The day did not look very promising at first.
It was a cold drizzly December morning in the Northeastern US. My son and I gathered our provisions for our hike with his scout troop. We did think for a minute about skipping the outing and going back to our cozy warm beds. But it was just a passing thought. This was our first opportunity to hike on the Appalachian trail (aka the “A.T.”). I’ve always wanted to experience it, even if only for one day.
Along with our other provisions, we packed a few extra 2-litre bottles of water. Water is heavy and it’s more work to carry the extra weight in a backpack. But the general thinking is that it’s a good idea to have a little too much water rather than not enough.
A few hours into our hike and stopped to cook lunch on a nice vista overlooking the valley. We ate snacks while preparing the soup, hot dogs and hot chocolate. As we were cleaning up a little while later, we realized that we had an extra 2-litre bottle of water. Typically, we would dump this out as it would make the load just a little lighter on the homeward bound leg. We decided we would rest for a few minutes first, then dump the water and be on our way.
Right about at that moment, we saw a solitary figure emerge from the forest trail. It was a male hiker; a nice man in his mid 50’s. He was burly and carried a large pack on his back. Stopping a few yards from us, he took his pack off to rest. We greeted each other and started to chat. He explained that he was spending a few weeks on the trail and looking to get in a long hike on that day.
“Would you happen to have a little water?” he asked.
“I’ve got a number of miles yet to go today and I’m running low at the moment”
We explained that he was in luck. It just so happened that we had enough to give him a long drink and fill both of his other empty bottles as well.
“Thank you!” he stated (and looked a little relieved).
As he finished a long drink from his bottle, I saw a slight smile on his face.
He then uttered “Trail Magic!” just loud enough that I could hear it.
“Trail magic?” I asked.
He explained that this is a term coined by hikers on the A.T. As the Appalachian Trial Conservancy explains, it describes “an unexpected occurrence that lifts a hiker’s spirits and inspires awe or gratitude. ‘Trail magic’ may be as simple as being offered a candy bar by a passing hiker or spotting an elusive species of wildlife.”
“It has happened to me before, and I appreciate it every time. Thank you so much” he stated as he prepared his pack to continue on.
“You’re very welcome. We are happy to help” I replied.
As I walked back to the car, I started wondering if “trail magic” should be limited only to A.T. hikes.
I started imagining that I can try make it happen in the every day “trails” of life as well.
So that is what I will try to do.