Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Trail Angels
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver. ~ Barbara De Angelis
So tonight I thought I would talk about Trail Angels. Now this is obviously a self-serving post for me and hopefully for my fellow hikers who are attempting a through hike this year. A Trail Angel is someone who through kindness comes to the aid of thru-hikers. This in its highest form could be allowing someone to stay in your home or helping an injured hiker get to a hospital or doctor. However most of the time Trail Angels are folks who seemingly appear out of nowhere to give you want you desire or need.
The person who stops to pick you up while hitchhiking into town on a rainy day, and really, picking up a hairy, smelly, soaking wet hiker on the side of the road absolutely qualifies someone as an angel. There are stories of folks who set up at access points on the trail and serve up hot dogs and cold drinks. I’ve heard told of 6 packs showing up in streams along the trail with a sign saying take one. There are lots of folks in trail towns who take people in or let them camp in their yard. Chance encounters with day hikers can turn into gifts of food, water or cooking fuel. Homemade cookies or brownies added to a drop box are always welcome, did you see that last phrase little sister!
If you are following a thru-hiker’s blog (really not just mine people) if you know they are going to be in a particular town or are picking up a drop box somewhere, you could send them a surprise. Or, if you really want to make sure they get one, message them and ask them if you can send a box somewhere to them. A couple of quick notes on being an effective trail angel:
1. Send edible goodies! But not things in cans or anything heavy to carry. If you do, it will be eaten immediately if possible, but likely will be put aside.
2. Unless you’ve communicated with someone, don’t send gear. So many well-meaning people have offered me gear for my hike. As kind as the offers are, they often really miss the point of what we are doing and the gear is usually far too heavy or ill-suited for our purposes. Most of us have pretty extensively worked on our set ups and have what we need.
3. If you encounter a thru-hiker, kind words, a snack, an offer for a ride are great ways to instantly become a trail angel. It doesn’t have to be something big, a small bag of Doritos could make a hikers whole day, some of that bottled water you are carrying that is really heavy, pour a little in our bottles and let us carry it for you.
4. If you are planning on going to the trail to give away some food or cold drinks, shoot out a message on Twitter with the hashtag #AT2015 with some details, that way hikers in the area can pace themselves out to take advantage of your kindness.
Hopefully you get the idea, you could even plan to meet someone at a point on the trail and bring a little something, but as the other person thru-hiking with her, could you bring a little extra, we all sure would appreciate it.
Here are some pieces about trail angels and the trail magic they provide, who knows they might give you some ideas, enjoy, and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane