I'm putting this on the TH forum, although it doesn't relate to MY thruhike as much as someone elses...
After trail days, I came off the trail just past Old Orchard Trail, north of Grayson Highlands. The night before, at the shelter, I noted that the register was TOTALLY full...I was the last 2 lines on the last page. AH HA!!! FINALLY!! I went to my pack, to get the blank notebook I'd carried for a couple hundred miles, and I'd forgotten it! Next day, I got to my car and thought, "Yeah, it's only a mile or so up to the shelter. Take it!" But then I thought, "Hey, here's a chance!"
Now "Trail Magic" is just very good stuff that happens. Like my butterfly...the Tiger Swallowtail I see EVERY day I'm hiking is Trail Magic. So was the guy back in Georgia who was passing out Quarter Pounders (cold, but GOOD) at a road crossing. You get the idea: It has to be fun, happy, and not do bad sh-t to the trail. (A bag of oranges is NOT good...peels strung out for miles! Ugh!)
So I went to the small general store a few miles away, got this huge bag of ice and a sixpack of "pony" size beer along with my notebook. Walk up the hill for 45 minutes to the Shelter, and the ice is half melted to water. There on the ground is this lady, sweating like a pig, who says, "Do you know where the water is around this shelter?" I asked her, "Do you mean the spring, or the ice water supply?" She sort of goggled at me for a minute, and then I said, "But wouldn't you rather have a cold Millers?"
When I pulled out the beer, I thought she was gonna cry. Instead she started giggling, and - she was the only thru hiker there at the moment - and she had 2 while I drank some water. Then she swore the oath of the seven virgin gods - and I believe her - that she would (a) share the other 4 with the rest of her pod when they came in, and (b) pack out the bottles (I took the empties she had finished.)
I topped her platypus off with the ice and water, and in payment she took the pictures of the Shelter that are now in the ATPhotos.net gallery. I left the new register, which I hope to see later this year, and went back to my car to drive home.
Despite how this sounds, it is NOT a "brag". It WAS a payback, for all the TM that I had gotten, but DAMN! It felt BETTER! Yeah, I have always felt "better to give than to receive," and enjoyed that. But this was a total high!
So when you're sectioning it, and especially if there are thru hikers around, think of whether there is some kind of TM you can pass along. Doesn't have to cost anything (cold water is GREAT!), but do it. It's one of those feelings, as Hunter Thompson says, that are "BTS".
PS: If you have to ask what "BTS" stands for, you're too young to know.
"Well a promise made, is a debt unpaid, and the Trail has its own stern code." -- Robert Service