Trail Magic

Trail Magic

PB140116        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

Thanks for the dance…

Thanks for the dance…….


One of my favorite songs in the whole world is by The Burns Sisters, and is called, “I’m Gonna Dance Upon This Earth”.  From the first acapella chorus of “I’m gonna dance upon this earth…..I’m gonna find some joy in all this madness. I’m gonna be the one that you see, living here now, feeling free”, I literally feel possibility flood through my spirit.  So when I started Trail Dames, I knew that this song had to be our theme song.  I wrote the Burns sisters and explained what I wanted to do with it, and they graciously gave us permission to make it the anthem of Trail Dames everywhere.

As I put together the website, I programmed the song to come on each time the home page is opened.  I put a link on the site to make sure that other Dames could locate this fantastic music, and I went on with life.    It wasn’t until about a year after Trail Dames was born that I began to get a lot of comments on the song. One day, we were hiking and one of the Dames pulled out her cell phone and actually played the song as we treked up the mountain.  Several of the women smiled and sang along and before I knew it, the anthem was ringing through the trees. It was then that I knew that women really were listening to the message this song held, and that it was resonating in them like it had in me.

As Dames, we change the words to “We’reGonna Dance Upon This Earth” and we even have it printed on our tee-shirts.  The references to our song began popping up more and more often during our outings until these days, you can hear it spoken or sung at least once on every hike.  My heart speeds up each time someone says those words because I know that the message that Trail Dames wants to instill in all women is taking root and blossoming.  Our newest Dame, Sherry, said it best after her first hike with us, when she wrote an email of thanks and ended it with, “Thanks for the dance lesson”.

Every idea, motivation and inspiration that I wanted Trail Dames to stand for is concentrated in that simple sentence.


We are going to celebrate this world.

We are going joyfully forward into our lives.

We are going to revel in the possibilities that are pointed our way.

We ARE going to dance upon this earth.

Have you ever had a song that moved you like that?  I would love to hear about it!  Click the button below and tell us about it so we can dance along.  And while you are at it, go to the Trail Dames website and hear the song for yourself! And then, go to the Burns Sisters website and order your own copy.  You will be dancing in no time!


Anna aka Mud Butt

What Exactly Is A Dame?


So, what exactly is a Dame?


The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a dame as a:

  1.   -woman of rank, station, or authority
  2.   – the mistress of a household
  3.   – the wife or daughter of a lord
  4.   -a female member of an order of knighthood
    and, my personal favorite……….
  5. -an elderly woman

I don’t know about you, but that is the driest, most boring definition I can imagine. Ok…so being a woman of authority…that works.  We are all daughters, and some Dames are wives.  Some are even, (gasp), elderly.  But that is where a dictionary dame and a true Dame….a Dame with a capitol “D”….part company.

When I hear the word ‘Dame’ I think of women with chutzpah, strength and attitude.

Gutsy women

Mae West was a Dame, as was Marlene Dietrich.  My all time favorite Dame is Jessica Tandy.  Jessica Tandy was in her 80’s when she skinny-dipped on screen in“Camilla”.  Only a true Dame would have done that!

And, Remember Whoopi Goldberg telling Reebok what they could do with their shoes on the David Letterman show?  Yep…she is definitely a Dame.  As a matter of fact, pretty much all of the View women are Dames!

These women are tough, beautiful, smart, loving, opinionated, brave, funny and talented.   Most of all, they are not afraid to let their Dame-ness shine out.  No hiding their lights under a bushel for these women.

So what about the other Dames out there?  Those that aren’t famous?  Let me tell you……Dames are everywhere!   When Trail Dames started up in 2007, Dames started crawling out of the woodwork.  They came from homes, jobs, suburbs and cities.  Some of them were 90 years old and some were only 20.  They truly were every shape and size, and came from every facet of society.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what would bind us all together.  There were some very disparate mind sets and I didn’t know if just being women was enough to provide a common ground for us all.

Throughout the last year, however, the deeper attributes of these women came out and through those, we found our connections.   You see, being a Dame isn’t just about being gutsy and strong.  It is also about being gentle and kind.  It is about letting your guard down and allowing the women around you to see your human-ness.  It is about feeling scared, but doing it anyway.

I see Dames on every hike we take.  A hiking trail will bring the Dame out in a woman faster than you can say ‘switchback’.  You can always hear belly laughter pealing out through the trees, and sometimes you can see the tears from an overwhelming week working their way to the surface.  You see Dames help each other up and over logs, and you see them give space to those needing some peace.

Yes, there are Dames everywhere.  And not a single one of them is represented by Merriam Webster.

What about you?  Who is your favorite Dame and why?  Click the comment button below and tell us about her……

Anna aka Mud Butt

What is “Trail Dames”?


Welcome to the new Trail Dames blog! My name is Anna, but my hiking friends call me Mud Butt.  It is a name that has been honestly and hilariously earned, and one that I am proud to wear.  A year and a half ago, I became frustrated with the lack of women that I saw on hiking trails across the country.  Even more than that, I was disapointed by the lack of women that looked like me. So, I decided to do something about it.  Within hours, Trail Dames was born, and 350+ members later….we are going strong.

What is Trail Dames?  Trail Dames is a hiking club for women of a curvy nature.  A Trail Dame is someone that wants to go for a stroll in the woods.  To enjoy all of the beauty this world has to offer without worrying about running up the mountain or struggling to keep up with others.   A Dame might not know exactly how much she is capable of, but she knows that there is strength hidden within her.

This group was born to help women find that strength.  Oh….and then we plan on taking over the hiking trails of this country one mountain at a time.  Won’t you come join us?

Stay tuned to this blog.  You will hear stories of wonderful women getting in touch with their inner Dames, and who knows….you just might get in touch with yours.  In the next post, I will tell you about some of my favorite Dames and why they inspire me each and every day.  Until then… see you on the trails!

Anna aka Mud Butt