I Was Skeptical of the Trail Providing. Until Now

The trail provides; but does it really?

Any thru-hiker of any long-distance trail in the United States has heard the phrase “the trail provides.”  I count myself in that group, I have read this phrase numerous times on blogs, e-books, social media, and books with actual pages (remember those?).  However, I was always a little skeptical of that phrase.  If I’m being honest, I can find myself very skeptical of a lot of things in life, but being “provided” for is definitely at the top of that list.  How can a trail provide for me?  What exactly will it do? How will it know?  Do people really help each other accomplish such an amazing feat?

Excuses for not Believing

I feel as though  I should explain myself just a little before I’m called a complete cynic.  In no particular order, here are the reasons why I struggled with the ideal of the trail providing.

  • I struggle with asking for help.
  • I work with the public and do not always get to see the best of people; usually it’s the worst.
  • I can be a complete introvert.
  • I am stubborn.
  • I can be crippled by anxiety and fear of nothing.
  • Did I mention that I hate asking for help?

What Changed?

Shortly after announcing my plan to thru-hike, the trail decided it was going to show me exactly what I didn’t want to believe, that it would provide.The amount of support I have received from family, friends, and even strangers has been astounding!  I expected a few supporters but I have to give the trail credit, it has brought out the love from everyone.  I have to provide a few examples to really prove this point and I love bullets (helps me organize my thoughts), so here goes:

  • My mother (who was very unsure in my first blog post) did a 180 and was like, “If you’re seriously doing this, you have my full blessing and support.”
  • My mother’s 86-year-old neighbor told her, “She’ll be just fine.  God will watch over her. Quit worrying.” There’s a lot of wisdom in all those years, I feel.
  • My wife will likely land a job close to the trail and has promised to allow me to bathe in our camper when I can visit. Major score!
  • My close friends Julie and Sarah have provided endless support throughout the last year and have pledged to send care packages as needed.
  • My best friend since kindergarten (BF) said, “You were made for this.” I promptly began crying.
  • My mother-in-law shared my post and connected with a trail angel who has already promised to “feed her some good food” once I reach Bland, VA.

Countless other family, friends, and strangers have reached out to wish me good luck and offer any help that I may need.  It wasn’t until the trail angel appeared that I finally got the message. “Hey, look. Quit ignoring me. I am providing for you already! Anyone who knows me, knows that I have to be hit square in the face with the obvious before I’ll believe it.  The trail did just that. So here’s to a new believer.  The trail does provide, even before I’m placing a foot on it.  I just needed to open my eyes.  Much love to all of my tribe; old, new, and unseen, for the endless love you’ve provided.  I’ll carry it with me to Maine!



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Comments 1

  • Mark Stanavage : Jan 3rd

    I have to send this to a good friend who has been broken by a rough divorce. I have told him any number of times how the trail heals. When humanity and “civilization ” wear me down, I return to the trail to recharge my faith in the basic goodness in people. Stripping away the emotional baggage, electricity, plumbing, internet, politics, accumulation of goods over people … the good remains. May water and friends be there when you need them and trail magic be serendipitous!


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