This is a free-flowing list recognizing the many instances of trail magic and trying to thank the many, many amazing Trail Angels I met along the way. I apologize in advance if I missed mentioning anything or anyone specifically; it’s not intentional, just a casualty of my sometimes faulty memory.
First, thanks to all the hostels owners, shuttle drivers and support staff at the cool places I stayed…the AT has an outstanding network surrounding it, catering to the needs of so many hikers. Such folks really make the experience unique and sometimes even life-changing. Many of my best hostel experiences were in New England, particularly Maine (Green Mountain House in Vermont, AT Lodge, Shaws, Maine Roadhouse). There were also some phenomenal standouts in Virginia and Tennessee/North Carolina (Mountain Harbor, Woods Hole). Quite a few of the hostels that I stayed at were donation-based and/or affiliated with a church…though a bit rustic, these were some of my favorites for their down-to-earth & giving-back nature. Such legendary and renowned places are an integral part of the AT experience. I feel fortunate to have visited so many of them.
As for all the rest, in order of appearance, here goes:
Avery, who shared her Lean-to with me in Baxter State Park. Emily, who gifted me her spare buff when mine got blown away on Katahdin. Zack, who gave me some excess food in the 100mw (I didn’t need any but wanted to help him shed some weight). Random guy who left soda on the back of his truck near Caratunk. Owners of the Sterling Inn, who let me take a free shower and gave me good advice on crossing the Kennebec River. Person who left bags of chips at a trailhead just before the Bigalows. Day hikers that shared their lunch with me on top the Saddlebacks. Owlcat’s van of trail magic. Guy at the Rangely grocery store that gave a bunch of us thru-hikers food and one even some cash. Jen, who drove us to the Rangely gear store and back to trailhead in her van. Several coolers of soda (Mt Madison, several trailheads in Vermont). Sarah & John & kid’s TM table at Kinsman Notch and also gave me a ride into Lincoln.
Chet, who shared his wisdom and garage hostel. Miss Janet, who shared a soda and a lot of trail knowledge. Rutland guys that gave me a ride into town and some green mountain magic. Firewood Angel, who I met for the 2nd year in a row and who gave me a 1 mile bypass ride on his Quad (did it just because I could!). Cooler of sodas & snacks in North Adams (2nd time I hit that same cooler since hiking the LT a year before!). Picky, who bought me a desert for my B-day on top Greylock and provided hundreds of miles of great companionship. Friendly NOBO Mona Leafa that gave me extra food on top Greylock: Beet Powder Power…we connected months later on Insta and laughed about that memory. The folks that maintain the Cheshire town campsite and bikes…loved that spot! Soda at Tom Levardi’s place in Dalton. Cookie Lady…cookies & lemonade in the shade of an oasis on a very hot day…the legend live on! Kelly and Nick (Stellar’s relatives) who bought 3 of us hikers lunch in Great Barrington. Papa Joe, who gave us a ride back to the trail and shared his interesting hiker stats that he collects.
Companionship and goodies endowed by long-time friends Cuba and Yoyo as we passed through NY/NJ. Lady that gave me a ride back from Walmart near Port Clinton. 501 shelter goodies left by a local TA. Jinx’s Hiker Feed in PA…this lady really went out of her way to bring the magic to us! Cooler of much needed water and sodas from fellow SOBO hiker Heartstrings in PA.
Huge box of energy bars at the PO in Duncannon, donated by a local patron. Magical gifts from Honeydew. Beers from Ramble and Wilson at the Fairyland shelter. Three different groups of section hikers that gave me a bunch of food in and around Harpers Ferry. Tom, who gave me a ride from HP into the DC metro area. My friends Sheila and Gretchen, who once again shared their home in DC for 2 days. Random box of cliff bars left at a trailhead just before Shenandoah. Yellow Truck shuttle driver that gave me free rides in and out of Waynesboro VA. Cooler of soda and wine coolers left near Humpback rocks, VA. Open and his parents who shared their food, home & love…sorry I almost lost a chicken!
Twig of Pearisburg, who drove me around and fetched dinner for us…such a great caretaker for the church hostel there. Neville of Woods Hole, who gave me a ride to the ALDHA Gathering, plus all the nice folks I met there that gave me so many words of encouragement for the rest of my hike. Random case of beer left in the Partnership Shelter. Uncle Johnny (Mud Lantern’s uncle), who spent quality time with us in Damascus, drove us all around, paid for 2 nights in the hotel, and showered us with food and friendship. Marlene’s love, support and Prius of goodies (both before and after the Roan Highlands—Dennis Cove rd & Iron Mt gap). Bob People’s cool hostel and grand stories, plus all the incredible trail maintenance this legendary man has done over the years.
Section hikers that gave me a TON of their extra food at the Mountain Harbor B&B…best trail food I had almost all trail and lasted me a week! Backpacking ladies that shared their homemade waffle, cream and berry sandwiches. Appel, the most well traveled and sophisticated Trail Angel, complete with his hiker counter/detector! This was my 2nd time meeting him on a long trail, the first being when he was doing trail magic on the CDT in 2019. I almost ran into in 2017 on the Colorado Trail…missed him by just a few days back then. Fresh Ground & the Leapfrog Cafe…read my blog posts about being Fresh Grounded multiple times in the Smokies and at Fontana dam. The guy is a phenom. He’s even started a non-profit, where you can make donations to his cause.
And finally, my good friends Donna, Sofie & Arthur, who meet Mud Lantern and myself in multiple locations in NC, dragged our soaking-wet bodies home, feed us profusely, and shared their warm, comfy homes with us…this was all so needed and appreciated during the cold and wet days of late October. I’m not sure I would have made it through those sections in such weather without them. Lastly, Mud Lantern’s parents, who gave me a ride from Amicalola Falls all the way to the Atlanta airport.
I don’t say much about my partner, given his preferences for anonymity and privacy. But a whole lot goes without saying, I couldn’t do all this without his love and support. And thanks to my parents, Cicily and Neil. My mom eagerly follows all my posts online and my dad, well, I’d like to think that he now gets to follow along effortlessly from up above. His presence on this earth is sorely missed but I feel closest to him when I’m high in the mountains. Seeing Mud’s parents at the end made me very sad that my own parents couldn’t meet me at the finish line, but they’ve always been there for me.