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April 6, 2004

Trail Magic...

Dad and Ruth called tonight near Low Gap Shelter1, where they were camped for the night. They hiked in gorgeous weather - beautiful views, 50-60°F temperatures - they couldn't say enough about what a fabulous day it was.

April 5510.6 miles

Hiking Health

On the health front, things are much improved. The outfitter in Neel's Gap2 took good care of our hikers. Dad is set with some new insoles to help his knees (which are now only slightly achy thanks to a day off), and Ruth has new boots! Apparently her previous pair were a bit too snug - hence, blisters.

New Vocabulary

There are two parts of the AT experience that are new to us (the loyal followers) this week:

  • First, Dad and Ruth have chosen their Trail Names3: Oxymoron and Maine Dish, respectively.
  • Second is a thing known in AT lore as Trail Magic4; it's not about spells and hocus pocus - it's more like serendipity. Things happen around the trail. People practice random acts of kindness towards hikers even if they've never hiked the AT themselves.

Trail Magic

Yesterday, Dad and Ruth went to a barbeque hosted by some of the folk that work at the outfitters (I wish I knew who, but Dad didn't say and I forgot to ask). They invited (and transported) Dad, Ruth, and a bunch of other hikers to their home and served up burgers, beer, and mashed potatoes (with buttrub5 and butter) that Dad could not stop raving about.

On their first day hiking, they met the Cunninghams - brothers that had a Winnebago or some type of motorhome or something along the gravel road that intersects Hightower Gap6 (I think). As Dad retold it, he and Ruth were quickly running out of steam when they crossed paths with these brothers (early afternoonish). The Cunninghams took Dad and Ruth into their RV and set them up with some hot coffee and hot chicken-pot-pie! Dad said the hot food and about an hour of rest were a tremendous help, and revved their engines for the rest of the day.

They've met quite a few hikers, but mentioned "Loon" and "Spot" in particular. Loon is from Minnesota, but taught at both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. According to Dad, Loon is now hiking full time (must be nice). ;-)

For any of you that are worried, I'd lay your fears to rest. Before we hung up, Dad said, "You and Chris have to do this... it's just been amazing."


1 Low Gap Shelter (3010 ft) - 41.3

2 Mountain Crossings @ Walasi-Yi

3 Walking the AT: Trail Names

4 Walking the AT: Trail Magic, Thru-hiking the AT: Magic along the way

5 Buttrub BBQ Seasoning

6 Hightower Gap (2854 ft) - 8.1 miles

Posted by erin . Tuesday, 6 Apr 2004 . 12:27 AM, MDT .


  1. It all sounds wonderful. Erin & Chris you are doing a great job keeping everyone informed. I loved the pictures. Do they have a digital camera? Tell them we are thinking about them.

    Posted by meg . Tuesday, 6 Apr 2004 . 10:51 AM, MDT . #
  2. Yes. Ruth opted for one digital camera instead of disposables. She wanted to have quality pictures of the view when she was all done. She has a few memory sticks so she can keep clicking while other sticks are in the mail.

    Posted by Erin . Thursday, 8 Apr 2004 . 01:21 AM, MDT . #