Trail Magic can only be accurately defined by those who possess greater communication skills than I. (Or should that be "me"?)
My favorite example of Trail Magic was a stool sitting out in front of a home on Elm Street in Hanover, Vermont. Hikers pass by to/fro the Trail.
A container of cookies proudly sat waiting for hikers to munch. For free! The sign -- written by a child using a multitude of Crayons -- simply said "Trail Magic." OK, it really said "Trail Mgic," all the more cute in my humble opinion. The additional hand-drawn rendering of the Trail more than made up for the spelling.
Trail Magic is a random gift offered to Appalachian Trail hikers, but specifically to thru-hikers -- those brave and/or screwy enough to traverse the Trail from one end to the other. Georgia to Maine is a long way by car, train, motorcycle or by air. It's a very long way on foot.
Hikers obviously get tired. Their feet hurt. They can get lonely. On cold days, especially in the rain or snow, they long for hot food. On hot days they crave something to cool them down. They always long for friendly company, except for the really grumpy ones.
Can you imagine fighting bugs, fatigue, boredom and hunger ... only to happen upon a cold drink left in a creek for you by a stranger? Or a Trail Angel offering you a burger ... for free.
Mostly, Trail Magic is unexpected. That's part of the thrill. You just never know when it's going to happen.
Unless it's not random and you do know when it's going to happen.
Take Sunday, June 29, 2014, for example. That's when some big-time Trail Angels are going to throw their Semi-Secret Trail Magic known as "Feast in the Forest."
Here's what Tom Kennedy, one of the organizers, posted on Facebook on June 23, 2014:
Sure hope we get a lot of hikers at the Feast in the Forest this year, cause I just went an bought 50 black angus burgers, five pounds of hot dogs, and 20 brat worst to add the the Veggie lasagna and meat lasagna. Also Sue from the village farmers market and bakery at the Delaware Water Gap is donating some pies to the feast in the forest.
It is this Sunday June 29th. We never reveal the exact location of the feast in the forest, but if you walk NoBo from the Delaware Water Gap, we will make sure you find us about 10 miles north.
Yes, I would love to drive there, park nearby and chow down on free food with friendly people. This, however, is for thru-hikers, please. You're welcome to attend. They might even let you flip a burger or two or help them serve. You're certainly welcome to bring something to share.
Please Note: My statement that this feast is for thru-hikers is offensive to some folks on Facebook. No doubt, all are welcome to join the festivities. No real hikers were harmed at any time during the creation of this story.
The Feast in the Forest is costing somebody a bunch of money. Hikers might toss in a buck or two, but the best way for you to help is to pop the organizers a ten or a twenty.
That way there might be a Feast in the Forest in 2015.
(Yes, I'll try to post advance warning here, if you promise to keep it a secret.)
Tags: Attractions, Events, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Camping Gear, News, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer
Thru-hiker hopefuls got their first taste of Trail Magic at Gooch Gap, 17.2 miles from the start of the Appalachian Trail.
Everyone has a story. Here are a few dandies we heard while doing Trail Magic at Gooch Gap.
Finding ways to do Trail Magic -- random kindness toward Appalachian Trail thru-hikers -- is easy at Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire.
A child's Trail Magic on Elm Street in Norwich, Vermont -- a few cookies left for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers -- made an impact on hikers and passersby.