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