Life lived OUtside

The Kerby's Nursery E-Newsletter

October 14, 2021

Trail Magic

Last week we had planned to take the girls for their first backpacking adventure in Georgia. The day before we were planning to leave though, we looked at the weather forecast and saw a solid mass of rain from the panhandle to Atlanta. We decided that, even though we were fully packed, and the girls had been practicing hiking with loaded backpacks, we did not want to create three days of wet misery in the Georgia Mountains.

So instead of writing about our backpacking trip as I planned to do this week, I found myself reminiscing about backpacking years ago and experiencing trail magic.

On the Appalachian Trail, there is something that is known as Trail Magic. From the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: 'The term 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.'

For myself, my hiking experiences began with a college roommate at UF. We would drive up to the AT in northern Georgia when we could to try out our backpacking skills. It started with rented Jansport packs, and two knuckleheads wearing jeans and flannels in the cold, rainy mountains. Trust me there are tons of great stories from those early camping days, including cold pop-tarts, uncooked hot dogs, meece (the Appalachian plural for mouse), skunks, and snow-crushed tents. But those aren't today's story.

That same roommate and his wife decided to through-hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia for their honeymoon. They invited me to join them, and so, during a fall break in graduate school, I drove up to Massachusetts to join them for a section of the trail.

They had been hiking for months at this point, and my last hike had been a year earlier in Georgia. I was woefully out of shape compared to the two of them. They could easily cover 17+ miles a day and I definitely slowed them down. One night as I dragged my blistered and bruised feet one after the other, it began to rain like crazy. We'd decided to get sandwiches at a store not far from the trail, but night was coming, and we hadn't settled on a camping location. So, we were loaded down with food, heavy packs, and a dog when the rain got harder. Suddenly, this lady who gave her name as Cricket, offered us a dry place to stay. We didn't ask questions. We just piled into her van, sweaty bodies, wet packs, and all, and she showed us a little basement room where we could stay for the night. I've never been so thankful for a place to stay and a chance to get off my feet for an evening. She even fed us a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and potatoes before we headed back onto the trail the next day.

My friends said that over the course of their multi-month hike, trail magic like that happened quite a lot. Folks are very friendly and willing to help out hikers along the trail. I'm grateful that Cricket was there to help us on that rainy, dark night. It made my hiking experience that much more magical.

he more I reflect on that experience, the more I think we need trail magic in our lives, even when we aren't hiking a trail. Whether you call it paying it forward or random acts of kindness, each day presents us with the opportunity to make someone else's day better. I challenge you to be the trail magic in someone's life today. I know you have it in you.

P.S. - Don't forget to come out for this weekend's seminar on container gardening. Flower expert Jo will teach you all about thrillers, spillers, and fillers and can show you how to get your porches ready for fall.

Happy Gardening,

The Kerby's Nursery Family

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