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  1. #1
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    Default Too Much Trail Magic

    I was amazed to read the amount of trail magic this year. One hiker described 5 acts of trail magic in his first 5 days. It's not only at road crossings but seems to be at every shelter in Georgia. Years ago I used to be one of the few people to give out food on a weekday in March. Now I feel I may be ruining the experience. I think I may have joined the "you should provide for yourself and skip trail magic" group. Never thought that would happen

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    that's not trail magic. they're just feeds. hikers have food in their packs. they don't need to be fed. especially down south

  3. #3
    Registered User rambunny's Avatar
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    It leads to entitlement issues later.

  4. #4

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    Appalachian Trail, Gerogia to Maine:
    A Footpath for Those who seek Fellowship with the Wilderness.




    Yeah right, my ass. It's a footpath for those that seek social interactions in the woods with cattle-like feeds.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    Appalachian Trail, Gerogia to Maine:
    A Footpath for Those who seek Fellowship with the Wilderness.




    Yeah right, my ass. It's a footpath for those that seek social interactions in the woods with cattle-like feeds.
    ...and frat-like parties

  6. #6
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    that's not trail magic. they're just feeds. hikers have food in their packs. they don't need to be fed. especially down south
    I thought feeding the wildlife was against LNT anyway? But yeah, people who have the coin to take a 6 month vacation don't need free food.

    Quote Originally Posted by rambunny View Post
    It leads to entitlement issues later.
    Us frugal (cheap) New Englanders know better - we even charge 'em for campsites when we can. And people call us liberal. Hah!

    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    Appalachian Trail, Gerogia to Maine:
    A Footpath for Those who seek Fellowship with the Wilderness.
    Yeah right, my ass. It's a footpath for those that seek social interactions in the woods with cattle-like feeds.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    ...and frat-like parties
    It definitely wasn't like this years ago. I haven't been to the southern Appalachians in thru-hiker season since April 1979. That year I met other hikers, but there were no hordes and it wasn't a traveling frat party atmosphere. "Trail magic" was perhaps an unexpected ride into town, lodging (with a shower and laundry!) in someone's home or even yard, some extra food from section hikers, and maybe a cold drink. But it was low key and definitely not a daily thing. I always kind of revered Ed Garvey and a few others, but I also think by popularizing the idea of thru-hiking they may have done the trail a disservice in that sense.

    From all the stories about what has become of thru-hiking and the annual Springer Fever party and the enablers on the sidelines, I'm thinking that SOBO and "alternative itineraries" like flops are probably better for both the trail and from a "wilderness experience" standpoint.

    Oh well, kind of sad.

  7. #7
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to my BMT thru in a few weeks. It's supposed to have a completely different vibe than the AT.

  8. #8
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I was amazed to read the amount of trail magic this year. One hiker described 5 acts of trail magic in his first 5 days. It's not only at road crossings but seems to be at every shelter in Georgia. Years ago I used to be one of the few people to give out food on a weekday in March. Now I feel I may be ruining the experience. I think I may have joined the "you should provide for yourself and skip trail magic" group. Never thought that would happen
    I never experienced a "hiker feed". I left a fair amount earlier than most thrus (mid- feb), so I was ahead of most of the trail magic. The trail magic I experienced was mostly from individual people, some day hiker who'd brought ice cold drinks in his pack, coke sitting under a bridge, more cold coolers of drinks along the trail... I came across a fair amount of coolers. I ran into the tail end end of one feed, and got oatmeal cookies...

    So Glenn, you wouldn't have ruined the experience for me!
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
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  9. #9

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    I agree that's not trail magic. Trail magic is when the other person involved does not know that what they are doing is trail magic. It sometimes does not involve another person. It's an act of serendipity on the trail when what you needed appears just when you needed it most.

    These food events and coolers on the trail aren't trail magic unless you stumble into one completely unaware just when you were worrying that you might run out of food or water or were feeling totally lonely. (It sounds like there is little opportunity on the AT to know what any of that feels like. Too bad.)
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  10. #10
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    I agree that's not trail magic. Trail magic is when the other person involved does not know that what they are doing is trail magic. It sometimes does not involve another person. It's an act of serendipity on the trail when what you needed appears just when you needed it most.

    These food events and coolers on the trail aren't trail magic unless you stumble into one completely unaware just when you were worrying that you might run out of food or water or were feeling totally lonely. (It sounds like there is little opportunity on the AT to know what any of that feels like. Too bad.)
    I've been saying the same thing for years. So many people say they do hiker feeds to 'give back to the trail'. Do some trail maintenance or donate to the ATC if you want to give back. There is absolutely nothing magic about a hiker feed.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  11. #11

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    This is why I avoid shelters everywhere on the trail if I can and stealth camp, and I also hurry through road crossings and populated areas.

    Anyone else in here never received trail magic? I have always refused to accept trail magic of any kind (I do not consider hitching trail magic).

    Maybe if the hikers weren't so willing to take everything someone else gave them, less people would be out giving feeds and whatnot. It just speaks to the laziness of today's society, and that laziness is coming out on the trail. These hikers need to learn the words "No, Thanks".

  12. #12
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10-K View Post
    I'm looking forward to my BMT thru in a few weeks. It's supposed to have a completely different vibe than the AT.
    In section hiking the BMT, I never ran into another backpacker outside the Smokies. It's a different feel from any other long trail I've hiked.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  13. #13
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redeye View Post
    Anyone else in here never received trail magic? I have always refused to accept trail magic of any kind (I do not consider hitching trail magic).

    Maybe if the hikers weren't so willing to take everything someone else gave them, less people would be out giving feeds and whatnot. It just speaks to the laziness of today's society, and that laziness is coming out on the trail. These hikers need to learn the words "No, Thanks".
    I understand what all y'all are saying, about true trail magic v. coolers and people set up with grills. I've experienced plenty of "true trail magic", like being completely out of water and suddenly stumbling upon a cool creek I didn't expect, or a beautiful place to sit for lunch, etc... But I don't really understand why so many people are so against accepting kindness from strangers. Someone brings a cooler of ice cold soda out to the trail because they just want to brighten someone's day, maybe return the favor that they experienced on the trail. Why can't you just enjoy it? If you really don't want to be part of it, fine. But you don't have to say that trail magic is ruining the trail or means laziness.
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  14. #14
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    (I understand the magic of an empty trail with no one from the "outside", how a more isolated experience is different. But the AT is different now- if you want to be really left alone, the CDT might be a better bet.)
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShelterLeopard View Post
    Someone brings a cooler of ice cold soda out to the trail because they just want to brighten someone's day, maybe return the favor that they experienced on the trail.
    More likely they are lonely and miss the trail. They need to be hiking instead.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  16. #16
    Registered User johnnyblisters's Avatar
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    Bunch of bitter ninnies on this site. Who cares if people are giving away free food, sounds f-ing great to my wallet! Boo hoo, the AT ain't what it used to be, get used to it.
    -milkman

    got soul?

  17. #17
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    My thoughts too Johnny- bring on the burgers!
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
    Various adventures in Siberia 2016
    Adventures past and present!
    (and maybe 2018 PCT NoBo)

  18. #18
    Registered User SmokeEater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyblisters View Post
    Bunch of bitter ninnies on this site. Who cares if people are giving away free food, sounds f-ing great to my wallet! Boo hoo, the AT ain't what it used to be, get used to it.
    Remember its hike you're own hike as long as its "Thier" hike.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    ...and frat-like parties
    Here's a post from March 18, 2011

    "We ended up having a very fun night last night at the Low Gap Shelter. Some previous thru hikers packed in around 300 beers as well as about 150 hot dogs."

    I guess they are taking it off the road and to the shelters now.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  20. #20
    Registered User Doctari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    that's not trail magic. they're just feeds. hikers have food in their packs. they don't need to be fed. especially down south
    I agree.
    To my mind "Group feeds" are Trail CHARITY, not trail magic.
    Trail Magic on the other hand is, at least to me: offering a tired camper your left over hot water so he/she can have dinner a bit faster. The tourist who tosses a hiker a apple & says "Have a nice hike". The local who gives a group of smelly hikers a ride into town on a rainy day just because he was goin that way. THAT is magic! 2 weeks of planing is nice, and I'm sure further from the starting point they are very well appreciated, but that isn't magic. I for one will not turn down Trail Charity, but it doesn't give the same warm feeling as the spontaneous acts of kindness that is "Real" trail magic.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

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