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  1. #1
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Default ATC Says Trail Magic is Bad for the Trail

    I'm a member of the ATC, so I get their quarterly journal. I wish I could publish a link to their Summer 2017 article "Practical Trail Magic" but it does not appear to be online. The crux of the article is trailhead trail magic (TM) and TM held in the woods just off the trail is bad for the trail. Their argument is it creates hiker bubbles and needlessly strains the trail environment in other ways, too.

    I'm a LASHer having done 500 miles last year and this year (2017). I've got to say that nothing lifts my spirits and those of other hikers (as I have observed) more than trail magic. I tend to lose a lot of weight, so the food free-for-all at these TM's is a big help.

    The ATC says the TM should be held in trail towns, but really, how many hikers would go that far out of their way without some knowledge of what a TM entails? In other words, how would you feel going a couple of miles out of your way for coffee and a donut as opposed to a full on TM with hot dogs, hambugers, sweets, etc?

    So, what's my point? I'm just curious about what other through hikers and LASHers think about the ATC's concerns and how it relates to them as a long distance hiker.
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    You wont like my opinion.

    Nothing wrong with trail magic

    Planned food for hikers on vacation, isnt magic
    Its stupid
    Done by people that want to "buy friends" or notoriety

    Its bad for trails everywhere, and its spilled over to the point idiots want to do it in middle of sierra, have party.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    I'm a member of the ATC, so I get their quarterly journal. I wish I could publish a link to their Summer 2017 article "Practical Trail Magic" but it does not appear to be online. The crux of the article is trailhead trail magic (TM) and TM held in the woods just off the trail is bad for the trail. Their argument is it creates hiker bubbles and needlessly strains the trail environment in other ways, too.

    I'm a LASHer having done 500 miles last year and this year (2017). I've got to say that nothing lifts my spirits and those of other hikers (as I have observed) more than trail magic. I tend to lose a lot of weight, so the food free-for-all at these TM's is a big help.

    The ATC says the TM should be held in trail towns, but really, how many hikers would go that far out of their way without some knowledge of what a TM entails? In other words, how would you feel going a couple of miles out of your way for coffee and a donut as opposed to a full on TM with hot dogs, hambugers, sweets, etc?

    So, what's my point? I'm just curious about what other through hikers and LASHers think about the ATC's concerns and how it relates to them as a long distance hiker.
    i think anyone out on any sort of hike who needs someone to throw them a spontaneous party on the trail to "lift their spirits" needs to reflect that hiking is voluntary and that perhaps, if theyd rather be doing something else, they should go do it. i mean seriously we arent soldiers marching off to fight the nazis or something.

    unrelated, i think "trail towns" are, or at least should be, towns that are literally on the trail. i agree with what youre saying about venturing to one far off the trail, but i'm not going to one of those even if there is a party going on.

    if there has to be parties, the numerous towns that are indeed literally on the trail seem like a good palce for them.

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    feeds are out of control. lotsa times the feeders leave trash

  5. #5
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i think anyone out on any sort of hike who needs someone to throw them a spontaneous party on the trail to "lift their spirits" needs to reflect that hiking is voluntary
    You missed my point or more accurately, I failed to explain it properly. While some hikers may continually grouse about the lack of a TM, which would indicate they have a "need," they are in the minority from my observation. The very fact that "spirits are lifted" is an indicator of something unexpected - like a cool sunny day when the forecast called for cold rain.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    You missed my point or more accurately, I failed to explain it properly. While some hikers may continually grouse about the lack of a TM, which would indicate they have a "need," they are in the minority from my observation. The very fact that "spirits are lifted" is an indicator of something unexpected - like a cool sunny day when the forecast called for cold rain.
    and you miss my point- if you dont enjoy the act of being out for a hike, even when it is raining, then go do something else.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    and you miss my point- if you dont enjoy the act of being out for a hike, even when it is raining, then go do something else.
    I don't know how you came to that conclusion from my post, but I'll just accept the fact that you want to inject some unnecessary negativety into the discussion and move on from there.

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I think part of the issue is that the term "Trail Magic" has become synonymous with "hiker feeds."

    Random and spontaneous acts of kindness indeed lift the spirits.

    Large and organized hiker feeds impacts the trail and the trail experience is the ATC contention.

    Be nice to separate the two definitions, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon. At least in popular use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    I don't know how you came to that conclusion from my post, but I'll just accept the fact that you want to inject some unnecessary negativety into the discussion and move on from there.
    you speaking of the positive effects of "lifting spirits" with a hiker feed.

    my response is, if your spirts are in need of lifting, then why are you out hiking?

    even as someone who hikes regularly, if i'm out hiking and realize i dont want to be there, i pack it in and go home. i dont see how someone offering me a free hamburger has anything to do with it one way or the other.

    the tenor of your post is all part of this notion that is all too common that says hikers, thrus in particular, on are some noble and admirable quest that requires and is deserving of the assistance of society at large. thats utter nonsense. anyone who wants to feed people whos spirits needs lifting should go find a soup kitchen or something similar to volunteer at. being part of a hiker feed is just a way for them to join the party without doing any hiking. they do it for themselves, not for you.

  10. #10

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    Before much more posting goes on, perhaps reading the actual ATC guidelines may enlighten the conversation.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I think part of the issue is that the term "Trail Magic" has become synonymous with "hiker feeds."

    Random and spontaneous acts of kindness indeed lift the spirits.

    Large and organized hiker feeds impacts the trail and the trail experience is the ATC contention.

    Be nice to separate the two definitions, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon. At least in popular use.
    A very good point! The article starts out with this:

    "Trail magic is a term that is often misconstrued. By the ATC definition, Trail magic is a serendipitous experience on the Appalachian Trail. Mostly it's unplanned acts of kindness by strangers, though a liberal interpretation might include a mesmerizing sunset after days of soaking rain, or a wildlife sighting so thrilling it makes your heart pound."
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  12. #12

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    It's all been said by Muddy Waters, Lone Wolf, and tdoczi.

    Well done
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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJ aka Teej View Post
    Before much more posting goes on, perhaps reading the actual ATC guidelines may enlighten the conversation.
    Thanks for posting that link. That's the basis for the article. I was not aware of the documents existence. The journal article goes into much more detail of course.

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    I'm not sure why everyone is grouping "trail magic" into a single type of event. On my thru hike I saw many different examples of trail magic and it was obvious which ones were a problem. Most organized trail magic events were at trail head parking lots or parks near to the trail and not actually on the trail. I enjoyed these events and had much gratitude when they occurred. There is a big difference in your mentality when on a short (a few days or weeks) backpacking trip and being on a thru hike for several months. Trail magic definitely wouldn't have meant much to me if I was on a "backpacking trip". I wouldn't desire it or expect it and probably wouldn't stop if it presented itself. A thru hike, though, is a much different animal. You body is starving. Intake calories are lower than expenditure calories for a long periods of time. It's not that you are going to die but when a caloric opportunity like trail magic presents itself it is most impossible to say no and you get a sense of elation that is more physical than mental. Now, everybody has come across the random cooler in the woods that may contain food but most likely is full of nothing but hiker garbage. Many even have a note on them that says they will be back to pick it up on such and such date (usually many days past). This is obviously not good and deserves the criticism. But I always appreciated trail magic and most folks did it "correctly".

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    I'm just not pure enough :0( trail magic was an Apple and it was great eating it . Yes I'm week

    thom

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    You wont like my opinion.

    Nothing wrong with trail magic

    Planned food for hikers on vacation, isnt magic
    Its stupid
    Done by people that want to "buy friends" or notoriety

    Its bad for trails everywhere, and its spilled over to the point idiots want to do it in middle of sierra, have party.
    Amen brother!!!!!!
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  17. #17
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    I'm in agreement with the ATC. Hiker feeds and unattended "trail magic" coolers a lot of negative effects on the trail. They cause trash, clog up trailheads, and create a sense of entitlement and expectation of freebees among newer hikers.

    To relay my own bias, I'm a section hiker have found there are a small but sizable number of these self titled "trail angels" are more accurately thru hiker groupies. On several occasions I've been deliberately stopped by people who offered me some sort of unsolicited freebie, only to have them renege the offer when they found out I was a section hiker. This is something that I find incredibly insulting and has soured my opinion of hiker feeds in general. What they're actually doing is interrupting my day just to let me know that my hike isn't worthy of their help
    and while I'm normally a very polite person in these cases I'm perfectly happy to let them know where they can shove that free hotdog.
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 07-28-2017 at 18:42.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDogg View Post
    Trail magic definitely wouldn't have meant much to me if I was on a "backpacking trip".
    ummm... you were on a backpacking trip.

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    I agree with ATC too. I think a lot of these feeds add to the entitlement attitude that some hikes get. To me trail magic is like when you come out of the store after resupplying and you haven't even put out your thumb and someone comes up and says" Hey need a lift back to the trail?"

  20. #20
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    Agree with ATC. It's getting to where it's a circus out there.

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