Hiking season is here again…finally! I may not get excited about it the way other people do because even though I like hiking, I love helping hikers more. Hiking for me is a process that has involved a lot of mental challenges. For example, I do not like to hike with other people; I am self-conscious about my abilities (or lack thereof) and have no desire to impede the progress of others. I am working on that. However, I do love doing Trail Magic. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, it can be any form of help that you provide for a hiker; be it a ride, a hot shower, a meal, a place to stay or even something as simple as water to refill their bottle that they don’t have to filter. Anything that makes their journey a little easier. My personal favorite is to provide water, soda, fruit and other snacks. I enjoy socializing and hearing the stories of people. Trails are great equalizers and that is one of the best things about hiking. You don’t know anyone’s story until they tell it.
I recently went to Vermont for the weekend to visit my old stomping grounds from when I had an assignment there. I missed the feel of the place and missed the Appalachian Trail. On my way into town, I stopped at the trail crossing, not expecting to find anyone there in need of assistance. I hadn’t been there more than 2 minutes and I found someone who needed a ride. I was more than happy to provide it. I know, giving strangers a ride? Hikers are different; the trail is a place that can restore your faith in humanity if you let it in. I gave her a ride and showed her around town and she was tickled pink. She asked me a couple of times if she could pay me, which I would never accept. I just asked her to pay it forward.
It truly makes me happy to help other people. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I went into healthcare. Kindness is something that makes me feel good. It fills my heart and I think makes me a better person. I am fortunate that I am able to do this and there was a point in my life when I could just barely afford to take care of myself. I think that is a driving force in my need to help people. I have felt that and don’t wish it on others. My reasons are simple and there are many people who are surprised or want to complicate it. But, plain and simple, it brings me joy to help people, so why would I stop?