I woke up knowing the only water sources would be streams, no springs. I don't usually treat the water I drink because I plan my sources from spring to spring, but it looked like I would have to rely on frothy, root beer-like streams all day. The day was looking bleak.
And then out of the heavens, trail magic came from all directions. Trail magic, for those of you who are confused, is any unexpected act of kindness towards a hiker. Most of the time, it's in the form of cold drinks or food or a ride into town. In Georgia, I was spoiled with it, almost getting to the point where I was expecting it at every road crossing. But the more north I've gotten, the more rare magic has become.
I was out of water when I hit my first road crossing and sure enough, there was a cooler full of cold water jugs next to the trail. "The trail provides" seems to be a saying that I have been experiencing a lot lately, and this water was there when I needed it the most. I filled up 2 liters and drank another liter, feeling refreshed and no longer dizzy from dehydration.
8 miles further down the Trail and I had sweated out all the water I had consumed and was miserable and slightly cranky, coming down Arden Mtn. Running low on fluids, I came down to Arden Valley Road to a pickup truck with three guys standing around it. I gave a friendly wave and hello, and took off my pack 20 feet away. I wiped away the sweat from my forehead and chugged the last of my now warm water, trying to look as desparate as possible. I could see they had powerades, but they weren't offering me any. A couple minutes later, and I reluctantly threw my pack over my shoulders and trudged away, dragging my poles on the road behind me.
I had about a half-mile road walk before I entered Harriman State Park and I took it as slow as possible, out of water and melting on the pavement. And then out of nowhere comes the black pickup, pulling up next to me, waking me up from my zombie-like death march. "You walked past some magic man!" yelled the driver. I perked up immediately, "I didn't know what was going on back there, haha".
His name is Patty O and he thru-hiked in 2000. He said he's been doing magic ever since and has met thousands of hikers over the years. He said he's writing a book on the Trail and that he's going to get every single person he's met in there somehow - he's that kind of guy. He made you feel as if you're the only person that mattered. He gave me a cup of ice and a 32 oz powerade - I couldn't have imagined a more perfect drink.
I hiked another 4 or 5 miles to the Fingerboard Shelter, where Patty O had driven up and hiked a mile in for more magic. I finished the night off with frozen lemonade and frozen iced tea with a box of chocalate donuts - it was heaven. We talked for hours, exchanging stories about the people we've met and our experiences - he was full of them. He's going to be in Vermont in a few weeks, doing what he dubs "the best trail magic imaginable". He hinted at what it would be, "Think music blaring, homemade pizzas, beer-battered brats, the best chocolate milk you can buy, beers, sodas, and trail bombs." Not sure if Ill be able to handle his "trail bombs", haha, but I gave him my number so he can text me when he's up there.
His good hiking friend, Crazy Horse, says "Patty O, you're the best trail angel to have ever lived" and Patty O's response is, "angels aren't even alive man! What a horrible name for it." But I'd have to agree with Crazy Horse - thanks for everything Patty O.
I'm at Hessian Lake in Bear Mountain State Park, charging up the phone and letting the temperature cool off a bit. New York has been surprisingly very beautiful, but extremely tough, too, so I haven't really had an opporunity to enjoy any of it through all the cursing. But Connecticut in a few days! On to hike a few more miles tonight.
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