Culver's Gap, NJ - At 10:00AM on July 18th, 2018, Christian and I set up shop in the parking lot at Culver's Gap in Stokes State Forest to perform our first-ever instance of "trail magic" for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.
Stocked with an assortment of cold beverages, snacks, and other items, we stood watch near the entrance to the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. The location was absolutely ideal for us to stand watch for thru-hikers as the lot was clearly visible from the trail through a thin wall of trees.
I had wanted to perform "trail magic" ever since reading my first book about an AT thru-hike, "AWOL on the AT" by David Miller. I was impressed by the many acts of kindness that take place on any thru-hike and wanted to partake.
We got off to a slow start on this picture-perfect hiking day. In fact, it wasn't until about noon that the first hiker passed by. Thereafter, we had the pleasure of hosting 8 more thru-hikers, from all over the country, for a total of 9.
Two of our visitors were dropped off in the parking lot by a woman performing her own trail magic by providing the hikers a ride back to the trail after they had spent the night in town. Magic to magic.
Everybody we met was absolutely fantastic and the conversations we had were fascinating. It was great to hear them describe their experience after having hiked nearly 1000 miles and through 7 states; it was also very apparent that everybody "hikes their own hike" out on the AT as each hiker had their own time frame and goal in mind.
We were also able to share tips with them and let them know what they would soon be experiencing as they hike through our region. We advised that they could look forward to The "Stairway to Heaven" trail and the Bear Mountain area (the lowest point on the AT) as they would be arriving at these locations within the next few days.
Everybody was appreciative, friendly, and passionate. The experience today reaffirmed, yet again, that the hiking community is one that is strongly connected through a respect for basic humanity. The trails breed an unspoken kinship, and as appreciative as all the thru-hikers were, we were filled with equal gratitude that they would take time out of their long journey to spend some time with us. It will be a great honor to congratulate these extraordinary individuals when they eventually scale Mount Katahdin in Maine later this year to conclude their northbound AT thru-hike!
Later this summer, we will be dropping onto the Appalachian Trail again to perform some more "trail magic". Next on our agenda is New York and the Bear Mountain section of the AT. We're really looking forward to meeting more thru-hikers and hearing more about the journey.
[ Contact us if you would be interested in joining us on a "trail magic" trip or if you have any questions - click the link above. ]