No One Could Believe This Amazing Trail Magic

Fine Dining On the AT

Mishap and Mother Goose order menu items at the Appalachian Pine Mixer while their server pours hot tea.

No one would ever believe what happened when thru-hikers arrived to the Overmountain Shelter on Saturday and Sunday. Hikers were met by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) hosting a one-of-a-kind trail magic event; the Appalachian Pine Mixer.

Thru-hikers were treated to salad, entrees of gnocchi or salmon as well as dessert options. A violinist played music and a server darted from the barn kitchen to the table settings brought in by the group.

The SCAD students are part of  Collaborative Experience 409, an immersive experience involving the school’s ten-week quarters. Students began the Appalachian Trail from March 19-24 beginning at Amicalola Falls to Hogpen Gap, about forty miles, during their Spring Break. With an open prompt, students were asked to design something around their experience of the trail.

SCAD student and section hiker “Buzz” showcases the laser printed menu and crafted tables used at the Appalachian Pine Mixer this weekend.


SCAD Professor Phil “Bun Getting” Caridi says, “(Students)… with four groups of three people each came up with over 100 ideas of taking trail magic to the extreme and even impossible. After pairing the 100 things, we found what was feasible in order to provide the experience.”
Students set to work designing, welding and laser cutting tables for the dining experience. Everything from the atmosphere to costumes to the menu were constructed for the event.

Paul “Buzz (Lightyear)” Hawkins, is a Senior and head of the furniture team. Buzz says, “The biggest obstacles were to create lightweight, durable and luxurious settings. Table design used tarpaulin table cloth and tension for holding the table upright while still retaining a formal look of fine dining.”

What’s for Lunch?

Entree food options included salmon and green beans.

Hosts Talk the Trail

Effie “‘Merica!” Sodergren, Senior, pictured above, says this was her first time backpacking and was super excited for the adventure. Originally from South Florida, one of the things Merica says moved her about the AT was the community on the trail. “Every person said, ‘how’s your day?’ or were willing to share what little they all had. Also, nothing about your life outside of the trail mattered, you’re all hikers.”

Pictured from left : Effie “‘Merica!” Sodergren, Senior; George “Morge” Grant, Senior; Lindsay “BP British Petroleum” Castle, Senior; Professor Phil “Bun Getting” Caridi; Lincoln “All In Your Head” Samuelson, Sophomore; Eliza “Canoe” Hunter, Senior.

Thru-Hiker Impressions

45,000-mile thru-hiker Mother Goose says, “I have never seen anything like this. I’m like everybody else, always a day late (for events). This is incredible.”

Mother Goose had never seen anything like this during her extensive hiking adventures.

Thru-hikers Dapper Dan and SpaceJam enjoy the dining experience at the Appalachian Pine Mixer.

Dapper Dan says, “I’ve been hiking the Appalachian trail from New Hampshire to North Carolina for years. This is definitely the most original trail magic ever. I’m glad I went the distance to view the shelter and see this.”

Note: As the author and also a guest at this unique event, I wanted to personally thank the students of SCAD for this amazing experience. I apologize for missing any names of those involved. Be sure to check out @barefoothiker for more fun photos from this event!

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Comments 7

  • Jon-boy : May 8th

    That’s so cool and sweet of them to do. Very thoughtful.

  • Iviana : May 8th

    In love with the hard work and effort these students put into this event. Not only are they talented, but have an extensive passion for what they do. Very grateful to consider one of the team members my friend. Amazing!

  • Budget : May 11th


    Budget, SOBO 16

  • Cosmo : May 15th

    So much for a wilderness experience. I get the feeling I’m the only one who thinks this sort of thing should not be on the Trail.

  • Wanderer : May 15th

    Very nice but totally out of place on trail lands. Where can you go to experience and treasure the back country remote sense of wilderness if not on the AT……..would have been really very nice if that cornerstone of the AT experience had been considered and the location chosen accordingly. What will become of the mostly wild habitat of the AT if we continue to bring our man made habitat to it?

  • Vicki : May 15th

    ?❤️?As the Mom of a current Nobo thruhiker, I’m beyond surprised, impressed, and grateful fir what these terrific students planned and executed! None involved will ever forget this “trail magic” experience!

    • Brian Kibler : Sep 18th

      This is a class act. hard for anyone else to follow. i hope I run into you guys on my 2018 hike.
      by the way, Jeremy, are you related to Luis Gottschalk MD, from Houston? He is a fine person and friend


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