We were walking into Deep Gap, enjoying the explosion of spring across the forest floor, when some thicker leaved-plants caught my eye. “I’m not sure, but I think those are ramps,” I said, and an hour later, we were getting an education on ramps – a wild food with an onion flavor – from Rowmin Goat, a 1981 thru-hiker who happened to be at that gap gathering ramps to take home to Florida. They went into our cookpot that night.
The trail provides the most unexpected things. To me, this is the true trail magic – the serendipity of things we find and things that happen – of the AT. Along our walk thus far, we’ve had the generous trail magic – in the form of unexpected food and treats – of former thru-hikers like Buzz, Strawhat, Moondoggie, and Apple. But we’ve also had the trail provide, a blessing to hikers in need.
Such as the day we wanted to get close enough to Fontana to enjoy the motel room we knew we had coming the next day, so we pressed on past a shelter after cooking dinner, hoping to find a quiet place to tent. It didn’t look good for the first hour. We rock-hopped and climbed mountaintops, finding views but no level ground. And the trail provided. Coming down a hill, we found two beautiful benches created by trail maintainers – the only benches we’ve seen along the AT – with a spot just big enough for our tent on the other side of the trail. It was in a small gap not mentioned in our guidebook, called “Hog Back Gap.”
“I take you to the finest places,” said John, after we’d made camp. And we laughed. It was just what we needed.