Day 8: Lookout, KY -> Hazard, KY (72 mi)
7:15 am - The second week begins in Lookout, KY after a wonderful sleep in a real bed at the Freeda Harris Baptist center. Despite its locale in one of the poorest counties in the country, the people here proved some of the kindest, most generous souls I’d ever encountered.
I joined them for their morning devotion, and one of the volunteers even offered to give me a lift up the first hill that apparently is infamous for dogs chasing/biting cyclists (Eastern Kentucky has a bad rap for unleashed canines). I gladly accepted their offer to skip these nasty few miles that did admittedly provide gorgeous views.
I made it to Hazard that night, a 73 mile trek over some more big ol’ hills, and found yet another fantasmic Warmshowers host to take me in. Mae and her boyfriend Luke grilled some delicious braised shortrib with some garlic aioli and some broccoli that was just phenomenal. Even better than the food, and admittedly not what I expected in eastern Kentucky, was our conversation.
Mae, at 28, is the executive director of consumer finance that helps low income folks refinance and manage their debt more sustainably, while Luke is a high school calculus teacher preparing to make a city council run. We talked for hours about all things hiking, biking, climbing, sustainability, food systems, solar and coal, urban and rural development, and WestWorld. It was so inspiring to be in the presence of two individuals who so obviously genuinely care about their community and it’s residents. Definitely a highlight of the trip for me for sure.