MONSON, Maine — For thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, there is a phenomenon known as “trail magic.” As a rule of serendipity, it arrives when it is most needed, when the hikers are beat, downtrodden, lonely, hungry. When the weight of their pack and the miles ahead of them are crushing their will. That’s when trail magic happens.
Maybe they turn a corner in a remote section of woods and find a cooler, just sitting there on the path, filled with Coca-Cola and beer and sweets and fresh fruit. It is a sign of respect from a stranger, a nod of appreciation for this grand thing the hikers are attempting to accomplish — to walk the entire 2,184-mile trail from Georgia to Maine in one year. Trail magic regularly reduces hardened woodsmen to tears.