When Matt and I were hiking on Saturday we made a stop at the Thistle Hill Shelter. We had already had lunch at the Cloudland Shelter but there was no shelter book there and I always like to read and sign the book.
The Thistle Hill Shelter did not appear on my map but that may be because my map is from 1995! I tried to buy a new guidebook and map set in Hanover but the book store was out and wasn't planning to reorder because a new edition is in the works.
But, about trail magic. There were three people at the shelter when we arrived (a fourth, a southbounder arrived soon after we did). One hiker, a northbounder, was staying for a few days because he injured his toe. The other two, Pippi and Hamburgler, were just finishing up lunch. They told Matt and me that they were planning a 23 mile day because they wanted to get to Hanover. They still had about 14 miles to go which seemed like a lot to do before dark. We discussed the various services available in Hanover. They were hoping to find something indoors because rain was forecast again (it had rained heavily the previous day). Matt offered the use of his guest room if they couldn't find an indoor place elsewhere. They were grateful and said they would consider it.
Matt and I set off for West Hartford about five miles further north. We knew that Pippi and Hamburgler would be passing us because they were through hikers and much stronger than I am. Indeed they did come by not too long after we left the shelter. And, it did rain, rather heavily. There are a lot of open meadows on the trail in this section--between Route 12 and Route 14 in eastern Vermont--so we were not protected by the tree canopy. When we arrived in West Hartford we found Hamburgler and Pippi in the general store enjoying hot sandwiches. Matt and I bought ice cream and sat down to wait for DH to pick us up.
DH came along in about ten minutes and got an ice cream himself. I could see that Pippi and Hamburgler were thinking hard about the nine additional hiking miles to Hanover. We suggested they drive in with us, find a spot indoors, and then meet us again in the morning so we could drive them back to West Hartford. They thought for a few minutes and agreed that would be a plan.
We dropped them off in Hanover and they set off for a fraternity house that is known to put up four through hikers every night. Matt reminded them that they could crash at his place if the fraternity was full.
DH and I went back to the campground where our tent had dried out enough for us to sleep in it. Matt jumped on his bike and rode home.
This morning we decided we should have breakfast at Lou's in downtown Hanover. It's the place where all the through hikers go to get a big meal when they arrive in town. We had a great breakfast and spent some time reading the NY Times. Just as we left the restaurant my cell phone rang. It was Pippi. They did sleep at the fraternity house and were just about ready to go back to the trail. We took them to the Hanover Outfitter where they left their packs and drove them back to West Hartford leaving them at the general store.
We spent the morning doing errands and went back into Hanover for a late lunch. There on the street were Pippi and Hamburgler. They had finished the nine miles and were picking up their packs and supplies to continue on to Katahdin.
What a great couple! And, what a pleasure to be able to deliver some trail magic. Through hikers really appreciate it whether it's cookies left in a cooler by the side of the trail, a drive into town, a chance to sleep for free in someone's home. All of these things are a treat for hikers who only have their packs and their feet.
Pippi and Hamburgler assured us they would pay our kindness forward and I know they will. And, it gave me great pleasure to provide some trail magic myself.