People often ask what the term ‘trail magic’ means. In its most common definition, it stands for any kindness that is shown to a hiker while on the trail. This can come in the form of a ride, or a cooler of cold soda found trailside on a hot summer day. Most hikers will experience it at least once, and if lucky, many times. I personally believe that trail magic is here to teach us gratitude of the highest degree. If you have ever hiked hours in July looking for a water source, watching the dust collect in your Nalgene bottle, only to come around the corner and see several gallons of water left by a trail angel, you know what I am talking about!
Trail magic can be big or small and can happen on any trail. However, it has been my experience that theAppalachian Trail has its own special brand of magic.
Case in point…..
Two autumns ago, Hiker Biker Babe, Silver Lining and I were doing a four day section of the AT inGeorgia. On the second night, a thunderstorm flooded our campsite, depositing two inches of water in my tent. A long, miserable, cold night ended with my down sleeping bag completely drenched along with every item of clothing I had.
Knowing that we would not see the sun that day, we decided to bail on our hike and made alternative plans. The nearest road crossing was Woody Gap which lay six miles away, and the closest of our cars was another ten miles past that. Hiker Biker Babe, being the most amazing woman EVER, volunteered to make a run for the car while Silver Lining and I packed up our wet gear and readied ourselves for the long slog into Woody Gap.
I picked up my sleeping bag and water literally poured off and out of it. Man…this was going to be heavy. I managed to wring out as much of it, along with my clothing, as I could and stuff it all back into my pack. Silver Lining just shook her head as I struggled to get the pack on my back. Did I mention that it was heavy?! We headed off into the gray, wet foggy morning and soon found our pace. Silver Lining pulled ahead of me and the next several hours were a blur of mud and mist. It wasn’t so bad, really. You know that bumper sticker that says, “A Bad Day Fishing is better than a Good Day Doing Anything Else”? Well, that goes double for hiking! And when it is cold and wet, moving is the only thing you can really do.
When we finally reached Woody Gap, our excitement at seeing the road quickly waned as the cold mist settled in. The clouds had descended and we were literally swimming in them. Silver Lining bundled up in her extra clothes and I got out my trusty emergency blanket. It was the only thing dry left in my pack, and besides the fact that it made me resemble a big silver burrito, it kept me from shivering like crazy. We settled down onto a wet bench and tried to take our minds off the cold by discussing where we were going to eat dinner, (The Smith House) and what we were going to have, (fried chicken!).
We had been there for a couple of hours when we heard a car coming towards us. Due to the fog and mist, we did not see the red mini-van until it pulled right up to us. A woman stepped out of the van and said, “You two look like you could use some wine!” Silver Lining and I exchanged glances and said, “You bet we could!” To our astonishment, she reached into her backseat and took out a giant bottle of red wine. She rummaged around for a couple of plastic hotel cups and proceeded to pour us two glasses of wine. She handed them to us with a smile and after exchanging a few pleasantries, jumped back into her van and drove off. We looked at each other with raised eyebrows knowing that the only thing keeping us from thinking that we had imagined the entire thing was the fact that we were both holding plastic hotel cups full of wine. In the rain, on a back county road, in the middle of nowhere.
But of course, we were on the AT. And that is why, even though we were both very, very grateful, and even though we both agreed that it was quite possibly the best trail magic either of us had ever received, neither of us was really all that surprised. After all….this was theAppalachian Trail. And you have to admit, the magic on this trail sure does have style!
What is the best trail magic you have ever received? Click the comment button below and share your story.
Anna aka Mud Butt