View Full Version : Trail Magic

09-05-2002, 09:24
If you have backpacked at all you have experienced it to one degree or another. It's that inexplicable bit of kindness extended to you, oftentimes when you need it most, and becomes such a memorable part of your remembrances of the hike. Its almost as though we send out some undetected signal when the "magic" is really, really needed and, behold, along it comes, in some fashion or another. I think it would be interesting to read what Trail Magic others have experienced.

02-03-2003, 13:26
While finishing my thru-hike this past year in Vermont, I ran into a pilot from Airborne who was hiking with his two younger sons. We were both heading in the same direction toward manchester VT and after he grilled us on how we got into towns (thumb up) he insisted that we take his car which was parked at the trailhead near Manchester. We of course tried to decline this kind gesture but he wouldn't quit and we ended up with his car for about 5 hours. We got all of our hiker chores done in record time! We dropped the car off later that day with a full tank of gas, 6 pack of Long Trail Ale, and two gift certificates to Friendly's for his kids. Everybody wins and that's what trail magic is all about!

04-30-2003, 13:16
I’m curious if any one here has ever declined an offer of kindness? I do a lot of my hiking in the White Mountains of NH and occasionally I will run across a thru-hiker on the AT. In the past I have just given them a pleasant greeting and went on my way. However, since I have a place about 20 minutes south of the AT, I’ve often wondered whether or not they would accept an offer to spend the night in a real bed, take a shower, and do laundry? I’ve always been hesitant to ask since they might take the offer the wrong way. Should I make the offer or not?

Blue Jay
04-30-2003, 14:32
MadRiver that is a very good question. I am in the same position and I usually just offer a shuttle and ask if they have any garbage they want to get rid of. As a hiker I have often taken an offer of a stay at a strangers home. I do feel uncomfortable offering the same thing to other hikers. Our culture makes some people scared.

04-30-2003, 15:38
I just read the posts under “Trail Angle Wannabees” in the “Thru-hiker specific topics” section. It was an interesting read. Apparently some people take exception to trail angels interfering with their “Wilderness” experience. Other, however, welcome the assistance that trail angels bring. I guess I will just have to play it by ear on whether or not to offer assistance to thru-hikers.

04-30-2003, 16:22
Dont offer if you feel uncomfortable about it. If you truly would enjoy helping them out and are willing to take the risk, it doesn't hurt to ask. If they feel you would be ruining their hike all they need to do is politely say no. There are certainly times I would have loved to have a cheap or free place to stay for a night. And there were other times I would have politely declined - in fact we did. In boiling springs we opted out of a free stay with a guy and regretted it. We heard from others that he treated them very well and fed them too. Much better than the ATC's "midnight train" campground at the edge of town where we ended up staying at.

05-01-2003, 08:28
We only declined trail magic once, we were in town in Damascus and this wonderful young couple offered to take us out of town for Chinese and to a movie. (We later found out it was the owner of the Old mill Restaurnat) We would have jumped at the chance if we hadn't just got into town and were trying to find fellow hikers, etc. Otherwise, trail magic was always a suprise, and always greatly appreciated. I find it comical that people complain about it ruining their "trail experience"..even some of the ultra-crunchy, "out-there-to-be-in-touch-with-nature,-man" types that we hiked with would still partake of an icy-cold root beer if we came across them in a stream. :D

Jack Tarlin
05-03-2003, 14:23
This whole issue is overblown to the point of being ridiculous. Grilling burgers or handing out sodas at a Trailhead, or more likely, at a parking lot is not going to affect anyone's "Wilderness experience" or negatively impact their trip.

"Trail magic" is simply the unexpected kindness of strangers. Nearly everyone is happy to find it, and it's one of the great joys of a thru-hike. However, if you're not interested, simply smile at these folks, tell them "No, thank you" and keep hiking. It's that simple. But for folks to get all bent outta shape over trail magic and trail angels is petty, childish, and mean spirited. There are more important things to worry about.

07-10-2003, 11:23
In the three years I have been doing trail magic I was turned down by hikers for a free meal once just three weeks ago. They said they were going to the PUB (Duncannon), have a few beers and hike out. Next time I get that response, I will cook the food anyway. They had so much fun at the PUB they stayed the night at the Doyle Hotel and hiked out the next day. I should have known. Hikers find it hard to leave Duncannon once they enter any of the drinking establishments!

Lone Wolf
02-01-2008, 12:22
I’m curious if any one here has ever declined an offer of kindness?

yes, especially if religion is involved

02-01-2008, 12:25
yes, especially if religion is involved
Excellent point.