When you can't be hiking the trail,
the next best thing is to help out those who are.
This help is known as Trail Magic and can be anything like offering a ride into town, leaving food or snacks or drinks along the trail, offering a hot shower or offering a BBQ.
I've been wanting to offer Trail Magic for 2 years now and we finally set the plan in motion.
This past Saturday, we headed out to Pen Mar Park near the MD/PA line.
The AT runs right through the park,
and the park offers picnic tables and bathrooms
so it was the perfect place to set up.
We took along our gas grill and had hamburgers and hotdogs,
sodas, watermelon slices, clementines and bananas,
chips and "goody bags" of gummi bears, starburst and lifesavers to take along.
We also brought along two water containers for anyone needing to refill water bottles
without needing to filter it.
This was our first customer who traveled from Hawaii to hike the trail.
He was one of 3 Eagle Scouts we met that day.
He shared photos from his travels and told us of his favorite places so far.
My 10 year old son really enjoyed listening to him,
and it sparked his desire to start backpacking too.
It didn't take long to gather a small crowd.
This couple was from Germany and came just to hike the AT.
Tortoise is on the left, Autobahn on the right.
She really loves watermelon and ate quite a few slices.
He had several hamburgers and hot dogs and discovered relish.
I will never eat a watermelon or use relish without thinking of these two!
My husband ended up giving them a ride into town to the Walmart along
with another guy and on the way they stopped for another hiker trying to hitchhike into town.
Turned out it was the first hiker we had fed that day.
On his way back, he took another hiker back to the trail.
Later that day we learned that Tortoise and Autobahn had run out of food
and only had candy to eat for breakfast.
So we were at the right place at the right time for them-
for the food and the resupply trip.
We had lots of happy hikers
Some were just starting their Flip Flop,
some thru hiking from Georgia and
some just doing section hikes.
This is Mr. Clean and my son loved talking to him about history.
Mr. Clean is a retired history teacher
who is headed to the Ukraine with the Peace Corps.
As a retired teacher he would probably be pleased to know
that my son started looking up information about the Ukraine
to learn about the area and where it was.
Trouble is standing wearing the red shirt.
He's on thru hike 4 and 5 as he's doing (another) Yo-Yo
meaning he hikes Georgia to Maine then turns around and hikes Maine to Georgia.
He gave my 10 year old the idea about working while hiking,
and now my son plans to do nothing but hike the AT and work at REI's along the way.
Two of the 3 men sitting at the picnic table ended up getting a ride down the road
to their car.
They had finished a section hike and had some painful blisters.
Their companion ended up hiking to the car.
Turns out that they live not too far from us in Carlisle, PA
which is also near part of the AT.
They've done their own Trail Magic.
In the end, I can say this was an absolutely fantastic day and experience.
We met great people, and more importantly,
we learned why it's truly better to give than receive.
I have never done anything for someone that was appreciated the way
these people appreciated what we gave them.
I left feeling really really good.
And now my son is planning his thru hike in 8 years (when he graduates).
Thinking about offering some Trail Magic?
It's as magical for you as it is for those you're giving it to.