We left the Standing Bear Farm in a slight drizzle and as we scaled our first hill for the day the rain became more persistent. The weather forecast predicted a high probability of rain for today so we thought we were mentally ready, and my new rain coat worked well.
But the rain came down stronger and stronger, and the wind was icy, I was freezing so the beauty around me went mostly unnoticed. By 12h we reached a shelter (one of those 3-wall wooden structures with roofs) and decided to pull in for lunch. There was no other hikers and after seeing the weather forecast was for the rain to calm down after 13h, we thought we will give ourselves an hour lunch break.
As you can imagine a meal consisting of a few crackers and some cheese can only be stretched to 15mins, so to pass time Trevor decided to make coffee. Now he has been really lazy to make coffee (this is one of his duties) so this was a treat; it tasted great, it warmed my hands holding the hiker’s mug and it warmed the inside too.
When we set off walking again there was definitely an improvement in the weather, now and again we saw patches of blue sky and occasionally the sun whipped a few beams towards us. But it was still damn cold. I was thinking my blog for the day would be “it was wet it was cold it was miserable”.
Then we came around a bend in the path and 50m away we saw a canary yellow truck, and two blue tents on an insignificant little dirt road crossing the AT. Trail magic when most needed and least expected, and most likely the best trail magic ever!
Two x-marines who hiked 100miles on the AT several years ago and do a trail magic weekend once a year because they love the trail, love the hikers and love the concept of trail magic.
The one guy lives on the coast and drove 7 hours to get here. He owns an artisan brewery and had 3 craft beers on tap. Lunch was hamburgers and ….. believe it or not: on-the-spot cooked french fries. Trevor (plse mam may i have more cheese) said no thnx we wont eat, I shot him one of those glares which can end marriages (if we have the hamburgers I wouldnt have to cook tonight!) and I can only say the beer&burger&fries changed the mood of the day.
Walking on (one hour later – and we still had 9km to go) I thought about giving and receiving. We all find it easier to give than to receive. I know most of you (my friends and family) give easily, but get a bit uncomfortable when you are on the receiving end.
It is good to learn how to receive gracefully. The trail angels are here to give to the thru-hikers, something make them come out and cheer up the lives of a few people they dont know and will never see again. I feel so bad to receive their generousity without being able to give anything back. But it is a life lesson to me, there is nothing I can give back. They want nothing from me other than to accept their gift and to allow them to make my day special and to express grattitude for their kindness. They are teaching me the art of gracefully receiving.
I also thought back to our evening at Standing Bear. When you arrive you get a piece of orange paper, as you go through the evening buying items from their store, having a meal, having a beer, you just note down everything and its price on your paper. A complete honour system. At some point you find one of the “owners” and give the money you owe them. No checks and no control. I suppose they think if you cheat them they only lose a few dollars but you lose your integrity: so they lose little but you lose a lot. And the more I think about this system the more I like it, if anybody abuses a system the biggest loser is the abuser, so maybe we shouldnt spend so much of our energy policing everything and everybody around us?