Kindness is Being a Trail Angel: Giving Away Food at PCT Trail Heads

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This post is part of #Write31Days where bloggers write every day in October on one topic. I am writing about Acts of Kindness, random and otherwise. It will be interesting to note how I am different and/or how my community is different.


What do the following names have in common: Opera, Ghost Walker, Night Crawler, NOBO Lobo, Rocky, Tapeworm, Whippet?

Are they roller coaster rides? Movie titles? Diseases? Nick names for the Seven Dwarves?

None of the above. These are the trail names of Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers, my daughter and I met Friday, June 29th at the Meiss Trailhead. This trailhead is 30 minutes west (by car) of South Lake Tahoe. It takes the hikers (on average) two months of hiking from Mexico to Meiss trailhead.

This summer my daughter and I planned to camp once a month. I slept in the car (or on a cot) while Elizabeth slept in an ultra-lightweight, easy-to-erect tent. She is preparing for her own thru-hike on the PCT.

Wood’s Lake was our June destination. For ease, we decided to bring only ready-to-eat food, no cooking necessary. Additionally, we filled our trunk with food not for us: 50 individual bags of chips, 50 individual packages of cookies, a grocery bag full of plums fresh from a friend’s tree, and a cooler full of watermelon slices.

Trail magic (also defined as random acts of kindness), the PCT, and camping merged quite nicely that June weekend.

While eating Friday’s breakfast (green smoothies made at home), Elizabeth and I went over our PCT Trail Magic strategy for the Meiss trailhead parking lot (a few car-minutes away). Yes, a parking lot!  The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Meiss parking lot which leads into Tahoe, 12 miles north, where hikers go off-trail to get their next batch of supplies.

The PCT is 2,650 miles long. The southern terminus is Campo, CA (25 feet from the US-Mexican border). The northern terminus is Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia (near the US-Canadian border eight miles into Canada). 90% of thru-hikers go north to south. If northbound (NOBO) hikers plan to finish in Canada before the snow arrives, they need to reach Tahoe by July 4th. It takes the hikers five-six months to traverse the trail. There are no official stats on how many hike the PCT yearly.

We launched our plan by displaying chips, cookies, and fruit on the asphalt behind my car. A green, poster board sign, held up by twin trekking poles, nestled in the car’s open trunk. The sign declared, “Trail Magic for PCT Hikers.”

We sat in camping chairs and waited for them. Soon we spied a lone man wearing a large backpack who used one trekking pole in order to reduce the impact on his tired legs.

“Are you hungry?,” my daughter asked. “We have food, if you are.”

The answer, this time and every time, was, “I am always hungry! Thanks.”

The Oreo and Nutter Butter cookies went fast. Frito Lay chips were preferred over the other chips. The FAVE food, however, was the fruit. We experienced the joy one hiker had when she cautiously bit into her very FIRST plum EVER. As juice dripped down her cheek, she reached into the bag for another one.

One hiker said as she slurped on an ice-cold, triangle slice of watermelon, “Mile after mile, I’ve been dreaming about watermelon. And here you have some. Dreams do come true!” “Thanks for this Trail Magic,” another piped in.

We learned that it had been 400 miles since they received any Trail Magic. Trail Magic can be food, drink, rides, or meaningful mementos like a pin that commemorates the year of the hike. In that parking lot, we were blessed for being a Trail Angel, one who gives out Trail Magic.

We stayed for four hours serving 32 hikers. They represented places such as Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Central America, Australia, and Hungary. Rocky, the 20-something from Hungary, is the first woman from her country to hike the PCT.

 “Your one random act of kindness may not change the world but it might make a difference in the life of someone today” ― Maria Koszler

Performing this small, random act of kindness, (RAK), was rewarding. We met many people doing something amazing. Being around people who are accomplishing a dream motivates me to do the same. Talking with folks from all over the world and from different walks of life, demonstrated how alike we are and that friendliness is a common denominator.

I will do this again in 2019. Why? Doing RAK’s is one way I can spread kindness in a world that is struggling. My daughter and I plan to give Trail Magic 200 miles south of the Meiss trailhead. I’d like to add soda, hand sanitizer, and chocolate to our initial repertoire (chips, cookies and fruit). Elizabeth is making up her own list of things to add.

Happy Trails to Rocky and the others that we met that day. I wish them Godspeed as they conquer the second half of this 2,650 mile trek.



Your Turn . . . Have you ever given or received trail magic? . . . If yes, in your opinion, what is the best item to give/receive? . . . Are you interested in doing this act of kindness? Some of my friends want to join me next summer.

You can practice being kind by leaving me a comment. 

My Landing Page for This series . . . Scattering Kindness: A 31 Day Adventure.  Please leave me an idea or two that I can add to my acts of kindness list. The idea can be intentional or random.

Go here for yesterday’s post: Kindness is Helping a Teacher With Classroom Supplies

Previous #Write31Days Topics

Thanks go to Elizabeth Symington for making my #Write31Days button and basic graphic for the kindness quotes. Elizabeth is writing a 31 days series on Summer of Service in Yosemite.

Entry filed under: Random acts of kindness. Tags: , , , , , .

Kindness is Helping a Teacher with Classroom Supplies Kindness is Playing Nicely on Social Media

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary K. Hill  |  . at .

    Great idea to help hikers and show kindness. I can’t wait to see other ideas in the series.


  • 2. wendyj59  |  . at .

    What a lovely thing to do and a nice way to spend time with your daughter.


  • 3. sharybary  |  . at .

    I look forward to reading your post everyday. You are widening my horizons and making me think of things I would never have thought of. I never have heard of Trail Magic but I can just imagine the blessing that you were to these people.


  • […] Kindness is Being a Trail Angel: Giving Away Food At Trailheads […]



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