Trip Report: Appalachian Trail Magic
The week prior to taking off for Trail Magic was full of preparation – planning the menus for what we would serve for Trail Magic, trying to figure out how much food to get, hitting the stores and picking up supplies, borrowing coolers, cleaning and packing the bus, and packing our own bags. By the time we departed on Friday it was a relief – as all the hard work for the trip had already been completed.
Base Camp bus was heavy as she pulled out of Columbus – with 4 coolers, 5 cases of beer donated by local B&B Beverage company and Devils Backbone Brewery, food, camping supplies, and smiling faces, all ready for the journey north. It was a little over a 5 hour drive by the time we arrived at Standing Indian Campground – the place we would lay our heads for the next few nights. After setting up camp (which at this point is very quick) we loaded back up on the bus and headed down into Franklin, North Carolina – to visit the local outfitter – Outdoor 76, and grab some dinner and listen to the music at the Lazy Hiker Brewery.
Saturday morning came early, as we all woke up and headed straight onto the bus to travel the dirt forest service roads up past Standing Indian mountain, and all most all the way up to the top of Albert Mountain, where we would set up for the day. We pulled into a spot where the Appalachian Trail is just feet away from the road and proceeded to try and set up as quickly as possible. The grill and stoves were fired up and we were ready when the first hikers came by – Craig and Lotta. It was a joy to cook them breakfast of eggs, sausage, cheddar grits, fruit and hot chocolate. Lotta is from Sweden, and she enjoyed eating grits for the very first time. After they left, it was a constant flow of people, such as a father/daughter duo, friends and tail mates.
Around 11 we switched to lunch – which was a spread of cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, onions and all the fixings, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon, oranges and bananas. Chips, popsicles, cold beer and sodas, and delicious desserts prepared by our ladies. (and Thank you Andrea for sending a bag of homebred desserts up – they were enjoyed by all!).
The chairs around the bus were always filled – and we had the pleasure of meeting just a few of the amazing people. Our Goal Zero YETI worked perfect to allow everyone to charge up their phones, and power our pot of hot boiled peanuts – which were introduced to the hikers that are not from the south.
Around 4pm we packed up the bus and headed out on the trail ourselves – to hike to the fire tower atop Albert Mountain. The climb was short but steep, and we were treated to 360 degree views atop the tower. The sun was shining, our hearts were full and our eyes were scanning, with mountains as far as we could see. We soaked it up, then headed back to the Base Camp Bus to make the journey back down the mountain – this time with empty coolers but bags of trash.
We spent our evening around the campfire, with reflections of all the wonderful people we met throughout the day. Each of them has a story and a reason for hitting the trail. For some it is therapy, for others recovery. Some was for a shared bonding time, and others for personal reflection. Each of them touched our hearts and we were thankful to provide a hot meal, a cold drink and a place to rest, even if it was just for a short period of time.
Sunday morning we awoke to the pitter patter of raindrops on our tents, and we packed up as quickly as we set up. We had planned on picking up a crew of hikers at the road crossing and shuttling them into town. We swung into Winding Stair Gap early to find Craig and Lotta – it was wonderful to see them again and shuttle them into town, then headed back up to pick up another group, as many were going into Franklin to resupply, a few to visit the ER for injuries, and all to shower and get refreshed before heading north again.
The intention of the weekend was to give back to the Appalachian Trail, to provide for hikers as they headed north, but it was more than that. Our hearts were touched with their stories, and we were filled with love from the amazing people to make the Appalachian Trail a truly magical and incredible place for all.