From Trail Magic to Tramily

In my first 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail, I have been blown away by the kindness I’ve been shown. I knew going in that trail magic was a big part of what makes thru-hiking the AT special. I had no idea how quickly I would feel the impact.

As you may know from one of my previous posts, “Conquering the Approach Trail”, Miguel and I hit some obstacles during our first few days. We were so stoked to make it to Neel’s Gap and had intentions of finding a place to stay off-trail for the night. We did not plan ahead and as we sat inside Mountain Crossings, trying to get warm while we called around, we quickly found that nothing was available. We hadn’t considered that it was the Saturday of Valentine’s weekend.

At this point, smelly, tired, and in desperate need of town food, we knew we were going to have to hit the trail again and keep it moving. Little did we know that someone nearby overheard us and was ready to share some trail magic. A fellow 2021 thru-hiker named Dave (“Spotter”) overheard us calling around and had recognized Miguel from his YouTube channel about our journey. He was accompanied by the lovely Rayven and Rhonda. They all decided to invite us to come stay with them at the cabin they had rented in Blairsville for the evening!

Rhonda, Rayven, Spotter, myself, and Miguel

This was our first real experience of trail magic. And it didn’t stop at a warm place to sleep in a comfy bed (which would have been more than enough). They took us to the local grocery store to do a full resupply and drove us to pick up pizza and beer. We showered at the cabin and washed all of our clothes. It really doesn’t get any better for a thru-hiker.

Spotter and the Gang

So the very morning Spotter, Rhonda, and Rayven drove us back to Neel’s Gap was the day he was heading up Springer Mountain to start his own thru-hike with his friends “Packman” and “Gadget”. We hoped they would eventually catch up to us, given our slower pace. Well sure enough, with said pace mixed with not one but two double zero’s, they caught up to us at the NOC! Miguel and I have only spent the last few days hiking with them and already know we want to spend the foreseeable future with them.

Road Trip to Paradise: A Trail Name Story

So initially, Miguel and I did not want to give each other our trail names. Not unless we were pretty far in and still had none. Well, at mile 152.9, after two days with our new group, we both got trail name suggestions and both accepted. Mine was well earned. As I may have mentioned, I am clumsy. That being said, I have tripped on more rocks, roots, branches, than I would care to admit. Our new group picked up on this quickly. Gadget says “in your travels, you have tripped a lot so I think we should call you “Road Trip”. I laughed, then quickly and graciously accepted.

In the same lunch break, the group also notices Miguel’s very blue and very tropical hat. That, paired with his St. Pete “no worries” attitude, they quickly offered up the trail name “Paradise.” So in short, we will now be collectively referred to as “Road Trip 2 Paradise”. We now feel more official than ever.


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Comments 10

  • Charlene V Rafaloski : Mar 11th

    Hi, Nadia!!! Wooot! Boy oh boy do I miss you. Girl, I’m so proud of you! What a champ! Good for you and Paradise. Love following your progress and am enjoying your blogs. <3 You're awesome! Nice story about Spotter, Rhonda, and Rayven, that's God watching over you guys. Blessings all around. Keep up the great work. Sending love. Stay safe.

    Your friend,

  • pearwood : Mar 12th

    Ah, Road Trip and Paradise. So now we know the rest of the story on your trail names. You two are looking good. Keep on walking!

  • Tricia Atkinson : Mar 14th

    What a life changing adventure!!!
    Will look forward to your posts in the next months.
    My husband and I did Blood Mountain on Feb.9 and it was still very icey.
    Hope all that was gone by the time you made it there.
    I meet a young girl at Blood Mt.who was hiking alone…her trail name wasBraveheart…just wondering if you happened to catch up with her along the way. I have been praying for her since then..I did not get any other information from her. She looked about your age.
    We will be praying for you as well.
    Tricia “Silver Fox” Atkinson
    PS. We are wintering in Placida,Fl. But from Jasper, Ga.

  • Linda B : Mar 14th

    I was wondering where the two of you were on the trail. Love your trail names! Good luck and keep hiking!

  • Renee A : Mar 14th

    Love reading your posts, Nadia! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  • Adam : Mar 15th

    Oh I hope and pray I get to meet you when you get the the top of Bear Mountain. I often go up there to see if any hikers are coming through. I’ll be sure to pack some goodies for some of you. I still dream of doing this but my window is closing.
    Trek on. Be safe.

  • Miguel Santiago : Mar 17th

    Words can not express the amount of excitement and happiness I am to have you as my partner through this journey. I’m so proud of you and your work and all the things you have to look forward to.

    Love you,

  • Kelly B. : Mar 18th

    Love following you guys, and LOVE the trail names!


  • Laurie Haw : Mar 18th

    Thank you for your heart warming ‘trail magic’ story and your trail names are absolutely perfect! I can’t wait to hear more of y’alls journey as it unfolds.

  • Luann : May 5th

    Nadia, I am Wuba, Will’s aunt. He really liked hiking with y’all. I have enjoyed following you and Miguel’s journey on the Appalachian Trail. I especially enjoyed the video of when Wuba’s backpack fell off the picnic table. Safe travels.


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