Yesterday --- Appalachian Trail "Magic" or Trail Angel.

The hiking club I belong to has been offering Trail Magic ( giving out supplies/food/drinks, charging cell phone batteries) to through hikers on the trail. This is a practice that happens all alone the trail in the states covered by the trail. This is our club's 10th year of providing service to hikers.

Appalachian Trail through hikers usually begin their trek in Georgia during March or April. They will continue their hike through summer and reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine during September or October. 

Yesterday, I volunteered at a site in Belvedere. We gave candy, beer, soda, hamburgers, hot dogs (veggie and meat) orange juice, peaches, oranges, water and a place to sit down for a few minutes. We treated 17 hikers during a 6 hour period and listened to their stories.

Our "guests" were from Ohio, Texas, both Carolinas, West Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Several were solo hikers and some had partners. Those with partners had partner injuries and they turned off the trail and went home. Blisters and leg cramps were common. The socks with toes help prevent blisters - but not always.m One woman said she has lost 40 pounds so far. She had her husband mail new, smaller clothes. 

Supplies are sent to post offices (General Post Office) at towns the hikers will arrive at. Hostels will also receive packages for a fee of usually $5.00.

"Pennsylvania sucks." I know we already know that but their complaint is about the rocks on the trail through that state. Six of our hikers had their shoes come apart on the Pa. rocks. Several mentioned their surprise that N.J. is scenic and not the rat hole butt of late nite comic jokes. They enter N.J. at the Water Gap and leave at High Point. 

They get their "trail names" within one or two days on the trail. There are usually gatherings of hikers at evening time at lean-to or hostels along the trail. There, they do something or say something that earns attention and somebody gives them a name and they carry it with them along the trail. Acquaintances are fleeting on the trails. You meet somebody, agree to walk along with them for one, two or several days and then one or the other gets tired, injured or wants to go faster. So they separate. Sometimes they will encounter each other a week or two later.

One guy got his trail name... something to do with rattle snakes. Seems he catches them, kills and eats 'em. He offered to share at the lean-to site but nobody wanted to partake. His target is/was Eastern Diamondback. N.J.'s rattlers are Timber Rattle snakes and are endangered.

The most unusual hiker that our club encountered was at last year's "magic." She was 83 years old and made it from Georgia to N.J., carrying about 50 pounds of gear. Her only difficulty was when she fell and couldn't get up by herself. She was finally helped by another hiker who was passing through. We don't know if she made it to Maine.... as is the case with all the hikers we meet. 

I hope to participate next year.


Participate in the hike, or to be an angel again???

I’m hoping the latter…


You have to read Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" if you're into this.  


Thank you, FJJ.  Fascinating account.  It's great to know that these hikers are being supported.  I wonder what it was like for those out there last night during that majestic thunder storm.  


Thanks for the peek into a world I would never have encountered!


Scully said:

Participate in the hike, or to be an angel again???

I’m hoping the latter…

 Angel, again. I am too old, crotchety and cranky to go on a through hike. 


Elle_Cee said:

Thank you, FJJ.  Fascinating account.  It's great to know that these hikers are being supported.  I wonder what it was like for those out there last night during that majestic thunder storm.  

 Some are definitely soaked. Some of the tents cannot repel water. Lucky ones saw what was coming and spent the time in one of the trail's lean-to. 

Others are now off trail and into a town. They look for a laundramat. If none is available, they look for a motel and either pay to use the wash facilities. 

One woman yesterday, described drying her soaked equipment. She rented a motel room for a night and used the washer equipment. The rest of her stuff was spread out over the motel room to dry overnight.


Every hiker had cell phones with them. Cell phone service is spotty along the trail but those with signals would pass word of problems and opportunities to those they encountered on the trail.

Weather apps would give 10 day forecasts in paces where the hiker would likely be. Also Trail Angel locations would be passed on to hikers so they would know to hurry to a place for supper before the distributors left for the day.

Trail washouts or places with mud, bear sightings and so forth would also be passed on by cell phone and word of mouth.


UPDATE: Reports were collected from the 7 days of Trail Magic. 

Oldest hiker we encountered is 82.

Youngest is 5.  His father had to get special permission for him to climb Mt. Katahdin.  There is a minimum age of 8 to climb the mountain. Since he will have crossed the entire Appalachian Trail, he has been given a pass.




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