Musings from the CU Suite

May 09, 2013

Three Reasons to Spread Trail Magic at Work

Written by Anthony Demangone

My wife and I love the mountains, our National Parks, and the fresh air.  In the past, my wife volunteered to help maintain trails along the Appalachian Trail. And we cross the "AT" every time we visit Old Stony Man in Shenandoah National Park. 

Why all this talk of the AT?  To set up an idea: trail magic.

The AT is more than 2,100 miles long.  From what I've read, it tests the mettle of the most seasoned hikers.  What seemed fantastic in Georgia in April (when most hikers start the trek), may not seem so great hiking up a hill in West Virginia in July.  That's a lot of blisters.

Enter Trail Angels, who are the people that distribute "trail magic."  I read a number of stories, and here's the best description I've seen so far:

When I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000, I was the lucky recipient of something commonly referred to in the hiking community as "trail magic." Trail magic can manifest itself in many ways. In early March barely 50 miles into my trip, I met a woman named "Coosa" at a place known as Unicoi Gap in north Georgia. She was handing out cookies and candy to hikers - including me! People like "Coosa" are commonly referred to as "Trail Angels." Trail Angels are the folks who dispense trail magic. Needless to say, I was thrilled and delighted at her generosity. Two days later a group of elderly men from Toccoa, Georgia who were out on a day hike found me sitting despondently on the side of the trail just north of Kelly Knob. (Don't get me started about Kelly Knob!) I was trying unsuccessfully to dress some deep heel blisters that had formed days earlier. They asked me how I was and I said, "not very good." With that, two medical doctors stepped forward and offered me advice, bandages, and some ibuprofen. They also loaned me a cell phoneto call a family member to fetch me so my blisters could heal properly. It was the tonic that I needed at just the right moment.

My wife and I hope to hike the AT after we retire.  We use the term "trail magic" quite a bit.   If some stranger helps us in an unexpected way, one of the two of us inevitably will use the term. 

But why wait for the AT? Why not spread some trail magic at work?  Bring in some cookies, and just leave them in the lunch room.  Send a colleague a nice note after a job well done.  Or send a note of encouragement to a colleague who is having a bad day. 

Here are three reasons to spread trail magic at work:

  1. It can make a huge difference to a colleague.  Perhaps more than you know. I would guess that all of us can recall some time when a word of encouragement or kind deed came along at just the right time. Those gestures can turn around your day, or your week.  They are powerful. 
  2. Trail magic is a win-win situation.  You'll feel better about yourself.  I guarantee it.  If you make a habit of being kind, you'll be amazed at how much it improves your state of mind. 
  3. Finally, trail magic is a wonderful reminder that there are good people out there. That not everyone is out to play angles or win at any cost.  In my mind, every drop of trail magic makes the world a better place.  

So, here's to the Trail Angels, to trail magic, and making the world a better place.  And here's the best part.  If you're not a trail angel now, there's an easy way to remedy the situation. 

Have a great weekend, guys.