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Appalachian Trail hikers surprised with generous food from a ‘trail angel’



  • Every year, thousands of hikers attempt to finish the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail.
  • Trail angels, who volunteer to prepare and provide real food for the hikers, have become a thing.
  • When Michele Staudenmaier learned about this, she tried doing some trail magic herself, leaving many hikers delighted and grateful for generous food she serves.

It isn’t easy to hike, especially with an almost empty stomach and insufficient nutrient intake. And this trail angel knows this precisely.

Every year, thousands of trekkers try to conquer the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, but not all of them are able to finish. Mostly, only one in four completes the entire hike which is, at some point, comparable with Mt. Everest.

Typically, hikers only bring three days’ worth of food, and running short is not something new. Resupplying is possible, but they have to reach the next town for it. So, these hikers are grateful for trail angels who provide food, drink and a comfy chair along the way.

Photo Credit: Good News Network

Trail angels or trail magic is something new to Michele Staudenmaier, until her son Zach began the Appalachian Trail (AT) in March. Zach told her that hikers totally appreciate real food and drinks from volunteers, which the hiking community named as “trail angels.”

“I was very surprised”, said Michele, “when I realized there was a massive community of volunteers that spend their time and money to support Appalachian Trail hikers. I had no idea!”

This gave Michele a bright idea: she would become a trail angel herself.

With her husband Dave, Michele then arranged to stay in Airbnbs along the AT — in Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine — in the six months that their son planned to hike. And they set up some “trail magic.”

Photo Credit: Michele Staudenmaier

One time, Michele cooked and wrapped 50 hotdogs, chips, fruit, sweet treats, sodas and Gatorade. Another time she served buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken and pasta salad. These are all like a taste of heaven for hikers who have been burning as much as 600 calories per hour.

About 20-30 hikers usually come through to spend at least 30 minutes eating, resting, sharing experiences. And they are all very grateful to trail angels, including Michele.

One said, “You have no idea how good this chicken tastes after eating camp food!”

Photo Credit: Michele Staudenmaier

Another one expressed undying gratitude, as he completely ran out of food the day before, making him quickly devour six hot dogs!

As for Michele, she is as delighted, serving a purpose and hearing the hikers’ stories in this total trail-magic experience.


And this could be the peak of her own adventure.

Source: Good News Network