Monday, May 15, 2017

Back On The Hike Again: Magic In The Woods

There is something about being in the woods for a while that changes you. My brother Paul says he has determined that it takes 3 nights sleeping on the trail before you start feeling different. It is truly something. Your whole world has become this pack on your back that contains everything, and your foot putting one in front of the other. Soon after I got back home, I was almost immediately nostalgic for the time when the one mess I had to figure out was where my fork was and how far to the next water source. Some time after that third night, the outside world started slipping away. I can still remember one day on top of a mountain ridge, coming upon piles of rocks. Large piles created by humans I assume, but how long ago, I can't imagine. What blew my mind was that some army of people decided to do this in a place where it was a good 7 mile hike to anything else. Was it from the Civil War? Did some farmer clear this forest and then try to farm it? I tried to imagine how many people and how many hours it would take, and how much food you'd need to have to do it....or it was just magic?

Then there was the time, I stopped for no particular reason and put my camera down on the ground and realized it was sitting on some pink stuff, that on further examination turned out to be Easter basket grass....the pink plastic stuff the bunny puts in our kids Easter baskets...and this was way out in the middle of did that get here and why? Then my gaze wavered a bit and I suddenly saw that there was a lot more of it around. My first thought was, I've gone trail crazy and next I will be seeing the Easter bunny himself hopping down the trail. My brother, who is much more worldly just ventured "who cares? It's just Easter grass." He is very much of this world, except when it comes to going to a Psychic to find out what numbers to play in Vegas..

Anyway, there is a kind of magic on the trail that CAN be explained and that is often referred to as Trail Magic. These are presents left on the trail by people referred to as Trail Angels..If you ever have the good fortune to receive one of these magic gifts, you will be smiling just like I was in the photo above. Somebody installed a camp chair by a stream, along with other gifts and I made extra sure I spent about 15 minutes in that chair. People told me stories of ice chests full of beer, cokes, and one guy that even hiked up to a shelter with 37 hamburgers, and cooked them for anybody that showed up at the try to imagine hiking 12 miles with a 40 pound pack, looking forward to freeze-dried mush for supper and having an angel hand you a fresh-cook campfire burger....

My favorite was a plastic bag full of bananas that Paul found after we crossed a bridge. I have to say that was the best damned banana I ever had in my whole life. I was talking about it all day long after that (I did mention the trail crazy stuff, right?).  I almost never found out what was in the other bag in the photo above.
We were sitting in a shelter a few nights later, talking with the other hikers about great things that had happened to us and I of course, shared my story about the world's most awesome banana. One of the guys said, "yeah those bananas were really good, but those damn brownies in the other bag were the bomb!"
I slowly turned towards Paul and said "Brownies?" Paul replied that he thought that we were trying to eat healthy and that chocolate hurt his tummy, so he never mentioned them to me. I'm still hoping to forget about this, but it seemed like every hiker we said more than 3 words to on the rest of the trip had enjoyed one of those brownies. ...

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