Appalachian Trail

AT Thru-Hiker Gets Trail Magic

When you’re an AT thru-hiker, one of the best things that can happen to you is meeting a trail angel along the way. What’s a trail angel? These are the people who volunteer their time and energy to provide Appalachian Trail hikers with great meals and other support – trail magic — often at their own expense.

AT Thru-Hiker Number 2 Pencil

At American Outdoor Guide Boundless, we continue to follow the progress of the AT thru-hiker dubbed Number 2 Pencil in his quest to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.

About 3,000 hikers attempt to complete the 2,193-mile trail each year from Georgia to Maine, but only about one in four succeed. We’re cheering for Number 2 Pencil to make it all the way. He has posted 56 videos to date on his YouTube channel, The Heard Hiker.

Trail Magic Takes Many Forms

A hiker never knows for sure when trail magic will appear or what form it will take. Sometimes it’s a cooler of cold drinks or a bag full of candy bars left on the trail. Sometimes trail magic is as simple as a ride into town to a local restaurant or hostel.

For hikers lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, there are trail angels here and there who set up camp near a trail intersection to fire up their grills and stoves to cook complete meals.

Many of these people are former AT hikers themselves who live near some section of the trail. The free meals provide a welcome break from standard trail fare and give the hikers not only needed calories, but an emotional lift to keep going.

Meeting Fresh Ground

In Episode 35 of his video journal, Number 2 Pencil and some other weary hikers have a chance to meet one of the most famous trail angels, Fresh Ground.

Fresh Ground, whose real name is Tim Davis, has been a trail angel for a decade. His Leapfrog Café might be found anywhere the AT meets a roadway from Georgia to Virginia. He typically sets up early in the hiking season in Georgia, then leapfrogs north several times, perhaps staying in one spot for as long as 10 days at a time.

On this occasion, Number 2 Pencil and others caught up with Fresh Ground in Tennessee and were treated to a meal of sloppy joes, French fries, bratwurst, and a selection of snacks and drinks.

Follow Number 2 Pencil

Click on the video below to see The Heard Hiker’s Episode 35 about meeting Fresh Ground and to link to his other video journal episodes. And be sure to check AmericanOutdoor.Guide for more great outdoor adventures and how-to resources.

(Lead photo credit: Dbpetersen /

Wanna follow the progress of the AT thru-hiker dubbed Number 2 Pencil? Click here to read how AT Thru-Hiker is Dressed for Success.


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