to him, I was assisted by a sweet older couple in a brand new motor home. (with food!) See ya!

    One of the many pleasures I enjoyed immensely along the AT in '06 and again in '08 was catching rides to and from the trail for various reasons. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with trail friends. For example, in '06 the Lady Brits (Sees Bears and Sun Worshiper) and I got pretty good at asking for rides from the Wayside restaurant across from Big Meadows recreational area in Shenandoah Park.

    After we finished a hearty breakfast, I would approach drivers to request a ride. My line was typically, "Are you headed north?" Driver, "S'cuse me?" Me, "I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail with those (pointing) two ladies from England. We're trying to get a ride to (such and such) a location. If you're going that direction, do you have room for 3 hikers?" We were not naive about this. (You know, the old Hitchhiking 101... "Goin hitchin'? Take a girl!") The request was carefully worded to provide the drivers with very important information... Most of the drivers thought, Ladies.... England.... Then they usually (and quickly) said, "Get in!" We wasted little time getting rides using this method. I just sat back as the ladies chatted amiably with the drivers... Their delightful British accents, laughter and trail stories entertaining us all.

    Additionally, Sees Bears is blond, so of course anytime we had to actually stick out our thumbs, we put her out front.

    Then there was the older married couple who picked us up. We learned the man driving was the woman's second husband. As we rode along, the woman spoke fondly (non-stop) of her long-departed first husband. She told us that as she and her husband drove anywhere, they followed the flights of large birds. This because her first husband told her on his death bed that he'd come back to her as a large bird... Her current husband kinda hunkered down over the wheel and didn't participate much in the conversation. We figured he was just as happy to have her talking to someone else!

    Another man who gave me a ride one afternoon in Shenandoah told me he was a German scientist who used the Hubble telescope to search for Super Novas. Now that guy was VERY interesting. Luckily, I understood his explanation of how people gain permission to use the "instrument" as he called it. It's a typical 'committee, committee, committee.' process. However, when he started explaining about measuring distances between stars using light.... Well, um... I'm afraid that explanation went over my head at light speed!

    Thanks for the memories, Downunda. I know I had the time of my life...
    When you get to those unexpected situations in life where it’s difficult to figure something out, just ask yourself, “What would MacGyver do?”
    See ya!
    Rickles McPickles

  15. #15

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    Catawba, Virginia

  16. #16
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    My most memorable was hitching into Robbinsville. A guy pulled up in what appeared to be a gremlin, pulling another car with a rope. When we got in he explained that the car he was driving didn't have reverse, and the car he was pulling, with his friend at the wheel, didn't have forword. So between the two of them, they got around. What a HOOT!!
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  17. #17

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    I needed a ride to Cabazon on the PCT but I had walked down the wrong road. So I called a cab. The cab was a beat up piece-o-crap little economy car from the 80s. The driver was a kid. He drove me at about 90 mph on the Interstate. The car was swaying and drifting and floating. Smoke was pouring out. When he dropped me off he begged me not to tell his boss how bad he drove.

    Another one was in Crater Lake. I stuck out my thumb and this older couple drove by. You know the kind. Middle class, did everything "right", waited until retirement to finally do something other than work. People like that never pick up hitchhikers. I thought to myself, they are going to turn around and come get me. When they pulled up they told me they never pick up hitchhikers but something about me made them turn around and pick me up. It was trail magic, that's what.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

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    I hitched st. louis to Nebraska with a bicycle and full touring gear. The pickup trucks appear obliged, it was an easy ride. The guy with a pint of bourbon and needed to show off his pistol was scary.

  19. #19
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryce View Post
    I hitched st. louis to Nebraska with a bicycle and full touring gear. The pickup trucks appear obliged, it was an easy ride. The guy with a pint of bourbon and needed to show off his pistol was scary.
    You hitchhiked with a bicycle???
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  20. #20

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    '02 thru I was in the front seat of a pick-up truck getting a hitch to town when the alarm on the wrist watch on the rear view mirror went off. The driver yelled "4:20" and stopped in the middle of the road to roll a joint. Other cars behind were laying on the horns but he just wound down the window, stuck out his arm and waved them by. When he finished rolling he handed the joint to me and said " light that bitch up...only reason to own a watch".

    geek

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