Welcome, Class of 2018!

The blog is a little different this year. I wrote it for an entirely different purpose and subject, then realized it was something I want all the hikers who come here to know. So, please forgive me for a re-post. Here it is:

Hiker Heaven’s doors, and my heart, welcome everyone to come and stay at our home on their PCT journey. Practical reasons force us to now check permits on our three busiest weekends, but when you come to our gate and need rest, water, assistance, we have no qualifying requirements stated or unstated. We do not care what flag you fly, visible or invisible.

Over the course of years, we’ve been given dozens of warnings about “bad hikers” by hikers and other trail angels. Some of those hikers probably actually were guilty of bad behaviors. Some trail angels wanted to create a blacklist program amongst us for anyone deemed to be a bad hiker – including banishment from all venues along the trail. I fought this vigorously and left the group in anger. I did not participate when other trail angels did in fact share their black lists.

Our policy at Hiker Heaven is quite different. Everyone is welcome, and everyone walks in the door with a clean slate. We do not put weight or credence into what gets said about anyone, and we ask our volunteers to do the same and suspend prejudgments. It is at the heart of our treatment of those who wander in. Our way of dealing with the occasional problem hiker is on the down low between us and the hiker in question. I might inform Casa de Luna of what our experience was depending on the severity of the situation, but that discussion always includes the notion that “YMMV, do what you want with the info. Not asking you to see this person the way we did, just thought you should know.”

So fundamentally, these are my core values. The idea of blacklists makes me physically ill, the entire concept is repulsive to me. I do not listen to hikers being trashed, and take them on the sum of my own experience with them when they arrive. I have no idea what their past holds, it’s not my business and I don’t care. Some have demons, burdens, substance abuse issues, and undoubtedly some are ducking the law. I know that there are some troubled people who I have served. There are no background checks on the PCT, at least not official ones. But unless law enforcement is looking for you or comes to my door about you, or you’ve stolen something in town and we are told by the store manager who has video, you are welcome here. All walking wounded and life’s detritus are welcome here.

Some choose to accept the warning as gospel, well-intended, and necessary. They share it with the blacklist committee seeking banishment. But not me. Not now, not ever. That is not what my heart lets me do, I’m just not wired that way. I have an entirely different sense of fairness, and draw the line at knowingly harboring criminals. This random quote I found really resonated with me:

“. . . though we abide by these laws and rules each day, we are not the ones responsible for their enforcement, whether we choose to break or follow the law is up to each person and enforcement falls into the hands of the criminal justice system.”

Here’s another one, the final verse (posted right next to the “Welcome” on the kiosk):

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

–Sam Walter Foss

Looking forward to meeting you!