On my last hike, I often thought of the Syrian refugees. Like them, I was covering hundreds of miles through new territory, with challenging terrain and weather, uncertain where I would spend the night or get water, and pushing on through injury. But unlike them, I knew that I could at any point end the hike, return to the comforts of home, eat and drink my fill, and get adequate medical care.
More than on previous hikes, I interacted with others on the trail, including many “through hikers” planning to hike the whole Appalachian Trail in a few months. I enjoyed hearing their stories and appreciated their determination. But I was also struck by the luxury of time and resources behind such an endeavor and the general tendency to frame it as a matter of self-fulfillment.
Most of these hikers have family and friends supporting them in various ways. And there are even providers of “trail magic”: “trail angels” set up on small roads crossed by the AT and give hikers hamburgers, soft drinks, fruit, medical items, or rides into the nearest town. My highest mileage days were when I received trail magic, my body energized and spirit boosted by people whom I had never met before and probably would never see again.
I would like to provide trail magic for people following trails that lead away from disaster or danger and lead to places of security. And I would like to invite others to join me. As a step in this direction, I have set up a webpage where donations can be made directly to the International Rescue Committee, which “delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster” and is rated “A+” by CharityWatch. On this webpage, I suggest how my next hike (which I plan to begin on July 1) might be used as a guide for the amount of “trail magic” that you contribute.
Interested? Please go to https://www.crowdrise.com/morphing-trail-miles-into-help-for-refugees . I will also be glad to have your feedback via "Comments" or the "Contact me" tab above.
Trails we follow,