Aug 13, 2017 : Katie Eckman Appalachian Trail
Omelette Man (August 2)
This morning I woke up to the last traces of sunrise and the gentle call of the mourning doves. This is a good way to wake up, just kind of easing in to a new day. I hiked up Mount Cube, which opened several times into rocky slab clearings that faced the mountain I had climbed the day before- Smart Mountain. I sat at one clearing, drank some instant coffee sent from home, watched the mountain and thought of home and family. It was a pretty relaxing morning, other than climbing a mountain.
Unfortunately the miles to follow were less pleasant. Since I specifically complained about mosquitoes in a past blog post, the bugs have been much better. I kind of regretted complaining in the first place, but now on this day they attacked again. I was hiking over some boggy ground again, often over log bridges, mosquitoes and gnats swarming left, right, above, below. It’s so frustrating when they dodge your swats and then attack again. Can’t they take a hint?
Fortunately I had a goal in mind: making it to “The Omelette Man”. For days I’ve heard of the Omelette Man, a man who camps out by the trail and makes eggs for passing thru hikers. Many hikers literally look forward to meeting the Omelette Man for days, if not weeks, in advance. I was one of those hikers. Sometimes it’s nice just to have something special to look forward to.
After several frustrating miles, I arrived hot, sweaty and bug-bitten at the Omelette Man’s tent awning. The Omelette Man was sitting with a dog, chatting with a southbound hiker. Soon he was welcoming me, asking me how many eggs I wanted and what I wanted in them. He informed me that the record is 24 eggs. (I asked for 3). His tent awning was complete with several folding chairs, tables, a cook system, boxes of donuts, gallons of juice. It was like a small breakfast oasis in the middle of the forest. I learned that the Omelette Man is retired, and a few years ago started reading books on thru hiking. He said, “What I was even more interested in than thru hiking, though, was trail magic. I thought, that’s something I could get into. I can’t travel the world, but I can let the world come to me…” So last year he became the Omelette Man- nearly every day over the summer, he drives to this spot and packs in supplies and makes omelettes for hikers from 8a – 5p. He’s met all kinds of people this way, from all kinds of places. Sometimes hikers will come for dinner and then camp nearby so they can get breakfast the next day…and he doesn’t seem to mind! He said, “If I know hikers are coming back early in the morning, I’ll skip coffee and sitting with a paper at home and come out to the trail by 7a!” This particularly fascinated me- instead of feeling bitter about hikers asking for more and more, he just gives more. A truly humble and generous attitude. Luckily he seems to feel well rewarded for his efforts. He told me, “So many times I hear hikers say, ‘Omelette Man! I finally get to meet you! I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for so long!'” He has become a trail celebrity, though a humble one. He won’t accept donations, advising wanna-be donors to donate to other organizations.
This was one of the best trail magic experiences I’ve had in a while. Just as much as eating some tasty food, it was nice to sit, relax, pat a dog and chat. I’ll add this to the list of surprising and inspiring trail magic experiences I’ve had out here.
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