Trail Provisions

26 May

Well, we are now at a place in Roan Mountain, TN. I have never been here, but have read a lot about eastern Tennessee as I have dabbled in my love of Appalachian folklore and life. It is a very beautiful part of the country. Green mountains, gorgeous trail, and spring fed hollows. It is simple in its beauty with untouched mountains and a sparse population. This is the part of the trail where it gets the reputation of being a “green tunnel”. The trail has a life of its own as it meanders down the coast, and it also has its own bit of magic that is rarely talked about off the trail.
We have explained before about trail magic and trail angels. However, there is another saying amongst hikers and it is that the “trail provides”. It sounds hokey I know, but I swear it is true. You just have to put it out into the universe and chances are you will get what you need. We, of course, have examples.
Most recently we experienced the trail providing for us in Damascus. We had always planned on staying in and zero-ing in Damascus. We had never even considered that we may be there during Trail Days. (A festival for hikers and vendors.) For a hiking town Damascus is surprisingly not dog friendly. There is a hostel there that accepts dogs but when we called for a reservation they were booked. So our new plan was to hike in, get our box, and hike out to the other side of town. For no real reason we ended up taking an extra day to get to Damascus. As luck would have it that extra day allowed for a vacancy at the hostel. We had a half day into town, an enormous meal, and a hostel with Internet! This proved to be awesome because it allowed me to Skype with my husband, and Jen to “FaceTime” with her boyfriend. We were happy girls. (The ice cream sundaes we had for dinner may have also helped improve our moods.) We needed a place to rest and refuel, we were sure it was not going to happen, and as we walked by the hostel we noticed a vacancy sign. It was early in the day and there was room in the Inn. The trail provided.
Another example. On our last day in the Grayson Highlands we had cut our food quite short. Somehow we had not put lunches in our last drop. We are not sure what happened but we suspect somewhere we will have double lunches. When that happens it will be less of an issue. Too little food proved to be a challenge. My poor hiking partner was starving. I was hungry, but Jen just does not have the fat reserves that this lady has and it was quite difficult for her to keep her energy level high enough to sustain the hiking we were doing. After a meager breakfast we set off down the trail with our empty food bags. Then, about 4 miles in, there was trail magic! Polaris, a thru hiker from last year, was there to support his moms current thru hike. His dad had driven in coolers of drinks and food! They were super friendly and encouraged us to take some food for the road…and we did. That day we went from having nothing to having too much. It was truly amazing. We were hungry, and then we were not. The trail provided.
Now for an obscure example of the trail providing. Somewhere in the Northern part of this journey I received an impossible gift from the trail. A tiny screw. My phone case is water proof. Where the head phone jack is there is a watertight screw. The case comes with a replacement plastic screw in case you lose the metal one. Well, I lost the metal one and then the plastic one. We were in a very rainy patch and I was worried about my phone. I keep it in my hip belt pocket to use the camera. At that particular time we did not have an extra zip lock and my phone was vulnerable. So that evening in the dark of the shelter I looked to my left and what did I see? A screw for my phone case! I asked everyone who was there if it belonged to them and no one claimed it. Magic! My phone was saved. I like to think that the screws I had lost showed up to replace the hardware I now use for my phone case. This little guy has been with me since. It is in my case now. Once again, the trail provided.
I know this may sound silly, but believe me it is not.
Last, but most definitely not least, was a time in Maine. I was sick. Not the call out from work sick, but the I need to get to the hospital sick. I had been running a temperature way above 101 for almost two days, been very ill multiple times, had not had a shower in at least 7 days, and had been deliriously resting in a tent while my hiking partner did her best to care for me with what she had. It was not much. We managed to get to a “road” sandwiched between two mountains. No cell service. No cars. Then as we were trying to figure out what to do, a family showed up. After talking to us for a bit they decided to cut their trip in half and take us to the hospital. So, these total strangers loaded up two dirty hikers and a dog and took us to the closest hospital. I cannot thank these people enough. When in need I was provided true Trail Angels.
I don’t know how it works or why. It is one of the great mysteries of the trail. All I know is that it is somehow true. If you put it out there…chances are you will get what you need. “The trail will provide.”

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