Day 5: All Sorts of Trail Magic

I spent much of today’s 6.9 mile “nero” hike thinking about why I blog. But the trail seemed bent on distracting me with trail magic.

Good ol’ Traditional Trail Magic

I walked into some traditional trail magic at Tesnatee Gap where “King Tut” and his friend were set up with tables of treats, coffee, and cold drinks. I grabbed a donut and some hot chocolate, but passed on the quick-drying backpacker towels and knit hats King Tut was demo-ing. New gear is new weight.

Better Trail Magic

But the trail had some better magic in store for me. After the big climb out of Neels Gap, I walked up on Ms. Skittish from yesterday who smiled and waved after recognizing my dog. In fact, it was Gus, not Roux (who seems to have gotten the trail name “Rex,” but that’s beside the point). Ms. Now-Not-So-Skittish was with two friends this morning. We chatted about my dog, laughed about yesterday’s hat rescue (it was delivered to its owner), and today’s destinations. A much different experience than yesterday.

Then, when I stopped at King Tut’s trail magic, I saw Quiet Guy and Headphone Guy in the small crowd. Quiet Guy, who’s name turns out to be Will, gave me a quiet nod as I walked in, so I introduced myself by saying that I thought we’d seen each other for a few days in a row. Will said yeah, but he kept thinking I’d left the trail every time he saw me climb into our van. He’s a nice guy, but definitely a quiet one.

Flush with success, I went and sat next to Headphone Guy. His trail name is “Ad Astra” (to the stars) which is the first half of the Kansas State Motto. I think you can guess where he’s from. He’s also not a big talker, but he was curious about the story behind “The Incident” (and no, I did not tell him the story). I think he and Will could be trail buddies.

I also ran across Steve this morning, who we watered up at Cooper Gap after he hiked in nearly dehydrated on Day 2. Steve is now “Bushwack” and is hiking with Banshee and (no name yet), two hikers I’d met a few days ago. Mrs. I was disappointed to learn that “Thirsty Steve” hadn’t stuck as his trail name.

I think the trail sent me all this magic to tell me to be patient. Just like at the freshmen mixer.

But Wait, There’s More

Also, there’s now a pair of my sneakers in the tree at Neels Gap. It’s the slightly too-small pair I bought in Jasper after leaving my hiking shoes home before my 2014 section hike. I found them under my desk when I cleaned out my office in December and brought them along. You can read about all that in previous posts.

Why do I blog?

While hiking today, I got a few emails in response to yesterday’s post, which started me thinking about why I blog.

Mostly, I blog to record my journeys for myself, my family, and my friends. It also makes me happy to entertain some friends I haven’t met yet. Plus, I enjoy writing. I’ve always said that I think better with a pen in my hand. Writing helps me make sense of my world. Finally, I like making Mrs. The Incident laugh. Few things delight me more than having her chuckle over some story I’ve written.

Because I’m mostly writing for myself, I want my blog to be real. I want to record my unsanitized thoughts in the moment and how I felt and reacted as the day’s events unfolded. I’ve read AT blogs where the author suddenly announced they were quitting the trail, but they’d never even hinted that things were anything but perfect. In those cases, I felt deceived or that I’d been cheated out of the real AT experience.

As such, I will occasionally be wrong or make judgments about what I experience without all the pertinent facts. Other times, I may write something that bothers you or challenges the way you think about the world. That’s okay. Tomorrow’s, or next week’s blog may show a change of opinion, emotional growth, or a deeper truth I learned along the way. Or not. At this point, I have no idea where this journey will go.

So, if I offend you, I’m sorry. Please feel free to comment (politely, please) and tell me where you think I went wrong. If you think I’m misinformed, either tell me or wait to see if I figure it out for myself.

The best stories have some tension and character growth. We’ll see if this turns out to be one of those.

Daily Stats:

  • Start: Neel Gap (Mile 31.3)
  • End: Hogpen Gap (Mile 38.2)
  • Weather: Storm clouds a’coming’
  • Earworm: None
  • Meditation: Jn. 6:68
  • Best Thing: Trail Magic
  • Worst Thing: Lunch at Hofbrauhaus in Helen

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Comments 14

  • Ann Arbor : Apr 14th

    really enjoying your writing. keep it up. love the meditations at the end. rock on!

    • Jon : Apr 14th

      Thanks, Ann Arbor (M go Blue). Feel free to suggest some daily meditations for me.

    • Jon : Apr 17th

      Thanks! Feel free to suggest meditations for me.

  • Ben : Apr 14th

    Hi Jon,
    I enjoy reading your posts, probably because your honesty comes through…. Please continue. Look forward to following your adventure and happy hiking.
    All the best.

    • Jon : Apr 14th

      Thanks, Ben!

    • Jon : Apr 17th

      Thanks, Ben.

  • Venture : Apr 14th

    I agree with your assessment of your lunch experience in Hellen. Keep on telling it like you see it. –Venture

    • Jon : Apr 16th


    • Jon : Apr 17th

      Thanks, Venture.

  • Jim : Apr 17th

    You’ve vaulted into first place as my favorite blogger. Keep up the good work!

    • Jon : Apr 17th

      Thanks, Jim. Made my day.

  • Debbie Carney : Apr 29th

    Love seeing someone on the trail with the Bible meditations with him.
    I am hoping to do a section hike and wonder how I would do with being a Christ follower

  • Debbie Carney : Apr 29th

    And, Jesus loves you.

  • Charlotte : May 6th

    I love your posts! As someone who is going to do the AT next year for my 69th birthday I am finding the viewpoints of the various bloggers entertaining, and informative. However, knowing you have grown children, a Mrs. I, and dogs along with you endears me more! I loved your entrance at the start of the trail. If I had been sitting there, I would have laughed and struck up a friendly welcome to you. I look forward to following along, and taking ‘notes to self’ for my AT thru hike next year. (PS disclosing my age was not intended to assume you are my age.)


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