Mad Tom Notch 6 - August 9 2019
Yesterday, during Trail Magic a very talkative hiker, a recently opened hiker hostel, a stealth camp site and two pieces of watermelon conspired to put me in the right place at the right time to perform the most amazing piece of Trail Magic yet.
The sun had barely risen as I left town heading east to my usual Trail Magic site. There was a lot of fog resulting from unusually cold temperatures. After a quick stop in Manchester Center to pick up donuts I arrive in the familiar parking lot and set up camp. The only foreign accent detected the entire day turned out to be from Denmark. By the end of the day twenty four weary hikers and two dogs had been served the usual treats.
In mid afternoon a very talkative older hiker showed up. He spent a lot of time talking about a new hiker hostel that had recently opened five miles south of where we were. I made some notes and planned on stopping by on my way home to check it out and get some business cards to pass out at the next Trail Magic. The hiker was having trouble deciding how far he wanted to go since he was tired and the time was getting late. There is a small campsite a few feet off the trail just north of the road, I suggested he stay there. He pretty much decided to do the five miles to the next shelter and wandered off.
Around 4:30 I wandered over to the trail for a a short hike. As I neared the trail a voice yelled out “I decided to stay here”. It was the talkative undecided hiker who had left an hour or so earlier. We chatted as he put up his tent and then he helped me break camp and load the car faster than ever before.
Ten minutes or so later I pulled into the Pinnacle Hostel. While heading toward the office someone behind me yelled "We know you!" It was two watermelon craving hikers from a few hours earlier who had just arrived at the hostel. We chatted a bit while they munched on the two leftover pieces of watermelon. After that the hostel owner said he had not had time to get business cards yet but was happy to show me around the place.
So, the talkative hiker who told me about the hostel and later helped get me on the road home a bit quicker than usual, two watermelon loving hikers I had met before and the hostel tour all made for perfect timing...
Just a two tenths of a mile from the new hostel is a parking lot where the trail crosses highway 11/30. I always stop there to see if there are any hikers to feed. Approaching the entrance to the parking lot I see a young scruffy looking hiker (all long distance hikers are scruffy looking). I stopped to see if he wanted a ride into town. He happily accepted. Once we got moving I asked where he wanted to be let off. He replied the bus station would be good but anywhere in downtown Manchester Center would be fine. Being the nosy type I asked where he was taking the bus to. His reply was "Bennington". I go right by Bennington on my way home. I ask where in Benning and he says he's headed to the Appalachian Trail a few miles east of town. A gigantic lightbulb blinks on above my head! I’ve been to that spot and hiked the trail around there so knew exactly where to take him. He had been worried he might not get there until after dark resulting in having to hike to the first shelter in the dark.
He was more than happy to skip the bus and the extra hours it would entail. So we headed south to Bennington. Along the way he explained he had left his car at the parking lot where we met with plans to take the bus south, hitchhike to the trail and then hike north back to his car. More conversation revealed he is an avid hiker who had recently started a new job in Albany. Same city I live in. Thirty minutes after we met he was at the trail head and on his way with plenty of daylight left to make it to the shelter.
I am truly amazed at how the events of the day put me and him at the same place at the same time. Had I arrived a few minutes earlier or later he would have gotten a ride from someone else who would have taken him a the bus station.
Trail magic can be amazing.