Jun 21, 2012 at 9:26 am #1291249
Well after numerous arguments over on WB i'll ask folks here what they think. It seems to me that the Trail Magic definition has been watered down with so many people doing hiker feeds basically the whole way up the AT.
My understanding is that it used to be random acts of kindness in a time of need..
now people just want to go around calling themselves trail angels and telling their friends about how much they did.
maybe i just have a higher standard?Jun 21, 2012 at 9:42 am #1888955
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
Yeah I hear you get three hots and a cot most of the way up.
Cafeteria style: long tables with plates at the front of the line and just grab what you want as you walk by.
…half mile up the trail there's a little soft serve dispenser and sundae station.
Man I gotta do that trail somedayJun 21, 2012 at 9:52 am #1888957
Try the Pacific Northwest Trail, I can guarantee next to zero "trail magic" http://samh.net/backpacking/?do=showproduct&id=114
I think the trail names and trail magic is all a little hokey. Would love to see the maintenance groups get more shine.Jun 21, 2012 at 9:53 am #1888958
Is trail magic more of a northern AT phenomenon? I have hiked about 300 miles from Springer northwards over the least couple years and have yet to run into a single trail angel. Either way, I keep reading on WB about how it seems to be growing more & more each year.
RyanJun 21, 2012 at 9:57 am #1888960
have you done it while the NOBO bubble is going through the southern part? Reading Balls and Sunshine's blog they seem to have hit a lot of stuff down south too.
I agree, trail crews, section maintainers, etc should be given more credit. And help for THEM should be given.. hikers have plenty of food. trails crews can always use extra help.
I think *Real* trail magic should not be put into the same space as cookout parties. Someone giving an extra pair of gloves in the cold.. driving someone to and from the post office before it closes.. giving a spare bottle of water when someone is totally out. Things that are planned and even worse, anticipated seems to cheapen it.Jun 21, 2012 at 10:12 am #1888968
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
A related thread:
For what its worth, I don't think premeditation cheapens the idea of trail magic at all. I often find my (usually limited) faith in humanity restored by some of the people I meet on the trail. Kindness to others, planned or not, is always better than the alternatives.Jun 21, 2012 at 10:22 am #1888971
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
The trail itself it my opinion. :)
Not coolers, burgers or beers….though I've been known to enjoy them on occasion! :DJun 21, 2012 at 10:43 am #1888980
is it really magic if the person is dishing out a specific amount – "here is your 1/2 liter of water and one cookie, move along, need some for the next guy."
the real magic is when someone does something in the moment. like realizing they have 2 gallons of water (sealed) they don't need after a day hike and put it just inside the treeline at a road crossing on an unseasonable 95F degree day in May. it was still cold!
i have no clue who it was but they are an angel.Jun 21, 2012 at 11:11 am #1888989
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
Why are you judging others' generosity against your own personal scale of sacrifice? I could just as well say if they really wanted to make it meaningful, they'd be donating to a food pantry* instead of handing out cookies to hikers (who if they can afford hiking gear and time away from work can usually also afford some cookies of their own.) Generosity is generosity, whether it's coming from one's own deprivation, unplanned excess, or planned investment.
*that exclusively serves impoverished, orphan inner-city kids with terminal cancer and a history of domestic abuse by their (now non-custodial) wicked stepmothers. If they want it to be meaningful, that is.Jun 21, 2012 at 11:35 am #1888996
reading Balls and sunshine they hit 7 hiker feeds before harpers ferry… 3 in one day sometime in the first few weeks. that seems excessive.
and i do think that those contributions would be better served to people in actual need like a shelter or soup kitchen.
maybe i just have a more wilderness point of view on backpacking.. I go hike to see mountains, rivers etc not weekend bbq's.Jun 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm #1889007
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
I originally wanted the AT to be my first thruhike but I've begun to question whether I want to thru-it at all, or instead just hit the remoter sections. I don't really want my time in the woods to be a social event. That would diminish the AT experience for me, but it probably enhances it for others. I get where you're coming from there. The AT goes through a lot of heavily populated areas. I think the definition of trail magic probably shifts depending on the popularity of the trail and its proximity to population centers. If people are deriving meaning from a kind act, I'm not going to fault that, though. If enough hikers don't like the busy-ness of the experience the AT will become less busy and the number of bbqs will probably wane.Jun 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm #1889011
If you leave before the bubble or go SOBO apparently you get a much less party atmosphere.
personally i don't have the motivation to do a full long trail like that.. so Long trail, JMT, Colorado trail are much more appealingJun 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm #1889024
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
IMO large, planned cookouts for hikers is certainly generous and bespeaks of good character, and those arranging it probably qualify as trail angels, but isn't "magic." It's just a really cool event.
Magic is something unexpected. It is a boon. It is nigh-miraculous.
When you're northbound on the PCT in that really dry section everyone talks about (which I can't remember), your tongue is swelling in your mouth and you're really doubting that you're gonna make it to your next water source, but you crest the ridge and sitting there under a juniper is a half-dozen gallon jugs of water…. magic.
When you stumble onto the highway after nightfall in a rainstorm looking like an axe murderer due to your 10-day beard and funky wardrobe, because your tent just caught a gust and flew off towards Kansas carrying your sleeping system with it, and some little grandma immediately pulls over because she recognized you as a hiker and asks if you need a lift to town… magic.
I guess I would specify that magic has to be a conscious act on somebody's part, though- it isn't magic if you find a box of Junior Mints that someone lost on the trail after losing your entire food supply to a ninja racoon. But it IS magic if a little girl gives them to you when you stumble out of theunderbrush while gnawing on a piece of bark with your stomach growling.Jun 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm #1889037
I did it the summer I was pregnant with my second son. I couldn't hike much so doing TA'ing was a fun way to waste time. A cool story was seeing the same faces I saw at the Columbia River and then at Urich Shelter. I have a soft spot for Urich.
I have hiked in with food, beer, fuel, etc, I have left water and beer in remote dry spots.
I did it because as I said….I couldn't hike and it passed the time and made someone elses hike easier/funner.Jun 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm #1889061
"have you done it while the NOBO bubble is going through the southern part? Reading Balls and Sunshine's blog they seem to have hit a lot of stuff down south too."
Good point. We normally hike towards the tail end of the bubble like mid-April so that may be why we have missed them so far.
RyanJun 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm #1889075
Did a bit of research. the ATC is not happy about the increase in hiker feeds.
snippet from their site
"“TRAIL MAGIC” ALONG THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL
Issue: The evolution of “Trail Magic” from small spontaneous acts of kindness to larger and increasingly common planned social events, such as multi-day hiker “feeds,” and the
appropriateness of leaving unattended food and drink along the A.T.
Background: Spontaneous acts of generosity and hospitality provided by “Trail Angels” are one of the A.T.’s hallmarks. "Trail magic" can be a wonderful thing when done in ways that is not harmful to trail resources, wildlife, or the experience of hikers. However, there is a growing concern in the A.T. community that Trail Magic is evolving in ways that are inconsistent with the intended “Trail Experience” defined by the ATC’s Board of Managers:
“The sum of opportunities that are available for those walking the Appalachian Trail to interact with the wild, scenic, pastoral, cultural, and natural elements of the environment of the Appalachian Trail, unfettered and unimpeded by competing sights or sounds and in as direct and intimate a manner as possible.”
"Limit the number and size of events and locate them in developed, off-trail areas with paved,graveled, or grassy surfaces. Remember that some people come to the Trail to get away from crowds and are seeking an opportunity for solitude and contemplation."
"Forego advertising. Publicizing a “feed” in advance can lead to clumping of thru-hikers,
causing overcrowded conditions at shelters and campsites. Billboards are for highways.
Advertising – even non-commercial – is prohibited on the A.T. to preserve its wilderness
characterJun 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm #1889089
"Is trail magic more of a northern AT phenomenon? I have hiked about 300 miles from Springer northwards over the least couple years and have yet to run into a single trail angel. Either way, I keep reading on WB about how it seems to be growing more & more each year. "
They are completely out of control in ga during the peak season. I was out quite a bit trail running in March on the GA AT and I saw massive feeds just past three forks and in two different places near Unicoi Gap. Frankly I think it spoils the thru hikers and makes more of a party environment than a wilderness experience.
I think a simple cooler with drinks or fruit was incredibly cool on the PCT. My favorite had to be the coolers under the freeway at the bottom of Fuller Ridge. That was magic.Jun 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm #1889092Jun 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm #1889094
Sarah, I don't have a major problem with giving out snacks and stuff in small bunches.. but as stated above the AT is becoming one long buffet line. Out west they seem to be fewer and far between so the impact is not that bad.
I mostly have a problem with the term "trail magic" being mostly associated with tables of food instead of actual "magic" found by people in actual need.Jun 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm #1889111
Magic is different to every person. So is how going hiking is. Some people get spiritual when they hike, others like me hike for the relaxation and challenges and or a chance to BS for hours with friends while we hike. The wilderness isn't the same to everyone.
Unless you are the AT or PCT in certain areas you aren't likely to run into TA'ing. So why get so upset?
The PCT Days in Oregon is a stinkfest of trail trash – and a lot of fun. I am a social critter and I like giving a smile if I can.Jun 22, 2012 at 12:26 am #1889141
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I thought trail magic is when you got back to the trail head and your car is
1) still there
2) not broken into
3) no flat tires
4) it starts
I have never seen an angel; on a trail or otherwise. But I try to pick trails where I won't see anyone else :)Jun 22, 2012 at 1:55 am #1889150
@sschloss1Locale: New England
Jake, if you don't like trail magic, then you have 3 options:
1) hike trails that don't have trail magic
2) hike trails in seasons when no one is doing hiker feeds (we hiked the first 200 miles of the AT last fall and got no organized trail magic)
3) skip the trail magic–no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to eat.
You're entitled to your opinion, but don't act like trail magic is somehow ruining certain trails for you. You can avoid it.Jun 22, 2012 at 6:26 am #1889172
I care because people ignore the ATC guidelines and ignore LNT (ie leaving coolers of food out for days that can get broken into)
I had no desire to do the AT and this aspect pushes that home even more. But there are plenty of others who think the way I do that DO want to do it.
I also care because people who do really nice random things without planning or notice just help another person out. but people who set up a picnic get way more recognition.
I feel that trail feeds on the ATC are becoming a problem and new people see them and think it is what is supposed to be done to "help" and create their own.. then you have then all over the place.
Sounds like another version of Blue blazing since you are getting aided half way through the southern states.
on WB 2 very vocal folks who have never even stepped on the trail want to set things up without any knowledge of what they are doing. they just see videos and journals about tables of food and think that is the best way to help. ATC states that helping trail crews and clean ups are much more needed for the trail.Jun 22, 2012 at 6:38 am #1889173Jun 22, 2012 at 7:20 am #1889181
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
If you've ever done an organized race, those tents with all the food look like an aid station. :O
Think the whole hiker feed phenom is that it is a way for people to become part of this 2000 mile long linear community. For people who have not done a long hike/thru-hike of the AT, it is way of becoming part of the culture. For the hikers who have done a long hike and are now doing hiker feeds, it is way to still stay part.
Trail work? Not as 'fun' to many. (Not my view, hard work..but you get beer and good food at the end ! :) )
As others have said, maybe it is good to start differentiating between trail magic and hiker feeds.
Are the hiker feed good or bad? Dunno. But it does change a long trail experience when it is very prevalent.
So it goes…
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