Angels and Magic in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine
As I headed into the northernmost states, I assumed trail magic would dry up. It was the end of the hiking season, after all. I thought, who would be out doing trail magic in August and September?
An unexpected bit of magic came from a hiker in Vermont. We ran into each other at the Catamount Motel in Bennington. Grandpa Mike was from New Orleans and he was doing sections of the AT. We sat outside of the motel and he asked question after question about the trail. As a way of thanking me for spending so much time talking about the trail, he gave me a chocolate pie—a Hubig’s New Orleans Style Pie that he had brought with him.
I told him it wasn’t necessary to pay me with a pie—I’ll talk trail for free anytime! But he insisted and suggested I just barely warm it up in the microwave. I took his advice and, wow, what a treat! Thanks again, Grandpa Mike!
Sometimes, it’s the little things
About two miles from Griffith Lake tenting area, King Richard, Tigger and Jess came up from behind and asked if I wanted trail magic.
Like, anyone has to ask.
Somebody had left a bag of Halloween candy like lollipops, mini candy bars, sweet tarts and peanut butter cups at a trail head. A park ranger was going to toss it because you’re not supposed to leave that stuff around as it attracts wildlife. But the three said, “No, no, we’ll take it. We’ll hand it out to hikers on the trail.” That’s what they did! So, I got a Blow Pop and a couple of small candy bars which gave me that extra boost of sugar when I needed it most.
While at Griffith Lake, I dug through my pack three times looking for my spork. Realizing I must have lost it either back in Bennington or somewhere on the trail, I checked with others tenting in the area to see if anyone had an extra spork that I could buy.
One dude, a section hiker, said he had a spoon I could have. I thanked him profusely and offered to pay him for it, but he said no way! It was a Dollar Tree buy and he didn’t need it as he was heading home the next day.
It was HUGE. I wish I had taken a photo.
I used that giant serving spoon for a week before I finally found my trusty spork at the bottom of my pack. The spoon found a new home at a hostel.
There is a lot of disagreement among the hiking community regarding painted rocks. Some see them as a blatant disregard of the Leave No Trace principles. Others see them as something fun, a little gift in the woods. I understand both sides.
I was having a rough day when when I found a painted rock on trail. Rather than become angry that someone “littered,” I chose to see the painting of a hiker on trail as a gift. It added weight to my pack but I carried it with me until I arrived in Rutland and was able to mail it home.
After spending most of my day slogging through Vermont’s muddy trails, I stopped at a trail crossing kiosk near Woodstock. I took a few minutes to check out the kiosk’s artwork and essays written about the trail by local school kids. As I walked around, I noticed a trail log box.
Heck, I’ll sign the trail log, I thought.
As I opened the box, a bag of goodies fell out. Trail magic in the form of ramen, rice krispy treats and tuna snack packs was left anonymously, along with notes apologizing for the rain.
Again, a big thank you to my “friends in Quechee” (which is what one of the notes said).
The first trail magic came right out of the gate in Hanover. Lou’s Restaurant offers a free donut to any thru-hiker who stops by their shop, which happens to be right on the trail. I got my free donut and ordered a lemonade to go. Ten minutes later, I went back and bought a second donut because…well, hiker hunger and they were just that good!
Another sugar rush
Fast forward to Hiker’s Welcome Hostel where Sunshine bought a chocolate pie and shared it with everyone while we watched a movie.
Sunshine brought a little magic to the Hikers Welcome Hostel.
White Mountains blueberries
Okay, they aren’t the mammoth blueberries that come from the farm-cultivated blueberry bushes, but they sure are a treat on trail. Sometimes trail magic comes from nature itself.
VonTrapp Family singers
Okay, okay, they were actually the Webster family—a dad and his four kids who were section hiking. I had had a rough few days of rain and wind in the White Mountains. When I arrived at Ethan Pond, the sun finally came out and I was able to dry my clothes, my gear and myself.
That evening at Ethan Pond, the sounds of the Webster family’s four-part harmonies drifted through the tent site. They sang a wide variety of tunes from folk music to gospel. Lying on my tent platform, I soaked up the evening sunshine and the music.
The next morning as I packed up my tent, the family walked by. I took a photo and asked if I could use it in my blog about trail angels as their music was definitely magic for me. The dad asked about my blog and when I might be publishing their photo…I told him probably at least four weeks. Three months later, I’m finally writing about them. (My apologies for the delay, sir. I hope you and your kids had an awesome section hike!)
The Webster family heads back out to the trail.
Mt. Washington treats
I met Bluebird in Hot Springs, NC, and hadn’t seen her again until Garfield Shelter in the White Mountains. We leap-frogged each other over the next few days and wound up on top of Mt. Washington on the same day. Her husband was also there and brought along some trail magic for other thru-hikers. I happily accepted his offer of a Coke, a bag of chips and an apple.
Thanks again, Mr. Bluebird!
Just 48 miles into Maine lies a spectacular view called Height of Land on the edge of the town of Oquossoc. As I climbed up the hillside and emerged at Height of Land, I saw a face I hadn’t seen since Irwin, Tennessee.
There she was—Miss Janet, trail angel extraordinaire, in her most awesome van. The van is emblazoned with photos she has taken of her favorite spots on the trail.
Check it out — the photo on the door and the view are one and the same!
Even in my rain suit with only my face peeking out, she recognized me, called me over, and offered me a Coke and a Nutty Buddy bar. She was there to give a lift to Witchdoktor, Squirt, Chow Town, Merlin, and Merlin’s dog, Wade. Heck, just getting to chill with Wade for a little while was trail magic in itself.
Wade — the goodest boi on the trail.
A hometown connection
Height of Land overlooks Mooselookmeguntic Lake and is where I met up with Wesley and Diana Miller. Diana grew up in the same small town in northwester PA where I live.
Diana heard about my hike and offered a place to stay when I got to Maine. I gratefully accepted the generous offer, which resulted in a much-needed shower and laundry. I had dealt with rain for four days straight and I needed to dry out.
Wesley and Diana Miller
Wes made an amazing salad and Diana made turkey for dinner. They told me all about their home, which sits above the shore of Mooselookmeguntic Lake, the history of the area, described winter in Maine, and so much more. In short, they felt like old friends even though we’d never met before.
I enjoyed watching the hummingbirds around Wes’ 50 feeders as well as the ducks he calls in from the lake. A tour of his garden gave me some ideas for my own garden next spring.
The next morning, Wes made a delicious breakfast and they took me to a grocery store where I resupplied for the next five days on trail. When I got to the register, Wes insisted on paying.
Sammiches and more
Alana and Christy make a trip to a dirt road that crosses the trail once a year to do trail magic. I just happened to hit that magic just north of Rangely. They were making sandwiches and they also had chips, pop, candy, and homemade cookies.
The Sammich Ladies, Christy and Alana.
They made me a “Maine Italian Sub,” which consisted of ham, Swiss cheese, oil, pickles, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. They wrapped it up in a piece of paper and I took it with me. When I reached the summit of Saddleback Mountain, I sat down in the sun and fully enjoyed the trail magic.
Two trail magics in one day
Within a mile of Alana and Christy’s sammiches, there was more trail magic at Piazza Rock lean-to. Sure, I had just eaten chips and cookies and downed a can of Sprite, but I had walked almost another mile, and hiker hunger was kicking back in.
I followed to sign indicating there was trail magic at the lean-to, and was welcomed by a lovely couple and the scent of stew cooking in a dutch oven over a campfire.
Moose stew, homemade bread and cookies, fresh cherry tomatoes from their garden…I’ve gone through all of my notes looking for their names, but can’t find them. They have a YouTube channel and interviewed me for it. Anyway, thanks to the Mrs. for bagging the moose in the stew—it was the first moose I’ve ever eaten. And thanks to both Mr. and Mrs. for carting the feast in to the shelter for hikers to enjoy.
Not your average hot dog
Maine has its own hot dog, and it’s bright red.
At the East Flagstaff Road crossing, Slow Stepper and Mary had set up a grill and a table full of goodies. When they served up a hot dog, I looked at it skeptically, thinking the red color meant it was some kind of spicy meat that would set my mouth on fire. Slow Stepper assured me that the red was, “Just a Maine thing.”
Slow Stepper and Mary and their table full of goodies.
After finishing the hot dog and lemonade, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to go, which I ate later on for dinner.
Monson Family magic
When I arrived at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson, I was at my lowest weight on the trail. After dropping my pack on a bunk, I headed for the shower and was happy to find a scale in the bathroom. I hadn’t seen one in at least a month.
I stepped on and my jaw dropped. Since Hostel Around the Bend in Hiawassee, GA, I had lost 42 lbs., down another seven pounds since the last time I’d seen a scale about a month prior.
However, between Shaw’s hiker breakfasts, copious amounts of iced tea and Vitamin Water, and visits to the Monson General Store, I headed into the Hundred Mile Wilderness back up another six pounds. Some of those pounds were gained thanks to a dinner courtesy of my brother-in-law who drove all the way from the Maine coast to visit.
Rollie, my husband, joined me at Shaw’s, then his brother joined us for the afternoon and treated us to dinner while we updated each other on what’s happened in the years since we were last together.
Memories flowed as we reconnected. Definite trail magic.
Magic at base camp
In the most unlikely place, we were treated to trail magic once again.
O.G. walked into the Birches campsite at Katahdin Stream camping area. He had a backpack cooler filled with enough Coca Cola, beer, and apples to satisfy all twelve weary yet excited thru-hikers.
Hopper (background) was excited for the treats brought by O.G.
Both Rollie and I enjoyed an apple and a Coke, and before he left, O.G. asked if anyone wanted extras. I grabbed a Coke and an apple which I celebrated with the next day at the summit of Katahdin.
Final trail magic
After descending Katahdin, we headed for Abol campground where Longshot was waiting to drive us back to Shaw’s. As we got into the vehicle, he asked, “Want some pizza?”
Our first experiences with trail magic in Georgia resulted in our desire to give trail magic to next year’s thru hikers, and hopefully every year that follows. Our plan is to drive to a portion of the trail in Pennsylvania and set up trail magic for a long weekend. Having hiked the whole thing, I think I have a handle on what hikers want and need. We look forward to meeting the class of 2024 at our first attempt at trail magic!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.