Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Trail M*A*G*I*C

**A note to Baywatch, you asked for a ride and offered gas money, not only did I give you and Alfalfa a ride up to the Pilot to take a shower, which you two did not shower, I gave you a ride back to the exact place on the trail.  You at that time did NOT give me any money nor did you offer.  I just wanted you to know that as a Trail Angel, we keep our words. I would have declined the money, however I need to point out that your word means nothing to me.  And the people you are hiking with should know this about you.  If you choose to make this right and apologize, I will take this down. Let this be a lesson that if you give someone your word, and say something, you should follow through.  People do remember! And you need to be held accountable. Hikers need to know that they can trust the words other hikers say.  This was deplorable in my opinion.  The fact that the circumstances worked out for both of us, does not give you permission to take advantage of the kindness of a Trail Angel.
The mountains of Western North Carolina are filled with mystery, mystique and awesome wonder.  The fact that I live here still is an experience of great awe and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I am truly living my dream!  I am....

I always wondered what goes on at the mountain peaks, surely nobody  lives at each mountain peak because not only are there so many but they also have no roads to get there.  I recently found out that the Appalachian Trail runs very close to me and also my mother in Pennsylvania. The fact that thousands of determined souls beat up their bodies to hike this wonderful and treacherous trail for reasons only known to themselves, and are so close to civilization and they are so close to us, yet we don't know it, is a mystery to me. How can we be so interconnected but yet disconnected at the same time?  The local library is putting on six weeks of movies about the Appalachian Trail and discussions each Thursday.  I was able to attend this weeks and learned a great deal.

I learned terms like GAME or MEGA and SOBO or NOBO.  GAME is Georgia to Maine or NOBO/north bounders,  and MEGA is Main to Georgia or SOBO/south bounders.  The people who hike the entire trail are called thru-hikers and there is such a think as slack packing where you catch a ride ahead, leave your backpack at a shelter, then hike back to see the part you skipped, then get another ride back to your gear.  I'm told you can do this up and back and see the people behind you and ahead of you.  Kind of like a time warp, I imagine.

I wanted to feel a part of this community of camaraderie and was told there are people who go to the trails and give the hikers much needed food.  As they can't carry all that much hiking 20 miles a day but need it as they burn 5000 calories a day.  The people who do this are called Trail Angels and the stop is called Trail Magic. I looked at the map and found that I could do this within less than an hour from my home, and Sams Gap is where I wanted to go, the trail literally comes by the parking lot.  No hiking for me, just go and setup the M*A*G*I*C!  My dog Mattie recently has been  having seizures and they are becoming so frequent, I felt it would be a good trip for her and I to do together.  I realized her days are literally numbered.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day so first my apology to my mother as my card for her is going to be late.  And in honor of my mother, I took a few cards up for the hikers who couldn't believe they were able to address the card and write a note to their Mom as I would send them off with a stamp when I returned home.  Its hard to keep track of days when your brain is deprived of food and energy!  So to all the Moms of the hikers I saw today...they're doing just fine and you'd be very proud of them! No room for self-pity, get up and go, make those mountains move, they are on their way to the destination of their choosing and better for the physical punishment.  No pain, no gain!

The hikers were treated with a little of our North Carolina Southern Fried Chicken, some had only heard of it, and others had been craving it!  Some of the SOBO hikers had descended 2000 feet today coming from snow, where they threw snowballs at each other to where I encountered them with 77 degree heat in the hot sun,  just a gorgeous day.  The elements can change that drastically literally in an hour, so preparation is key.  When each hiker approached the Trail Magic Station, I asked, "Are you hungry?"  Not one person said no!  I could only imagine!

Each hiker acquires a trail name, I met Storm, Corn, Squish, Bear, GOT (Game of Thrones), Small, (3 name  yet to be chosen), (some name started with a P that was like stars, can't remember sorry), Weather -or-Knot, etc.  They pick or are assigned a name based on some story.  Its kind of cool to get that knick name and have a unique identity during this journey.  At one point we had a party there were so many of them! And the dog...he kept his real name Riley.  Oh and the man with the kilt and his hiking partner, I'm sorry I didn't catch the names (from Wilmington NC), that was just cool.  How many people have YOU ever seen hiking in a Kilt?

I will continue to do this, as the hikers are good-hearted people.  Everyone tries to help each other as long as there is no detriment to themselves.  It truly is its own community. They will some day pay it forward I'm sure knowing what it meant to them to be "right on time" for them.  I truly want to do this some day but know I'll have to have new knees, after refereeing NCAA for ten  years, and four knee surgeries, the only way I could do it is with the knee replacements.  I'm hoping that I can do this with my granddaughter when I retire.  Lawd knows my son's don't have the mental determination to do this.  I may be wrong....but most likely I'm right on that one.  I was surprised today at the ratio of men to women, more men than women do this I see.

Trail Magic Day 2 photos:  Carry On (my wayward sun, there'll be peace when you are done), Hazel, and ThreeQuarter (75 year old thru hiker)

Carry On  is on his own journey to peace.  Hazel didn't tell me but I found out later, she was hiking in honor of her daughter who committed suicide.  My 27 year old nephew just did the same, father of three very young kids. They tell us to look in the mirror and continually repeat, "Its not your fault."   Notice the baby shoes on her backpack.  There'll be peace we hope when you finish the hike as well Hazel.  And it was a first for me to help come up with a name, since Dan was 75, and hadn't picked a name yet, we named him Three Quarter for 3/4 of a century.  I hope I can do this some day!  And Realm 4, I don't know how I forgot to take your photo!  I apologize.   I guess I was just so fascinated with your story. 

Hazel's daughters baby shoes
Carry On and Hazel
Carry On
Dissident and parents
Hostel in Hot Springs

Three Quarter

 The best part for me was the gratitude.  EVERY SINGLE hiker thanked me. The right thing to do to get people to do more of the behavior you want to see, is to thank them.  To each and everyone of you that crossed paths with me today, I want to say thank YOU for the stories, I was reminded of how important we are to each other.  Not only on the trail, or in communities, but in life.  The paths we cross all have a message, its ours to listen for it.  I BELIEVE you were meant to be at Sams Gap today.  I BELIEVE in YOU! Keep up the good work!

*** 2017 April/May  went to the Indiantown Gap to do Trail Magic and met Hawk, Broose and Homer (whom I renamed Brooser and Weekender, you can't use your real name!!!, Sam and his brother, then when driving back from PA stopped at Sams Gap to see the TWELTH Annual Trail May 1 Magic. There was a bad storm going through so the hikers were hiding up under the underpass! Thanks for you May 1 Trail Angels that meant the world to them I'm sure!!

Mox in NC Sams Gap, from PA! going NOBO

Indiantown Gap, just missed three people from Europe!!

Weekender and Brooser

Hawk 24th NOBO 2017, left Feb 12 from GA, hauling ass!  Enjoying a beer with his trail angel!

Sams Gap annual May 1 Trail Magic

Moonshine and Chipmunk

Hiding from the brutal wind up under the underpass
J and Pitstop
Dorie and ?? (I forgot!) SOBO flip floppin'

BJ and Redbeard

UK (I forgot!) Old English, and Dance Hiker


BJ and my neighbor from NC, who knew we'd meet in PA!  Nemophilist

CA (I forgot!) and Frog, I think he should be Frog Puffer as he smokes!

Oh Well