May 1, 2017 
The Best and Worst

The best and worst part of hiking the trail has been meeting some pretty amazing people. In our first few days we fell into a bubble. We hiked together, lunched, camped, and had a few beers at the Budget Inn. You start to get attached to these people and you may even say “see you later for dinner.”  All of a sudden, you’ve done different mileage or resupplied on a different day. You have to accept that you may never see them again. It’s hard not to be bummed out, but the trail has a way of introducing you to other people who you would otherwise have never known! The trail even reintroduces some old friends at the most random and wonderful times.
This brings me to my last point. A common saying is “the trail always provides.” We speak of the trail as if it is a living force. This is because it gives back to hikers in unimaginable ways. It is comparable to karma. If you are out here with good intentions and an open mind, the trail will find different ways to provide hope, encouragement, and even help.
I have already witnessed trail magic in this short time. My first experience was a physical manifestation. I awoke early on Easter Sunday to three local women who hiked out just to bring candy to the hikers at Lance Creek. This happened just after my mom expressed how bummed she was to not be able to give me an Easter basket (yes, I am 22 and I still look forward to this).
My next encounter with trail magic was a spiritual one. I don’t consider myself an extremely religious person, but I had an overwhelming desire to say a prayer out loud. Later that day I was told that Blood Mountain was historically a very spiritual place. Fact check anyone? The internet is spotty out here.
Overall, I have been genuinely amazed with the amount of generosity from members of the local communities. For example, a church group held a barbeque for 3 straight days at 3 different trail intersections simply to feed hungry hikers.  Imagine being in the woods for five consecutive days with nothing but peanut butter, ramen, and pasta sides. You’re hungry, tired, and dirty, and you just need to camp one more night before you can shower. As you begin another decent down yet another mountain side, a red canopy tent rises out of the fog. A young, blonde, girl who’s noticeably clean waves to you. For a brief moment, you question the reality of the situation. Suddenly, you hit a wall of the familiar scent of a smoking grill. You realize it is not a mirage and real hamburgers await your arrival. Pure ecstasy.
These acts make a huge difference in morale. The smallest kindness stays with you for many miles.

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