For hikers, trail magic is a serendipitous act of kindness performed by another. This other person is called a trail angel and may, or may not, be a fellow hiker.
In the picture above, I had been hiking and sweating a ton on a hot July afternoon and was looking forward to this stream which I’d high-lighted on my map. I couldn’t wait to fill my water bottles and hydrate. I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and you can imagine my jubilation when I followed the trail over the planked wooden bridge and saw this. It was heaven!
I found out later in the trail town of Dalton, Massachusetts, that a fellow thru-hiker, who was ahead of me, had bought a case of soda in town and hauled it back to the stream above. Now, that’s a trail angel.
Here’s another example of trail magic. Yes, it’s over-the-top. I wasn’t there, but it is the best illustration of trail magic that I know of. As the article says, Monson, Maine, is the last chance for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers to get together before their final push. This event of trail magic was planned so well, other trail angels from different areas reunited.
One of the best known trails angels is Janet Hensley of Erwin, Tenn., known throughout the A.T. community as Miss Janet. She actually drove all the way up to attend this event and, true to form, shuttled thru-hikers in the White Mountains to towns to resupply. She’s been doing acts of kindness like this for twenty years.
But it was Rick Towle of Litchfield, Maine, who set up the Monson hiker feed. He’s been doing it since 2006, except for last year when he thru-hiked himself under the trail name ATTroll. This year’s feed included over a hundred hamburgers, lasagna, five dozen ears of corn, popcorn and chips. And breakfast the following morning!
Here’s a heartfelt thanks to all trail angels, everywhere.