Trail Angels and Trail Magic

Trail Magic on the Pacific Crest Trail
Water Cache--Pacific Crest Trail

Hats off to all Trail Angels and to any other good souls who make Trail Magic.

As defined by Michele Ray in her book, How to Hike the A.T., a trail angel is a person who does kind things for hikers, such as offering them shelter, food, or water. Trail magic is comprised of the serendipitous, silent acts of kindness performed by trail angels.

Trail angels while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail
Trail Angels--Appalachian Trail

Trail Magic can be an exhilarating experience. Imagine yourself tired, cranky, and beat up from the trail. Most of all you are thirsty. You’re low on water and what water you have is warm. All of a sudden, you see a piece of cardboard fastened to a tree. ICE COLD DRINKS STRAIGHT AHEAD ON RIGHT! it says. Really? Can this be true? Sure enough, there’s a cooler stashed beneath a pine just off the trail. You swing up the lid and packed in ice are Mountain Dews, Cokes, Gatorades—bottled ice water!

Yes, there are such grand and considerate people in our land. On the Pacific Crest Trail, trail angels regularly stock caches of bottled water in gallons along the desert boundary. These people are so dependable that their water caches are listed in the trail guides. They may be volunteers from hiking clubs, who take turns, but whoever you are, please know that we hikers appreciate it.

At an Appalachian Trail junction near the town of Andover, Maine, an old man sat on a stump with a basket of fruit beside him. An apple never tasted so good. This trail angel told me he came to the same spot several times a week during thru-hiker season. He had peaches, pears, and plums, besides apples.

Talk about trail angels. The picnic photo is from the top of Beauty Spot, a bald in North Carolina, right on the A.T. The three ladies on the left are trail angels. They drove a van, piled with food, to the top and shared with thru-hikers all day. The occasion? Easter Sunday, 2003! Need I say more.

What trail angel or trail magic experience can you share?

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020.

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