appalachian trail days: how the magic began

May 6, 2013

Throughout this blog, I have mentioned Appalachian Trail Days many times but never gotten into the details of the trip and what it is all about. Since it is coming up in just a few short weeks (and I am sulking that this is the first year I’m not going since we’ve begun), I figured it was time to share one of my favorite ministries with you all.

Back Story

Our friend Tina (or "Sonshine," her trail name) is amazing and has a huge heart for missions.

In 2009, she quit her full time job to through-hike the Appalachian Trail for six months and witness to those she met along the way. Her own personal missions trip.


For those of you who aren't familiar, the Appalachian Trail extends from Georgia to Maine for a total of 2,160 miles. That’s a long walk. A knee injury made her take a break, but she made it all the way to New Jersey! I told you she is amazing. She kept her own blog during the time, which chronicled a lot of cool things including her confrontation with a bear!

From just that information alone, I know many of you can draw  a conclusion of what that may be like. Some of you may be researching the feasibility of doing your own hike, while others are already thinking “more power to this Tina chick. I could never do that!”

communal camping and all this space? also a luxury.

That means you’ve begun to put yourself in the shoes of a hiker: day in and day out, you walk for miles while carrying your whole life on your back. You are dirty, you are eating the same things often as they weigh less, and you are at the mercy of mother nature. At the end of each day your only shelter could be a simple hammock or sleeping bag. Forget about plumbing. You go when and where you have to go. A shower and home cooked meal are just a luxury that you daydream about for when you get into a town or back home after your hike.

Trail Magic

“Trail Magic” is a term used within the hiking community that refers to any unexpected blessing or good thing. A lot of times it is associated with “Trail Angels,” people who will go on the trail for a day to hand out cookies, a cold bottle of water, or the like.

When I googled the term, the first story that came up was from a hiker who was trying to dress his blisters when he was approached by two medical doctors who gave him bandages, painkillers, and a cell phone to call someone to pick him up temporarily while he healed: just what he needed at the moment.

Think of Appalachian Trail Days as a guaranteed overdose of Trail Magic. Damascus, Virginia is one of only a handful of towns that the trail physically runs through. Each May, the town hosts a festival including a parade, vendors, and events throughout the town. Hikers camp out and enjoy the events, party, and receive tons of Trail Magic from one of the festival’s biggest participants: First Baptist Church of Damascus.

Tune in next week to get into the nitty gritty!

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This post was shared on Coastal Charm.


  1. I am going to have to make a trip!!! You inspired me. Looks like a great place to relax and be active!

  2. This looks like a really great the follower.....

  3. That's really, really cool. If only I lived closer!

  4. Are you freaking serious! This has to be one of the freaking coolest ministries i've ever heard of. Oh my gosh. wow. NO WONDER you miss it.

  5. Wow this is so cool! I've never heard of it before, but how fascinating!

  6. Saw this from another blog.

    Looks really cool. Can't wait to learn more.



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