God Bless Trail Angels

Betty Creek Gap to Rock Gap: Woke up around 3am to water droplets falling on my head. I quickly realized all my stuff was soaked, unsure as to why my tent leaked. It felt nearly impossible to get out in the pouring rain, but I had a trail angel named Spidy who was picking me up at the trailhead. He was a former 2018 thru-hiker who hosted hikers in his mountain house—all donation based.

Without wallowing too much in thought about the rain, I quickly packed up and started walking. I had to rock scramble up a steep hill and summit in the dark. I got lost several times due to the fog which added a good mile to my trip, but I hit the 100 mile marker so I was stoked! The branches that were used to make the mile marker sign were completely drenched in rain and mud—pretty accurate experience of the AT so far.

I waited for the sun to come out but completely forgot about the time change. Daylight savings time was always such a trip to me; glad we didn’t do that in Hawaii. On the way down, I slipped on the mud, face planted and broke my umbrella in the process. The water that collected onto the path was up to my shins. My gloves were fully drenched in cold water and I was on the verge of crying. I was basically running instead of hiking as I tried to keep warm. It didn’t help much, but oh my god, the joy I felt when I saw Spidy at the trailhead was off the charts! I gave him a deep hug and thanked him for saving me. He opened the door of his truck, a wave of heat hit me and I yelled, “Thank you!! Ahhhh!! I’m sooo happy!!!” When I sat in the front seat, he offered me a hot cup of coffee and half a dozen doughnuts. I was in tears of gratitude as I munched on a jelly-filled doughnut.

He took me up the mountain, driving up windy gravel roads all the way up to his home. I was able to have a hot shower, do laundry and dry all my gear out beside a fire. We watched movies with his wife and I cuddled with his dogs while drinking hot coffee.

Then, we drove to town to pick up another hiker who happened to be Castles! He was going to be spending the night with me! We got burgers at Motor Company Grill and as we were waiting, a guy asked if we were thru-hiking. When we said yes, he asked, “Are you guys in need of anything? Any trail magic? Do you need to do laundry? Do you need any food?” We thanked him and let him know we were all taken care of. Regardless, my heart melted from such a loving gesture.

Afterwards, we went to Three Eagles Outfitters and I chatted with one of the workers, Solace, whom I immediately hit it off with. He basically said, “Fuck it, let’s go hike the Te Araroa together!” Obviously, I said yes, but I had to finish the AT first! I hugged him in gratitude for his presence and he said he could feed off my energy for thousands of miles. The store employees gave us some stickers and advice for upcoming sections. It was clear how much they loved catering to hikers.

Spidy drove us back to the top of the mountain and Castles and I hung out in our nest for the night. He kept the fire going as we talked about where we came from and about our belief systems. He studied purely Calvinism whereas I was over here talking about sex cults and orgies. So fun witnessing the plethora of people on trail and all the different types of backgrounds they came from.

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