Trail Magic & Trail Angels Week 8 on the AT!

Hello Friends! Days continue to pass, miles are marked with white blazes and various situations present themselves. It continues to amaze me how the days are filled. Something else that amazes me is trail magic.

Trail magic is any unexpected free benefit that presents itself to a hiker on the trail.

Imagine you have been walking through the woods for miles and you come to a forest road crossing. You spot a cooler and open it to find ice cold beverages left just for you. Magic!

Some trail magic is left anonymously and it doesn’t have to be fancy to get a hiker excited. Boxes and coolers filled with snacks and drinks. Garbage bags hung on sign posts meant for the trash hikers so readily accumulate. Some of the best trail magic is bottles of water placed at dry sections of the trail.

Other trail magic is more elaborate, put on by groups associated with the trail, former thru-hikers, families of current hikers, or anyone with love for the trail and a soft spot for hikers. They might provide hot food, fruit and items that hikers tend to need like toilet paper.

Trail magic can be giving a hiker a ride into town. Some trail angels even take hikers into their homes or offer them other support they might need.

Who is this trail angel?

Many seem to be religiously motivated. That form of bhakti yoga, caring for the beloved inside of each person. For others, it is their connection to the trail. Their own transformative experience draws them to come back and spend time with other hikers.

Another hiker stated that people want to help people who are helping themselves. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a huge undertaking. Regardless of if you are through hiking section hiking, or just spending a short amount of time on the trail and feels the connection to it and can understand the amount of effort, it takes to spend any length of time on it.

A longtime hiker/trail angel told me that it makes him feel better about himself.

Long distance hikers put themselves in a vulnerable position being out here. There are also many support services we can pay for but it is good to know that there are also trail angels around.

If you find yourself close to the Appalachian Trail, during thru-hiking season, you might consider providing some trail magic. Simply offering a cookie or a cold drink can make the difference in a hiker’s day or even their entire hike.

Day 49

Mile 659.1 – campsite by the creek

It was a damp and windy night, but we awoke to a clear morning and took our time getting ready to go. We discovered a small hole in the floor of our tent and need to fix it.

There was a lot of ridge walking, meadows and powerline views. We came across several other hikers we were familiar with heading southbound. Some were slack-packing (paying a shuttle at a hostel to drop them off a distance from the trail with daypacks and then they hike back and stay at the hostel).

We took a nice break, and I interviewed Last Minute on his AT experience since he’s been with us as a tramily for the past week.

We spotted a black rat snake at our break spot and we saw several red efts since they love being out after the rain.

We ended up stopping at the creek and found a campsite next to a fire damaged area. It had an apocalyptic feel, but it is flat, which is the most important thing.

Day 50

Mile 675.2 – Laurel Branch Shelter Camping Area

We begin our day with a big up. Rocks made it quite challenging and technical. Wind Rock had a beautiful view and we went down so that we could have a nice big up again, but that’s the way it goes on the Appalachian Trail.

Last Minute continues to be a big champ and we were able to make it to our campsite before the rain came. Turns out the rain wasn’t going to be terribly bad in the evening anyway, but it’s always good to have your tent set up by 6:30 PM , the area is very pretty. We also saw a lot of mountain laurel in bloom today which was beautiful. It’s amazing how you can go through so many varying areas and seemingly different terrain.

And we had Last Minute over for dinner in our tent tonight, and shared our chapter 2 video with him. It’s so cool to see how beautiful of an experience we’ve been having from a different perspective.

Day 51

Best Western, Roanoke, VA

After waking up from not too rainy of a night, we packed up and hiked the 2.5 miles to VA 42. Our shuttle driver was scheduled to arrive at 10 AM to take us to Roanoke to the Best Western where Last Minute had already reserved a room.

Before the shuttle arrived, Last Minute completed his 100 miles with us! Then he and All Day continued the 1 mile and some change past the road to go see the largest oak in the south on the AT.

We were able to check into our room early. Our friends Lost and Found also came to say at the hotel and they have their car with them so after showers we were out to eat at the Olive Garden and then went to Walmart to procure some items.

I’m back at the hotel we hung out, had snacks and relaxed. Holding true to his name, Last Minute’s laundry didn’t get done until after 10 o’clock at night when he was scheduled to fly out at 7:20 in the morning.

Day 52

Mile 687.8 Niday Shelter

We started off the day by being the first ones to breakfast. The eggs were not vegetarian, and Joyce kindly offered to make us plain scrambled eggs. She brought out too huge plates of scrambled eggs. We ate our fill and returned to the room. Not long after, Lost and Found texted us and told us the waffles were running out, so we headed back down for a second breakfast.

I enjoyed my nap while All Day took care of some financial business on the phone.

Honey Bun drove us back to the trail. His conversation made the trip go by quickly.

Adjusting to life back on the trail without Last Minute was a struggle at first. We had to sit and chat amongst the large Keffer oak. We worked things out, and re-committed ourselves to our friendship and having a wonderful time out here.

The miles were not long, but the trail provided lots of struggles in the form of wet slanted rocks on the ridge. We enjoyed seeing our first rainbow and many red newts.

The rain came and went today, but it didn’t stay the whole day which made things a lot easier. During our dinner break the rain picked up and it’s just so important to be patient. Take your time and always give yourself what you need.

Day 53

Mile 704.5, Four Pines Hostel

We were so fortunate to hear the Whippoorwill last night, and in the morning, we heard a cuckoo. All Day also saw a scarlet tanager in the morning. The rain was lovely through the night and it didn’t come into our tent. It started and stopped as we prepared ourselves this morning.

We had rain and then clear times as we made our way and forded the creek where the bridge was washed out.

As we made our way onward, the terrain was pretty friendly, switchbacks were nice, and even the rain was OK.

We made our way down to a road where two former through hikers offered us some trail magic of coffee, fruit and conversation.

The rain picked up as we made our way across the spine of the mountain towards Dragon’s tooth. And dragons tooth was quite challenging in the rain, but it was amazing to see.

Tired and wet and dirty we walked the .4 miles to Four Pines Hostel, which was a wonderful haven for us.

Twisted gave us a cheese pizza to cook in the oven since we had missed dinner. We took showers and washed our clothes. The yard was great for tenting.

We saw several hikers that we are familiar with.

This evening just seems a beautiful summer evening. With fire flies, and the whippoorwill singing. The moon is out the sky is clear and hazy fog seeps over the scenic mountains.

All Day also received his new shoes sent from home and we got a box with lots of tasty treats in it.

Day 54

Zero at Four Pines Hostel

We woke up this morning and went and had coffee as two other hikers cooked breakfast provided by the hostel. As we were beginning to pack our things to leave, it just felt right to have a zero day to stay in this place, which is quite healing.

We decided that it felt good to rest in a place where we weren’t so distracted by consumption. But we sure did consume some things today and it was delicious. The consumption just didn’t consume us.

We had a really good meeting and talked about recommitting to our thru- hike and what that means to each of us and what types of goals seem approachable and realistic. We both felt good after that meeting.

We did what we could to help out around the hostel. They provide dinner every night to Hikers so we got to cook lasagna salad and also had garlic bread and watermelon. It was fun to cook for so many people. After the rain from the past few days, the hostel is pretty full.

The sun came out today and everyone was happy about that. We did get an opportunity to go down the road to the little store where we procured some tasty ice cream and a very tasty beer.

The hostel has a beautiful view of the mountains and it’s very peaceful. We also got to share our snack with a very friendly chicken.

After dinner, we relaxed in our tent. Everything is dry and we are ready to get back on the trail tomorrow.

Day 55

Mile 721.2 Lambert Meadows Campsite

We awoke refreshed after our zero day to the sound of crowing rooster’s quacking duck’s and barking dogs.

Our tent was very wet from the dew as was our quilt but we didn’t mind.

Inside the bunkhouse the same hikers were cooking breakfast and I mentioned the song Hotel California. We enjoyed coffee together and All Day likes his with cocoa.

We packed up and left the hostel. The sky was beautiful, unbelievably clear, and the sun was shining quite brightly. It was a nice day of hiking.

The McAfee Knob area was beautiful.

An eastern towhee hopped by very close to me, and I could see it’s a little feathers ruffling in the wind. It was a very pretty bird that seem to want my attention and maybe it’s just used to getting snacks from people.

We had a really nice break there and relaxed both in the sun and in the shade. We continued to enjoy our hike, and the Tinker Cliffs.

We saw a lot of wildlife today. Bunnies, deer a rat snake and a lizard. It seems like we see different kinds of lizards each time we see a lizard.

We were ready to set up our tent and enjoyed socializing around the fire with a couple other hikers, hoping that our tent would dry a bit.

Breaks are very important to general well-being.
The largest tree in the southern part of the AT.
Dragon’s Tooth
Struggling on wet, slanted rocks at the Eastern Continental Divide.
Even difficult days come with pleasant surprises!
Yep, the trail down from Dragon’s Tooth is straight down a rocky ledge. Let’s add some rain!
Enjoying our stay and making friends at Four Pines Hostel.

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Comments 2

  • Megan A Irvine : Jun 9th

    I’ve never seen you with your hair down. You look great!

    • Laura Budde : Jun 17th

      Thanks, Megan! We are doing our best to stay well on the trail.


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