July 19, 2021

Trail Magic

Trail Magic is like fairy dust.

One tiny sprinkle travels quite a distance.

Just what is this “trail magic” stuff anyway?

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says: The term “trail magic” was coined by long-distance hikers to describe an unexpected occurrence that lifts a hiker’s spirits and inspires awe or gratitude. “Trail magic” may be as simple as being offered a candy bar by a passing hiker or spotting an elusive species of wildlife. The work of A.T. volunteers, who devote hundreds of thousands of hours to the A.T. every year to maintain and protect it, is sometimes considered the “ultimate trail magic.”

In case you didn’t know, the Appalachian Trail attracts the most fabulous people. Men, women, teens, kids, and even dogs hike the trail for many different reasons ranging from the challenge, taking time to think, or heal, or figure out what’s next. Some do it to get fit, and often, the AT is hiked in someone’s memory. Unlike a marathon, no one gets a medal placed around their neck at the finish line. This challenge far exceeds the bling.

No matter how big your why was on day one, at some point, the trek gets grueling and your why gets cloudy. The majority of AT hikers set off in Georgia and head north to Maine. By the time they reach Connecticut, they’ve traveled about 1500 miles by foot, and with around 700 more to go, their spirits can use a little lifting. Hikers call this Trail Magic. And it dusts us in a couple of ways.

This past week I provided trail magic to a few people I met while hiking a section. Engine, Wheelz, Voodoo, and Tucker (aka High Life on the trail) were thrilled to have Thai food, IPA’s, showers, a chance to watch the Bucs beat the Suns, and a bed for the night. But it was equally as excellent for me to host them.

I am section hiking the AT, and boy, even that kicks your butt! However, I get to come home at night and take a warm shower and eat a great meal and sleep in my comfy bed or an Airbnb somewhere. I can only imagine, if I was on the trail for weeks or months on end, how wonderful it would be to have a tiny break.

We laughed and swapped stories. They shared what inspired them to tackle the AT. I told them how I became a marathon runner when I started running to support my pregnant friend Lisa in treatment for breast cancer. Lisa lost that fight, but I continued to keep her memory alive in my heart with every step I ran. In just a few hours, we brought each other joy, laughter, and inspiration.

The coolest thing happened when I dropped them back at the trail the following day. They asked if they could dedicate that section to my friend Lisa. 

Now, this is what trail magic is all about.

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About Susan Wheeler
Mom of 4😊7 grands❤️ultra runner 🏃‍♀️natural health strategist🍇writer 🌶organic farm owner🥕
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