View Full Version : The Fun Of Trail Magic

The Weasel
09-04-2002, 14:07
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".

The Weasel

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

Hammock Hanger
09-04-2002, 17:51
I encountered way too many wonders of trail magic to even begin to describe. Mostly it was a cooler place at a trailhead with some cold drinks and maybe a snack or two. Then there were cold sodas floating in a babbling brook. Sitting in you campsite after a long day and having a past thru-hiker jog up 3.5 miles from the road you crossed to offer you an ice cold beer. Best yet was the family that gave me a hitch to a hostel, that turned out to be closed. Instead of returning me to the trail they brought me home, gave me dinner, a place to sleep and shower, a huge breakfast and a return trip to the trail. How gret is that!! :p HH

09-05-2002, 07:08
I enjoyed my share of trail magic. But truely, some of the best trail magic I think is simply a jug of fresh water at a road crossing so I can refill without treating. All trail magic takes some effort to maintain, and can get expensive for the trail angel. However, water just takes a little effort, and is truely appreciated when it's hot, humid, and the water sources are low and far between.

Hammock Hanger
09-05-2002, 09:34
There were 2 spots in PA this summer that were very dry and believe me seeing jugs of good plain drinking water on the side of the road was such a blessing. HH

The Hog
09-26-2002, 11:54
Me and several of my hiking buddies had the extreme good fortune to meet the famous author Eric Sloane ("A Reverence For Wood," etc.)in CT. After talking with him for awhile, he finally says, "Will you do me a favor?" One of my buddies replied, "What kind of favor?" Mr. Sloane responded, "No, first tell me if you'll do me a favor." I piped up, "Sure, whatever, you name it."
He pulls this large bill out of his wallet and hands it to us. "Buy yourselves a drink along the way."
Now, whenever my travels take me through Gorham, NH, I try to spot a thru hiker, ask him/her about the trek, and then do exactly what Eric Sloane would do.:D

Trail Yeti
10-01-2002, 16:05
AHHHHH, Trail Magic...a wonderful thing. I don't even know how many times my spirit was lifted by the site of a cooler filled w/soda or beer w/ a register on top. I experienced everything from a full fledged cookout, to a guy going to the store to buy us hot dogs, cookies and chips(and meeting us 2 miles farther along so we didn't have to wait), to water jugs, to fruit drinks...
all I have to say is TRAIL MAGIC IS WONDERFUL! and I appreciate every bit of it I got. Gonna try to find a few sobos to "magic" when they get down my way....and am definately getting some nobos next year.
so if you gave trail magic this year and I got it....THANKS!!!!
Life is Good, Wear a Kilt!

10-01-2002, 17:05
Trail magic is nice (wonderful), and much appreciated. However, just a reminder to all of us that we have a tremendous obligation to give back to the trail. It exists because of the efforts of thousands of volunteers. So, support your local hiking club, and help maintain a section of trail or shelter.

Hammock Hanger
10-01-2002, 18:04
Always support the projects you love! HH

Trail Yeti
10-01-2002, 18:15
I definately agree with you. I did some maintenance when I was on the trail...I even went back to TN after trail days to do some w/Bob at Kincora. It was great fun and a fantastic thing to do.
So future thruhikers...do some maintenance when you stay at Kincora!!!

10-02-2002, 00:09
Yeti - I remember you helping with Clyde Smith Shelter but guess it was too cold for the kilt. Congrats on the completion!

Trail Yeti
10-02-2002, 10:39
hey lugnut, I remember you too. It wasn't too cold for the kilt (slthough it was really cold)...I just didn't want to mess up my kilt...so I wore those old nasty cammie shorts..
its never too cold for the kilt! (well, almost never):D :p ;)

The Hog
10-08-2002, 05:55
A friend and I were finishing dinner at the Moxie Bald Pond LT (this was just last week) and we talked about what kind of beer we were dying to have, all to no avail, since we were 16 miles from Monson, Maine. Then, out of nowhere, a guy named Butch kayaks up to the shore, comes and shoots the breeze for awhile, then says, "Would you guys like a couple of beers?" Jim and I just look at each other while Butch goes back to the kayak and brings us two beers each.

10-20-2002, 15:25
I followed most all of the 2002 NOBO crew, that were on Trailjournals.Com. I was very envious. In late August I went up past Sugarloaf Mt., in Maine, three and a half hours from my house, on a Friday, to do some trail magic.I was also trying to see if I could run into Bluevist, who I had been following since the middle of January. Now that's an early start. I figured this lady was something else. I set up, on a dirt road, about a mile north of where the AT crosses ME Rt. 27, coming out of Stratton, Me. I had 10 or a dozen thru hikers that day. I gave one nice girl my hiking poles, because all she had was a couple of wooden sticks. She said she was doing a low budget hike. It made me feel great. I can always get another pair of hiking poles. I had water, soda, stuff to make sandwiches, bananas and candy bars (Snickers).

I didn't see Bluevist, but was told by many, that she was in Startton. I decided to go home, 3 1/2 hours, and get up real early in the morning,and set up TM camp again. I got to the AT on Me Rt. 27 this time, Saturday morning at 0615. I missed Bluevist by 15 minutes. She was an early riser. I satyed all Saturday, again fully stocked, and having 8-10 thru hikers. I really enjoyed myself, and the surprise and thankfullness of the AT hikers.

I did about 50 miles of the AT in Maine this year. I'm trying to work up courage to do a month section hike, next March, from Springer north??? I know I'll do more sections in New England, because it's where I live. I'll also do a lot more TM, because it's fun, and I like the smiles it brings. :D :D

10-27-2002, 11:42
I paid for a servicman's breakfast at Denny's last week. Never spoke to the guy, just gave the waitress more than enough to cover his Slam the tip before I left.

I'm going to leave the thru hikers alone.

Tio Neon

SGT Rock
10-27-2002, 11:50
Servicemen appreciate it too. We just don't have a forum.

Thank you.

12-09-2002, 20:48
I was talking to a group of tourists on top on Clingman's Dome in the Smokies about my hike while cooking up some Raman. One person asked me "What do you want right now that the trail can't offer you?" My reply, as I looked down into my pot of Raman, "A couple of cheeseburgers."

Another person, who was walking by at the time of my answer, stopped and offered a ride into Gatlinburg. He took me to McDonald's and bought my food for me (1 Big Mac value meal(super sized of course), 2 cheeseburgers, and 6 more cheeseburgers to bring back for friends on the trail).

He gave me a ride back to the trail, but it was too late to continue. So I got a ride back to Gatlinburg from 4 women who hike annually in the Smokies and wanted to know more about my hike. They brought me to the Grand Prix Motel, where I was able to stay with another thru hiker who said that the room was already paid for and I didn't have to chip in for the cost. Thanks Redbeard!

The next day, I was able to get bread (from Panara Bread), fudge, and a WHOLE large pizza from the brewery for free.

Never new that my longing for cheeseburger would #1- take me to McDonalds (I don't eat there) and #2 - be one of my favorite memories because of the people I met.

BTW- I ended up giving the 6 extra cheeseburgers to another hiker at the motel.

Trail Dog
12-10-2002, 17:48
hey i just realized what trail angel meant.

i never thru hiked or did more than 4 or 5 nights on the trails in NY and NJ but one time on an over night with a girl who never went out into the woods much i came accross a thru hiker with a dog. Now i admit i had way to much ***** namely the large 4 man tent and pots and pans, the girl wasnt all that interested in roughing it and the car was only parked down by South Mountian pass road, what a whole half mile away(talk about hiking)? for crist sakes we left our clothing in the car but took all the food.

Now i had the intention of doing a few days but she didnt like the idea of another night in the woods( and her blisters didnt want to be walked on any more, her boots were too big) so we started to pack up when the guy and dog came out off the trail(South Bounder). He offered to help take some of our crap to our car, we must have looked rediculous with a 4 man tent, teflon pans and spleeping bags half rolled up!!!

We talked a bit and he mentioned problems finding water To his pleasant suprise i had two 2.5 gallon jugs of bottled water. To top it off i had two wedges of cheese, a hardly nibbled on 6 inch hard salami(no jokes about nibbling on a 6 inch salami!!), and half a loaf of bread. He called me a trail angel and i though about punching a guy for calling me and angel but decided against it.

so now i know what it meant, and i feel better knowing it did someone good. So if anyone is up near Manitou, garrison or peekskill in NY and you see some over packed local with army pants on, its me and i got lots of water and cheese in my car(just dont break in to get it).

maybe on my thru hike i'll see some magic of my own.


12-16-2002, 22:32
Unless I am still over here in NZ...I look forward to seeing some of you at the Stranger P. Stranger AT BBQ, will probably set up at Tiorati Circle in Harriman NY sometime around July 1st.

12-16-2002, 23:58
Dip**** Stranger again...Hey Trail Dog I grew up in Rockland County NY and have lived across the river in Jersey for the last few years. Good to see some NYC folk on here...I miss home.

12-20-2002, 11:26
Trail magic was an ausome cook like Baltimore Jack making meatless
omelletes(hobo gathering) and lasagna(miss Janet's) for Raging Bloodthirsty vegetarian's like myself. Thanx Jack!

Lone Wolf
01-31-2008, 17:56
i've never seen trail magic performed :-? does copperfield hike?

Johnny Thunder
01-31-2008, 18:19
It's not magic, Michael...

Johnny Thunder
01-31-2008, 18:26
It's not magic, Michael...

It's an illusion.

01-31-2008, 19:53
I dunno if other hikers consider it trail magic when I throw a little picnic near the trail and invite them to join me for some beer and hot-dogs. I never thought of it that way, I just like meeting and partying with hikers and I know where to find em. So far I've never met one that wasn't at least a little bit hungry. I've met a few that way who are now very close friends, so yeah...I guess it is magic.

01-31-2008, 20:59
Does it count as 'trail magic' when you give a 20 something brand new hiker in clean clothing with spanking new gear a 20 ounce bottle of water, when he left HIS bottle at Matts Creek Shelter 30 minutes after starting his south bound section? He was so grateful. And, Nessmuk wonders why I carry so much water slackpacking and section hiking...

(At first I thought he couldn't possibly survive SOBO or ANYWHERE bound, but then realized I have done stupid things in my life, too.)

You all have given me good ideas for Punchbowl, John's Hollow, Matt's Creek, Apple Orchard Mt., Bryant's Ridge and Cornelius Creek Shelters!


Gray Blazer
01-31-2008, 21:18
WOW!! This validates what I was telling Always Hiking in her recent TM thread. All positive comments about TM back in 2002. Is TM back in good graces now on WB or is it a mortal sin??:-?