Trail Magic Blunts, Burritos, and Beer
Bama➡️Baxter Day 71&72
Day 71: 7.7 miles
In the morning the five of us were packed up and ready to go by 7:30am. We did the first 3 miles of the day really quick and arrived at an area known as The Stalls. When we arrived there was a massive trail operation set up which was such an epic morning surprise. The guys had arrived yesterday to do some cinco de Mayo trail magic.
Smoke and Holy Shit were there and had apparently camped there the night before. We talked to them for a bit and then they hiked on. Two friendly dogs greeted me and I pet them both simultaneously. They sandwiched me in and I was having the time of my life. Moments later one of the guys at the trail magic handed me a blunt to smoke. At that point I knew for sure that today was going to be a damn good day.
The guys running this operation had been doing it for 14 years and knew exactly what the hell they were doing. They used a cast iron skillet to cook up bacon and eggs for breakfast burritos. They also had sour cream, cheese, and beans you could top it with. Plus tons of different types of hot sauce. While I ate they were offering us drinks and we couldn’t resist doing a late Cinco de Mayo celebration. So I had tequila and the guys had margaritas and beers. I also drank an absurd amount of soda. I’ve never been to a trail magic operation before that had literally everything you could have imagined.
This morning Boosted texted us all to let us know that his buddy Carson was getting off trail. He’s just mentally and physically done and doesn’t want to continue on. They were able to walk to a road where Carson could get a ride. After that Boosted had to cruise along and make up some miles to catch up to us. When we told him about the trail magic he let us know that he’d be there soon. He wound up getting to the trail magic way sooner than I would have expected. Then he joined in on the festivities.
Other hikers came and went from the trail magic all day long. We saw Phoenix, Platinum, Papa Bear, and a few others hikers that we’ve been leapfrogging with lately. And while we kept on enjoying the magic most everyone else continued along. But we were in the zone and vortexing hard. The guys kept serving up new food options and were encouraging us all to eat and drink as much as we could.
Later on in the afternoon we were still there! For lunch one guy made a heaping cauldron of meatballs and sauce for meatball subs. It was truly legendary. I had two subs and more soda and was in heaven. Plus I spent a lot of the day cuddling Boosted’s dog Roxy which was wonderful. She’s getting more and more used to the trail every day and it’s really cool to see.
As the day progressed we kept pushing back our departure time. We were all really enjoying ourselves and enjoying the company of the guys hosting us. People were playing can jam, laying out in the grass on their pads, and stuffing their faces. What an incredible surprise for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a trail magic experience like this before. The guys were passing around blunts just as freely as they were handing out beers and serving up food. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Once it got past 3pm we really began to contemplate hiking out. It was incredibly tempting to just stay all day and set up our camps. The guys at the trail magic were definitely encouraging us to do so as well which didn’t make it any easier. But in the end we decided to at least hike out and go a bit further. We had planned to do 16 miles today and so far had only done 3 miles. This day sure didn’t turn our as planned but it was the best day ever.
Eventually we actually got our things together got ready to walk again. The guys kept trying to give us more food and drinks to take with us too. Their generosity was unbelievable. In the end we headed off with a bag of 4 frozen burritos. And another hiker Smokey offered to carry all 4 of them too which was super nice. He recently sent a ton of weight home in gear so he could care less about a little more weight.
It was around 3:50pm when we finally left the trail magic. After saying goodbye and thanking that fantastic group of men for everything we set out. I cannot fathom that we were there from nearly 9am-4pm. We literally stayed at that trail magic operation for 7 hours! But it was totally worth it and I would do it again.
When we hiked out I was feeling a bit tired but very fueled by all the food and drinks. The trail was fortunately pretty casual and we only had one short climb. It went on for a about a mile and then it was all downhill for a few miles after that. We didn’t plan to make it far but knew that we had to leave the magic or we never were going to.
Three miles in we came to the Old Orchard Shelter and decided to take a break. When everyone caught up we talked about whether to keep going and for how long. There was a camp site and water in about 1.7 more miles so we figured we could at least get there and reassess. If we decided to go any further we would have had to start a pretty big climb. And none of us were in the mood to tackle that tonight.
We arrived at the water source by a road and trailhead around 6pm. There was good water and a large grassy area with fire rings and picnic tables. It was a car camping and equestrian camping type area. But it looked good enough for us and everyone was pretty ready to be done. I’m just impressed that we did nearly another 5 miles after leaving that trail magic. Not too shabby.
Spring Break and Tia decided to do another mile or so and have an island night. An island night is when you’re in the mood to camp by yourself and just chill out. Sometimes you just need that out here. Especially when you’re pretty much constantly surrounded by other hikers. It can be surprising how little privacy and personal time you have while hiking in a tramily.
We knew that we’d see the two of them tomorrow morning at some point as well. We’re all heading the same place on the same time table still. While they continued on the rest of us set up our tents of tarps in the camping area. It was really nice and flat and there was plenty of space. I got my tent situated and then grabbed what I wanted and went over to sit at the picnic table. All of us sat there and ate dinner and talked.
Smokey got a fire going so that we could heat up the four burritos that the guys at the trail magic had sent us away with. They were so delicious and such an awesome on trail dinner. After eating and sitting out for a while we all decided to call it a night. I did some stretching in my tent and then headed to bed.
Day 72: 22.3 miles
This morning all of us woke up fairly early and were walking by 7am. Spring Break and Tia were ahead of us on trail somewhere so we were eager to catch up to them.
All of us got to walking and had a bit of a climb to start the day. It certainly woke me up and after a couple of miles I was feeling warmed up. We continued on after that and enjoyed a few miles of downhill before coming to Comers Creek Falls about 6 miles into the morning. And we were pleasantly surprised to see that Spring Break and Tia were hanging out there waiting for us! All of us hung out there for a bit before continuing along.
There were a few miles of climbing after that but it was gradual enough to just plod on. We managed to push on for another 5 miles or so before taking our next break. The Trimpi Shelter was just off trail so we decided to sit there for lunch. Another hiker Papa Bear was there setting up to stay for the night. We’ve been seeing him a lot these last few days and I’ve enjoyed talking with him. He is a super nice dude. We all ate some food while we were there and I took some time to stretch.
Papa Bear filled me in on a couple of guys on the trail who I should be careful around. They were at the amazing trail magic with us yesterday and apparently made some comments about me around Papa Bear. He clearly thought it was important enough to let me know, but didn’t feel comfortable repeating what they had said. Gotta love that. So at least now I knew there names and could put two and two together if I meet them in the future.
After breaking there for a while we all decided to push on and do the last 10 miles of the day. The shelter that we are aiming for tonight is close enough to a road that you can order pizza to it. So all of us were super excited for that and definitely feeling motivated. This next stretch was a bit easier than the earlier part of the day. We had a small descent before a fairly gradual climb. Up at the top we crossed Pugh Mountain Road and decided to stop there for a final break of the day. We only had 4 miles remaining to the Partnership Shelter where we planned to spend the night. While we were breaking there two hikers passed us named Cheerios and Animal. I hadn’t seen those guys since the Smokey Mountains which seemed pretty crazy. I love how the trail works out.
Eventually we set out to do the final 4 miles of the day. This last stretch of trail had a couple gradual ascents and descents but nothing major. The time really flew by while I was dreaming of the pizza and soda to be had.
When we arrived at the shelter we were greeted by a bunch of hikers who we knew which was an awesome feeling. Phoenix, Platinum, Animal, and Cheerios were all there. We’ve met each of them at least a couple of times at this point. And not long after we arrived three other hikers who we knew showed up too! It was Stakes, GG, and Gummi Bear. Three really cool hikers who we’ve been seeing a lot lately. They seem like a really fun crew.
Stakes had a big cut on her face and we asked her what had happened. Apparently they arrived at the trail magic the other day just after we left. A bunch of other hikers were there and one trail family in particular was there that we have also been leapfrogging with recently. One of the guys has a dog and was having the dog do tricks and what not. At one point he put the dog on Stakes’ lap and it wound up biting her in the face. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when she told us. She was such a trooper about it and I was shocked because the dog had seemed super friendly when I saw it. The guy never even kept it on a leash it seemed so well behaved. But you just never know what someone else’s dog might do.
Luckily it didn’t get her eye and she was doing ok. She’s going to go to urgent care tomorrow to stave off a very likely infection. I was impressed how good of an attitude she had about the whole situation. Truthfully I don’t think that I would have handled it so gracefully. I would have been heated.
After everyone arrived at the shelter and got set up we all got ready to finally order the pizza. We were able to make one phone call and place a ton of separate orders which was super convenient. I got way too much food but I didn’t even care. Sweet Pea, Boosted, and I decided to go in on a colossus pizza together, which is a 28 inch supreme pizza. We figured that between the three of us we could crush that and a few sides as well. But our eyes were way bigger than our stomachs.
When we food arrived we realized just how much we had ordered. The pizza alone was massive and would have probably been enough to feed 5 hikers. On top of that I got garlic knots and cheese fries. The guys all got multiple sides as well. We started eating and it became obvious very quickly that the three of us were not capable of taking on the colossus pizza. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sweet Pea look so defeated. He can usually put away food like no one else I’ve ever seen. All of us did as much as we could and wound up offering food to anyone else who wanted some. And in the end we still had an absurd amount of food leftover.
Once we all thoroughly stuffed our faces we decided to get ready for bed. Sweet Pea and I both got spots up on the top floor of the shelter. But the only way up was a tall ladder so Boosted couldn’t get his dog Roxy up there. I got my sleep pad set up and then did some stretching before finally calling it a night.
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What did you do with the “absurd amount” of leftover food when you went to bed?
Leftovers on the AT.
Nice post. Thx.
I so enjoy your blog posts! I am delighted by all the fun people your travel with, and your adventures! Thank you so much for sharing! You’ve definitely inspired my younger self to give my older self the courage to take on the AT in 2024, for my 69th, or 2025 for my 70th. No matter which year I’m very excited, and look forward to following along your journey. 🤣👍
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