Day 18 – Trail Magic

I’m writing from Fontana Dam, 165 miles on the Appalachian trail. It’s raining and I’m not out in it so I’m happy.


I’ve been taking my time in towns. White water rafted down the Nantahala river on Tuesday, for free. Gorgeous river but unfortunately no pictures, because water.

The last few days have featured some grueling climbs. Coming from the Nantahala outdoor center you climb from 1700 feet to 5000 feet in six miles. Then a few miles later you encounter “Jacob’s Ladder” which is a half mile section of trail with a 30-45% grade.

Trail Magic

On the AT trail magic is traditionally thought of as free food and random strangers doing nice things for you. I’ve only encountered that type of trail magic once, up on Wayah Bald.


I was hiking with Tyler, Melanie, and Julia and we came across a small cooler filled with hard cider. At first we thought there were three beers but then we found a fourth hiding at the bottom. Almost as if the universe manifested one more so that we could each have a bottle.

The much more interesting trail magic to me have been the chance encounters and fortuitous events, like getting a free rafting trip when I was thinking about water or meeting a professional photographer when I was feeling a need to improve my photography skills.

I met John MacLean in Rathskeller’s, a coffee shop and bar in Franklin NC.( John has been a professional photographer for over 20 years and has taken incredible nature and landscape shots.


We struck up a conversation and he gave me an impromptu hour long photography lesson. What are the chances that I would meet the a professional photographer living in the backwoods of NC?

There are many more instances I could cite, like finding a copy of The Way of Zen in a hiker box. 

It feels like the universe is alive and communicating to me through these synchronicities.

I attribute the experiences to the fact that the trip has opened my heart and filled my soul. I feel very much in tune and in flow with the world. It’s a state of consciousness where everything seems to work out.

The whole world becomes a magical place when you follow your heart.

I’m off to the Smokies. My next update will be from Gatlinburg or Hot Springs. Thanks for reading, leave a comment if you could so I know I’m not just talking to myself 🙂

Jack Jones

Jack Jones

Quadzilla at Couch to Trail
Jack is on a quest to explore the world and find adventure. He is passionate about using his adventures to inspire others to follow their heart and step out of their comfort zone. He has hiked ~13,000 miles and was the 19th person to complete a Calendar Year Triple Crown in 2022.
Jack Jones

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