Magical Trail Encounter

The Amazing People You Meet on Trail

So instead of a long recap of what I’ve been doing over the past 50ish miles (like crossing the GA/NC border, summiting a bunch of climbs, losing one of our Tramily {miss you Jon}, and Laura and Cheyenne consistently rejecting trail names), I have to tell you about meeting this wicked cool dude on trail.

**The following is a true story and happened within a 48hr period**

Every good story starts out with “No shit, there I was” so as not to break protocol; no shit, there I was in Siler Bald shelter waiting out an epic stormy day. Checking FarOut to see where the next shelter is and another hiker walks up through the wind and rain. He introduces himself as trail name Frodo. Kind of a cool name so I ask him how he got it. He said his best friend Sam named him.

We discussed pushing on to the next shelter and decided to stay put because of the storm. A couple hours later the Hoosier Boys, trail names CFO (Check FarOut) and Jones walk up. They decided to stay the night as well. At dinner we had some general chit-chat and Frodo mentioned that he is carrying something very special and precious to him.

He pulls out a golden ring on a necklace and tells us it’s the one ring. One of what, I don’t know, but it looks cool.

He said there’s writing on it but I couldn’t see any until he held it over his burning camp stove. Apparently fire helps to bring it out. He said it’s the language of Mordor but I’ve never heard of that. It looked like a combination of French and Arabic. Maybe he meant Morocco? I mean, I have some of my dogs ashes, but nothing as cool as a piece of jewelry with writing on it exposed by flame.

The next morning Frodo and I headed out early. We get to Siler Bald and we go up to check out the sunrise. Before we get to the top he stops and says let him go first to make sure the coast is clear because there’s some guy trail name Gollum who’s been following him. Weird to have someone following you on a thru-hike. He clears the way and we catch a glimpse of an amazing sunrise. Back to hiking.

Top of Siler Bald. Frodo in background

While walking along he mentions he was hiking with another guy, trail name Boromir. He said he got away from him because he was getting obsessive about the one ring. Again, kinda weird.

We started to get a little chilly so stopped to put on a wind jacket. Frodo pulls out this amazing looking hoodie which was super lightweight and reflects light. I asked him what material it is and he said mithril.

Me: “Hm. Never heard of that. Who makes it? Enlightened Equipment? Hyperlight? Z-packs?”

Frodo: “My uncle Bilbo gave it to me. It’s made from a company out of Rivendale.”

Rivendale-I’ve never heard of that either. Maybe he met Riverdale?

We hike on and Frodo got a little bit ahead. I caught up to him and he’s sitting down having a snack. I asked if he ate breakfast and he says yes but this is second breakfast.

Me: “I didn’t know there was a second breakfast”

Frodo: “Oh yes. Second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper”

Dude eats a lot. Maybe that’s how he can hike so far everyday.

We continue on and reach this stone tower on Wayah Bald. Frodo said it was once the great tower of Rohan, but I didn’t see anything about that name on the plaques. Cool name though.

Top of Wayah Bald. Frodo says this is the tower of Rohan

As we’re hiking down we start talking about trail names. He said he thinks mine should be Legolas. I’m thinking “Huh? Legolas?”

Me: “Why Legolas?”
Frodo: “Because you said you’re good with a bow”

Me: “Bro, I said I had an archery merit badge from Boy Scouts. I’m not like a super bow hunter”

Frodo: “We’ll need a bow on our journey”

Like what in the hell?! I’ll have to check with my Tramily to see if that’s ok.

After a couple miles we stop to take a quick break. Frodo said this is Elevenses. We still have luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, AND supper. I don’t know if I can eat that much.

I can tell he’s a little tired so I think maybe I should offer to carry the one ring for awhile.

Me: “You know, I can help share the load and maybe carry the ring for a bit”

Frodo: “No” emphatically. Then gets up, throws on his pack, and mumbled something about it being precious. Oh well, just trying to help. Don’t kick me out like Boromir.

We get to Tellico Gap and it just sucks. There’s no spots for tenting and it’s a literal parking lot filled with cars. Frodo decided he’ll push a little further to see if there’s maybe a better spot up ahead. I’m hanging out, waiting, checking some stuff on my phone since I had good signal and a car pulls in. It’s a fellow thru hiker alumni! Trail name Gastank gives me an apple and some trail mix. I think that this can count as afternoon tea. Frodo would be proud.

Frodo found a spot up top of Wesser Bald, but I’m pretty beat for the day. I decide to tent at Tellico Gap and climb down to the NOC tomorrow. Laying in my tent Frodo texts me and says to be watchful because Orcs patrol the eastern shore of the Nantahala. Again, HUH?? Gotta be a typo. He probably meant owls. Not sure why they would patrol the eastern shore though. Anywho, I’m tired and it’s off to bed.

Early morning start to get a jump on the day. The trail is just WRECKED from all the storms last week. Blow downs everywhere. Especially on the exposed ridge lines.

Bad blowdowns

It’s slow going so it takes me a hot minute to get down to the NOC. Frodo texts me that he’s already at the NOC. I said he didn’t have to wait for me and he can have second breakfast if he wants. About 30 min later he texts me that he ate at Rivers End restaurant. He said he doesn’t hone much to foreign food, but the French toast was really good. Foreign food? Is this dude even American??

I make it down to the NOC and go straight to the Rivers End restaurant. Leave my pack outside and get seated at a table by the window of the river. I know I stink and I kind of feel bad they sat me inside. I order a Diet Coke, water, two side salads with Italian dressing, and the Sherpa rice with blackened steak (medium rare). The rice is life changing. Total chefs kiss.

The famous NOC sign and area

Pay my tab and stop by the Outfitters to look around before Amy from Wing and Hoof picks me up. I open the thru hiker sign-in book and notice that trail name Gollum signed. TODAY!!! He’s gotta be close. I text Frodo and let him know that crazy dude he was talking about might be on trail near him.  He said thanks and he’ll be vigilant. Stay alert, stay alive.

Amy from Wing and Hoof picks me up and brings me back to their spot. Awesome place!!! So worth it! They have horses, goats, baby goats, alpacas, cats, pretty much a ton of domestic animals. Free breakfast, all complimentary non-alcoholic drinks, and all shuttles are included. They do slackpacking as well.

Sitting on the huge entertainment deck with some others staying there, someone starts a conversation about meeting people on trail. I’m burning with excitement to share my story. I go on and on about Frodo and the ring, this cool wind jacket he has, how trail name Gollum is following him, how he’s always eating, the misspelling of owl to orc, how he thinks it’s Mordor but it’s probably Morocco, and everyone it’s literally just staring at me. I stop and one of the guys says

“Dude, that’s Lord of the Rings man. You know Frodo’s not real right?”

I’m like-huh? Lord of the what? I choose to just shrug it off and respond with

“Yea I’m just kidding”.

~Yes I have seen Lord of the Rings. I thought this would make for a good story of a magical trail encounter. Sometimes your mind wanders hiking endless miles. However trail name Frodo is a REAL person and he is carrying the one ring. He’s a wicked cool dude! I’m also about 99.999999% sure he is the real Frodo from Lord of the Rings~

As always thanks for following along! Wishing you great views, great climbs, and great times!

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Comments 3

  • Peter R : Mar 7th

    Ha! Thanks for the laughs, well written and clearly the result of hours of trudging. Happy trails, only about a mile, mile-and-a-half to go!

    • Stephen : Mar 7th

      Lol thanks! Glad you got a kick out of it. Still 99.999999% sure it’s the real Frodo. Almost to the Smokies!

  • marsh : Mar 8th

    Excellent writing. You get an A for creativity. Carry on!


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