Feb 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm #1233981
On a more positive note….
Walking the JMT late into the evening I passed a couple that had already set up camp and had a nice little fire going.
They asked if I was solo, I said I was.
They asked if I was bedding down in the area, to which I responded "Yeah, just down the way to give you folks some privacy."
They told me not to worry and invited me back to share their fire and some food (which sounded better than what I had- they weren't thru-hiking).
As I was pretty committed to the solo aesthetic for the trip, I politely declined, thanked them, and went my way.
Never saw them again- but it was certainly a nice gesture and definitely boosted my morale a bit that night. Looking back, I kinda regret not stopping with them.
Same trip there was a guy passing out cans of beer at the top of Muir pass. I just missed him but was given a good swill by another stoked hiker. Very cool. VERY TASTY.
So how about some talk about community, generosity, and good deeds on the trail instead of what we hate about each other?Feb 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm #1477220
@cbertLocale: N. California
back when i was young and stupid and living in Taiwan, i went with some friends to stay at one of the friend's cousins place up in the mountains – turns out they lived just a bit away from the foot of Li-Shan (Pear Mountain), I think the 2nd highest in taiwan & a bit over 10K ft. i think it was spring time & there was still snow up on the highest part of the mt.
we walked through some trees to a trail that led to the base of the mountain and up to a waterfall partway up it – there we had lunch. my friend then said we'd be heading back – i thought the plan was to climb the mountain & stated my surprise, followed by an announcement that i would climb the thing. this was met with much skepticism, but a young visitor from korea (some kind of army exchange program) agreed to go with me.
we were practically running up the thing & it was steep (they prefer steps to switchbacks in taiwan, apparently). on the way up, a few folk asked us where we were going and our answer always elicited "bu crei-i" ("impossible"). by the looks of the people saying this, with their full backpacking kits, the late hour, and the long way we'd come, i was beginning to believe them. turns out it was at least 10 kilometers to the top, but we did make it to a false peak on the north flank, affording sweeping views of the mountains and valleys surrounding LiShan (and the sun pretty low in the sky).
We raced down: now we really were running. it was crazy – us in shorts and tshirts if memory serves. no food, no water. fortunately, one of the backpackers we'd seen on the way up was alongside the trail, with hot soup HE PREPARED IN ANTICIPATION OF OUR NEED ON THE WAY DOWN. he forced us to stop and have the soup before he let us continue on.
as we got to lower elevation and the pines gave way to bamboos, we were using the grasses and bamboos to slow our running descent, grapping them on either side of the trail as we plummeted – on turns, we'd use bamboos as pivots, grabbing them and swinging around.
as we got to the valley floor and began our way up the trail back towards the farm, the sun set, and i began to feel a deeper anxiety: it was getting very cold very fast, we had no food, light, water, clothing or shelter, and how the hell were we going to find the place in the trail to head back through the trees to the farm?
fortunately, our friends were experiencing anxiety as well – they were out calling for us.
they had prepared a feast, which we enjoyed after taking our turns bathing in 30" diameter, 6" deep bowl of hot water. it was still an incredible bath!
and that cup of soup up on LiShan will always be one of the best meals of my life.Feb 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm #1477224
I had to spend the night on Mt. Fuji without any gear/shelter (a long story as to why) and ended up with two Korean students in the same predicament.
We found three full trash cans, emptied them on the ground, took out the bags, and put the trash back in the cans.
Together we did jumping jacks for half the night with our filthy trash bag ponchos on, laughing our a$ses off and playing charades to communicate. What a pair of good guys- I don't even know their names.Feb 11, 2009 at 6:57 pm #1477225
Joseph JacarusoBPL Member
I've been on the receiving end of "trail magic" on several occasions. Last year a family of a thru hiker arrived at a wayside in the Shenandoah's the same time I arrived with a group of Boy Scouts. We helped them carry coolers and boxes of food to the picnic area. They asked if we were thru hikers and we told them no and that we had food for lunch. We sat near-by watching the fest and talking with hikers that came to eat. We had met most of the hikers on the trail and all knew each other. After the thru hikers had all they could eat we were asked again and this time we accepted the invitation. The cold drinks and raw vegetables were especially welcome.
Two years ago I had the opportunity to be on the giving end. I shuttled a couple of friends to Springer Mountain for a section hike. I decided to accompany them into Hawk Mountain shelter for the night. I told them I would take care of food for supper and breakfast to lighten their packs. I cooked lasagna for supper and a pecan sweet roll for breakfast. When breakfast was gone I asked if either would like an omelet. Both declined but a woman staying in the shelter with a group asked what I would charge to make her one. My reply was “it’s not your friends that give you food; it’s your friends that help you eat your food and lighten your pack”. I mixed up the powdered eggs and milk with a little cheese and cooked it for her. The plate was passed around the shelter as her group shared the eggs. Two days later my friends saw the group of women taking a break on the side of the trail. The first question was “where is that guy that can cook anything”.
Being on the receiving end is always good but the giving end is even better.Feb 11, 2009 at 7:13 pm #1477232
I was on the receiving end of lots of trail magic last year hiking the PCT. One story involves another PCT hiker.
I had just descended from Mather Pass. I am probably the only hiker who absolutely hated climbing these passes and being way up there among the rocks and snow. But I did hate it and I wanted to go home.
In Le Conte Canyon I saw some guys camped by the side of the trail. I stopped to say hello and we talked a bit and all of I sudden I started crying like a big baby because I really wanted to just go home. So they asked me to sit down and talk.
One of the guys then pulled out a laminated chart of emotions and unmet needs and asked me to match up how I felt with what unmet needs I had. It was like I just happened to walk into a counselor just when I was feeling my worst.
I camped near to them and in the morning I decided I would leave the trail at Bishop Pass so I left him my food because he was running out (and so was I). (I did leave the trail and go home, but then I went back after a couple of days of rest.)
Later on, I searched on the Internet and found out the guy who had counseled me had fallen into Woods Creek the day before and had been trapped in the water for an hour. He never said anything about his real life tragedy while helping me with my stupid emotional outburst.Feb 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm #1477263
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
I had a backcountry ranger, Williams I think
was his name, invite us in to his cabin
in SEKI near sugarloaf dome. He fed us chocolate cake
and white wine. This near the end of a 21 day trip.
The 10 miles back to our tent that night seemed to fly
by what with the little alcohol and sugar buzz.Feb 12, 2009 at 9:57 am #1477358
jim baileyBPL Member
@florigenLocale: South East
For the past four years have been providing adult beverages to thru hikers and seasonal workers that work for the Appalachian Mountain Club in NH's White Mountains.
Nothing like putting a smile on a thirsty hikers face.
Now living in GA, plan on doing the same around Springer for folks down here either starting or finishing their hike.Feb 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm #1477395
Sharon BinghamBPL Member
Thank you guys so much for such an uplifting thread! Totally made my day :)Feb 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm #1477620
The "I hate it when other people…" thread has 131 posts.
The "It's nice when other people…" thread has 8 and seems to be generating far less interest so far.
I guess it's more fun to complain and fight on the internet??Feb 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm #1477621
After being lost in the jungle for 21 days the first human I saw was a beautiful naked blonde girl. after a brief introduction I explained where I was comming from and what I had been through. She smiled handed my a gigantic avacado she was carying said welcome to my valley then continued on her way. AliFeb 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm #1477628
Tony WongBPL Member
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I agree with you…I can not bother to read about the other thread that you are talking about.
I really have enjoyed this one.
The only small thing that I have done was while waiting with my friend for a ride to pick us up, a thru hiker had just finished the JMT, but had lost his wallet along the way.
We gave him some money for a beer and a hamburger.
He was greatful and said that he was willing to find us later tonight at our campsite to pay us back.
Just told him that after completing the JMT, he DESERVED a beer for sure and to just "pay it forward".
One of the wonderful things that I have experienced while backpacking is that one the trail people are at their best- they are friendly, helpful, and generous.
On one trip in Yosemite when Jeremy and I was doing a 50 mile loop from Glacier Point to Red Peak Pass and then back to Glacier Point I did a little social experiment on our last night as we camped in Little Yosemite Valley.
As were setup at our campsite with the mass of people who had dayhike up to overnight and then head up to the top of Half Dome, I told Jeremy that I would say hello to everyone that walked by and let's see how many would say hello back.
The results were less then impressive to say the least.
As I told Jeremy, "We are back in modern society again."
Compare this to just 1.5 to 2 miles from the Glacier Point Parking lot- we met a couple who were gray haired grandparents. They had old external frame packs and were returning from a multi day trip.
They greeted us with smiles and were more than happy to tell us where the water sources were up ahead and the good spots to look for when making camp that night at the lake we were shooting for.
Anyway, my point is that somehow when are a few miles away from civilization and way from the masses, life is good and so are the people you meet.
-TonyFeb 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm #1477659
Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Now for a positive note-
One of my favorite things while hiking is the smile and conversation from those walking the other way. As simple as this sounds this really helps lighten the load and knocks off some of the road dust I might be carrying.Feb 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm #1477672
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Back in the early 80's when I was on a combo backpacking/fishing trip. We were fishing on Middle Crabtree Lake and catching A LOT of fish. We met a couple down at the lower lake one afternoon. They had spent the whole summer leisurely working their way down the JMT and were now getting ready to head out over Cottonwood Pass. They were the 2 most contented people I can recall ever meeting. Anyway, we asked them if they'd like to share a meal of fresh fish. They both smiled and without a word, the guy fished a bottle of whiskey out of his pack. The long and the short of it is, we feasted well and sat around a campfire passing the bottle and telling tall tales long into the night. Next day we were both on our separate paths, but I shall never forget that evening. Oh yeah, the folks you meet in the backcountry.Feb 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm #1477757
@maynard76Locale: New England
I dont have an amazing story,
But Ive seen countless acts of kindness and camaraderie too numerous to mention.
Im not sure I would do as much for myself as others have done for me, like give me rides, invite me to family dinners, and even let me (a stranger) spend the night at their home.Feb 14, 2009 at 1:22 pm #1477840
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
I'm with Tad on this one. I love the conversations I have with others going the opposite direction.
Being that I am such an introvert (wink) I usually run and hide from others.Feb 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm #1477873
When I was hiking the PCT through the JMT section, I had been on the trail for 2 months by then. It really changes you to be out there like that. It seemed that the right thing to do when you saw another person was to stop and talk. Ask them their name (trailname) and share some stories.
When I came home I was taking a walk in my neighborhood and saw someone sitting on some steps. My first instinct was to stop and ask him his name. But I stopped myself because that's just not done in civilization. I felt so incredibly sad by this.
Anyway, I decided to get off the trail at Bishop Pass. The closer I got to the trailhead the more closed and less friendly people became. It went from stopping to chat with everyone to just saying hi to saying nothing at all to getting the feeling that people were scared of me to standing on the road trying to hitch a ride and seeing that people were actually trying to buzz me with their cars. Damn dirty hitchikers, I could hear them say. They were so aggressive and actively hateful of me.
It was shocking.
Lots of great trail magic and trail angels made up for all of that. People opened their homes to me. They left coolers of fruit and drinks. Gave me rides. And the people on the trail were so amazing. All so adventurous, so open with the possibilities of their lives, so determined to live life to the fullest. A trail is a magical thing that brings out the best in people.Feb 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm #1477993
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
I fell off an ice field in the Trinity Alps in the early 80's. My fall was stopped by a pile of rocks that left my left femur and knee a real mess. Because the mountain was so steep, I was able to lower myself down using one leg and two arms, and managed to crawl to the trail. I hadn't a clue what to do next, as it was a pretty remote area. As it happened, a group of researchers came along the trail a couple of hours late (turns out they were studying yellow-bellied sap suckers). They offered me: a)codeine; b) food and shelter; and c) A horse trek back to civilisation (they were bringing the horses in for a re-supply). I was the luckiest and most grateful person on the planet!
On another note, I once started out on a 5-day three pass trip, and passed some friends who were camping for the Coast-to-Coast race in NZ. The race is sponsored by a beer company, and they gave me a dozen cans of beer! being a poor student at the time, I naturally took them. Four hours later I stopped for lunch at a hut that was an easy walk in from the road. Two young lads came along shorlty after, puffing and panting and collapsing from the 'tortuous' walk in. Yes, it was their first ever hiking trip. As I left the hut to go on up to the pass, I unhitched half a dozen of the beer cans and gave them to the lads. The look on their face was priceless!!!!Feb 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm #1478111
Wow, are you lucky those people came by with beer and codeine!
One time my boyfriend and I were hiking in our local backcountry. There is a trail that is a long and arduous roadwalk for about 10 miles and then about 6 miles on a really remote and beautiful trail to a spring and campsite.
When we finally arrived at our campsite, we see these two guys with horses and coolers full of beer. They offered us some beer. The two of them had way more beer than anybody could drink. When we asked them why they brought so much beer, their answer, as they pointed to the horses, was "because we can."
We accepted the beer gratefully, hung around their campfire for a while, got some great stories of some of the local trails and made some new friends.Feb 15, 2009 at 9:17 pm #1478128
Jeremy PendreyBPL Member
Craig: Your bodhidharma avatar is sure perfect for this thread. Thanks for starting it.
I also told this story in my PCT-Barker Pass to Sierra City photo essay I put up yesterday, but I'll tell it again.
I had hiked 4 days out of a 5 day section hike along the PCT and camped at Jackson Meadows Reservoir a dozen or so miles south of Sierra City. I met a father and son, Jorgen and Derek, who were on a fishing trip. I sauntered up and asked if I could buy a beer, which I desperately wanted. They gave me one, then another, on them. They invited me to stay for dinner. They had fish and Derek owns a catering company, so all the other food they had was great. I had appetizers, politely declined dinner because I didn't want to impose, then went back to my camp and had my own dinner (didn't want to carry it the next day either). They had invited me to come back later, so I did, and rejoined them for more food and cocktails and a warm campfire and good conversation that lasted for hours before I finally sauntered back to my bivy for the night. Having their company added a lot to the trip overall.
So, bottom line, It's really cool when you've been alone for a few days when others invite you into their space and treat you well.Feb 16, 2009 at 10:54 am #1478228
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
I have also been the recipient of fresh venison, salmon and trout on various occasions when stopping in the same place as hunters and fishers. One woman gave me 5 big packets of freeze-dried meals that she no longer wanted to carry. Although I didn't need the food, it was nice to try something new for a change.
On the flip side, there was one trip a few years ago where we somehow eneded up carrying two 2-person tents for the two of us. We stopped the second night at a high tarn, and this woman came stumbling by exhausted from a 12 hour epic *adventure*. She was planning on making it to the hut 600 metres below, so hadn't brought any accomodation with her. Imagine what she must have thought when we said "You can stay here tonight. We have a spare tent you can use"!Feb 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm #1478479
Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
This may not have happened in the backcountry but it applies.
A forum member was selling a Poncho/tarp on gear swap for $50. I have a scout who's Dad passed away years ago and he has been making it on his own (with mom's help).
I thought he could use the poncho so I asked him about it. He said he could do $35. So I offered $35 for the scout but the seller (understandably) said he was firm on the $50.
Well a forum member stepped up and said he'd kick in the additional $15 for the scout, so the deal was done.
This kind of thing makes living life so much easier!
Again thank you for your generosity. May God bless your Home/Boat.Feb 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm #1478522
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
It is funny that the farther in you are the less people you see yet the friendlier they are.
Here is my favorite “recipient of a good deed” story I have.
A few years ago my brother-in-law Dave and I hiked from Death Valley to Mt Whitney. I had pre-scouted the route the week before and found where I was going to bury water caches. The day before the trip I picked up my brother Craig and we went and made all the caches including a big one (3 gallons) for night # 3 buried near the top of a huge wash that I marked with a big rock. After meeting Dave, Craig took my truck back to his place.
At the end of the third day, and 74 miles in, we were beat. High heat and long days took their toll. When we got to the wash I found my rock marker and saw with a sinking feeling in my gut that the dirt was disturbed where I had carefully made it smooth and natural looking. As I started digging I found a piece of shopping bag close to the surface. It said “Have fun” on it. Fearing that someone had taken or messed with our water Dave was white faced as I kept digging. Next I hit a plastic shopping bag. Wha…?
I pulled it out and saw the tops of our water jugs. The bag contained two bottles of Zima. I correctly guessed that my brother had come back to the easiest remembered location and left them for us. You would not believe how good those ground temp drinks tasted and felt. To this day Dave has a fondness for Craig. (I always have been fond of my little bro)Feb 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm #1478580
Wow. Thanks so much for this thread! I feel a bit foolish for having posted in the "other" thread.
I just this past long weekend had a positive encounter with some "locals" in the Missouri Ozarks. I had backpacked for three days and needed to cross the Current River, which was in receeding flood. I had been worrying the whole time about how I was going to cross, since the temps were in the 20s and 30s F, the flow was high, and I was nearly out of food. Neither swimming across or walking back without food was very appealing. Just as I arrived at the crossing, a couple of local "redneck" fishermen appeared with a boat and motor. I have a general perception that the locals don't think very highly of backpackers, but these guys couldn't have been nicer. They ferried me across and seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. It restored my faith in the goodness of people!
Great thread!Feb 19, 2009 at 8:45 am #1478986
Reading all these cool stories makes me realize that hiking is about the best way to restore one's faith in humankind.Feb 19, 2009 at 10:06 am #1479014
Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Once four of us went on an overnight trip to a lean-to in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It was 2-Jan and unseasonably warm, but the nights were around freezing. The lean-to is a few miles in, and we built a fire in the fireplace, just for fun.
All of a sudden out of the darkness we heard a voice from the other side of the ravine…an older woman had been out dayhiking past dark, fell, lost her only pair of glasses, and had sprained her ankle. She was moving slowly, and could not make out the trail very well (she had a flashlight). She saw the fire and heard our voices, so she headed for us. She intended to walk out that evening, but after my wife walked with her for a while she convinced her there was no way and she came back to the lean-to.
Turns out she had a sleeping bag and pad, but no shelter, and no food left (if she hadn't had a sleeping bag we could have opened one of ours up and two could have slept under one bag, using it as a quilt).
We fed her and walked with her the next morning to a major trail junction a short distance from the road. By then she was moving slowly but steadily. She made it to the road and her husband picked her up (we gave her our phone number and insisted she call to let us know she got back ok).
I always wonder what would have happened if we had not been there? I sometimes wonder why we were there that particular evening…
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