Trail Magic can be the difference between a walk in the park and a dreadful day climbing one mountain after another.
Strangers helping strangers -- for no profit or glory -- is the essence of trail magic.
Trail magic comes in many forms: energy drinks ... bottled water ... donuts ... a place to stay overnight with a hot shower and wi-fi -- anything offered to thru-hikers to keep them refreshed and encouraged.
My favorite example of trail magic was found on Elm Street in Norwich, Vermont on Monday, July 30, 2012.
Although I live near the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Georgia, my work allows me to travel the AT in search of hikers, special spots, and festivals north and south.
My delightful duty brought me to Hanover, New Hampshire to track the trail through town. If you love the AT, that's a bountiful day "at the office." As the pictures below will attest, the trek was tremendous.
As Suzannah and I crossed the Connecticut River heading from Hanover to Norwich, we looked for our beloved white blazes as prospectors search for gold. As with most prospectors, we didn't always find what we were looking for ... until given directions by folks along the road.
Soon we were on Elm Street.
Glorious New England homes lined the lane ... graced with wisdom and stories that only walls could tell.
One home in particular stood out from all the others. Not because of fancy foreign cars in the driveway, manicured lawns or opulent window treatments.
This home had a simple stool out front ... with homemade cookies offered to AT thru-hikers.
A colorful sign, carefully printed and lovingly expressed said, "trail mgic." (Yes, the "a" was missing, but the artist gets an "A" for the sign anyway.)
A child was being trained in the way he or she should go. The artistry included a winding path across the top of the page and pine trees decorating the "t" in trail.
Wisely, the sheet was shielded from the elements in a plastic protector.
Hanover and Norwich are official Appalachian Trail Communities because of their devotion to the AT and their commitment to its preservation for future generations.
But in Norwich, future generations seem to be carrying their load too.
We thank you ... dear friends on Elm Street ... for your trail mgic and your love of the AT and those who need cookies to complete their journey.
Trail Magic -- an unexpected treat for hikers on the Appalachian Trail -- is one of the highlights of hiking the Trail. Thank God for Trail Angels!
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.