Before leaving home I had mentioned how excited Kyle and I were about running into trail magic and trail angels. My dad laughed and looked at me, exasperated. I knew what he was thinking, “Sure this trail thing is going to be great and all but now you’re talking about magic and angels! You’re going to the east coast, not Narnia!” But trail angels and trail magic are real things and we have already run into them more than once.
For those of you who don’t know, trail magic is an unexpected kindness or pleasant surprise that is often, but not always, delivered by a trail angel. Our first instance of trail magic occurred our third day on the trail. We were getting close to a road crossing that we had designated as our stopping place for the afternoon break. As it is with the trail, once you think you are about a mile away from something, whether it be a shelter, a road, a break, a stream, anything, that last mile seems to go on forever. We were winding along on our infinitely long last mile before break and I was getting a little bit hangry (hungry+angry). By day three of the trip my metabolism had already sky rocketed and I was eating us out of all our snacks. I was bemoaning the last mile and fantasizing about how good a sandwich would taste at that moment. When we finally turned the last corner our eyes lit on a very beautiful site. Bellow us in the parking lot was a trail angel with an array of chairs (this may not seem like a luxury to you but we hadn’t sat in a chair for days), coke, candy, and sandwich makings. I practically sprinted over and engulfed the trail angel in a spine splitting hug.
Since then we have met three women with a car full of goodies, including homemade biscuits with sausage inside them, no bake oatmeal cookies, bananas, and brownies, and another hiker’s parents who took us out to lunch. We have also found food left along the trail (not good LNT but delicious anyway) and had many random acts of kindness from strangers who recognize us as thru-hikers (probably due to our stank).
Not all trail magic has to derive from a trail angel though, let me give you an example. A few days ago we were planning on hiking a twelve mile day to a campsite without a shelter but after a tip off about storms that night (thanks Mom!) we decided to do an extra four miles to the nearest shelter. Now after twelve miles you might not think four miles sounds like that much, but believe me, when your feet start feeling like they’ve been caned at mile twelve, four more miles can be an eternity. We decided to make a dash for it, estimating that it would take us approximately two hours to get up to the shelter. That is why we were surprised when the shelter sign loomed up in front of us forty five minutes earlier than expected. The only explanation is a time warp. I pray for time warps daily on the trail. It isn’t the first time we’ve been through one and it won’t be the last but I’d say that’s as solid an evidence for trail magic as you’re ever going to find.