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Trail Magic

Started by Jack89, October 25, 2015, 10:45:13 AM

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The term "Trail Magic" is used by long-distance hikers to describe unexpected acts of kindness, usually on one of the long trails like the Appalachian Trail (AT).  It can be as simple as someone offering you a soda at a road crossing to a full blown hiker feast with grilled food, beer and a ride to town for a resupply.  People who provide "Trail Magic" are called "Trail Angels" and in my opinion are most deserving of the title. 

Trail Angels come from all walks of life.  They can be members of Adventure/Trail clubs, church groups, family member of thru-hikers, or former thru-hikers.  Often they are just nice people who live in nearby trail towns and want to lend a helping hand.  Some folks would, without hesitation, take you into their homes for a day or two.  There are even a couple of trail towns like Damascus, VA and Hanover, NH that have networks dedicated to helping thru-hikers.  Dartmouth College has an outing club that provides free space for hikers to store their packs and charge their phones while they're in town.

I hate to say this, but the many church hostels on the trail were pretty amazing as well.  They gave you a place to sleep, shower, wash your clothes, charge your phone, a place to relax and socialize, rides to and from the trailhead, and a free home cooked meal every now and then.  You could give a donation if you wanted, but it wasn't demanded, and I never had anyone try to push their religion down my throat.  Just good people.  There's a religious "cult" called the Yellow Deli (I shit you not) that has several places along the AT and were a favorite of many thru-hikers.  Some stayed with them for as long as a week enjoying their company.  Free food, free rides and a free place to stay.  I never stayed at their places, they sounded a bit weird, but in retrospect I wish I had.

At first I wondered why people were doing this.  I think some of the church groups are doing a little passive evangelizing, but most people seem to be doing it because they enjoy helping others.  My six month thru-hike wasn't just a great adventure, it also restored my "faith" in my fellow human beings.  There are some truly wonderful people in the world.