Trail Angels

What is life but a thru-hike (a long-distant trek in one direction) with section hikes (shorter but essential side-paths) as part of our holistic journey. And, when we consciously and intentionally open ourselves to life with gratitude, we also meet the trail angels that extend nourishment to body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit.

hike your own hike according to where you are on your life journey

When I hike and backpack in a lot of different places, my objectives and intentions that are very different from my thru-hiking experience. It brings a conscious attention to the details. It opens my senses to trail angels of all kinds.

I make conscious, reasoned (and intuitive) decisions about the gear, fitness level, and skills you need to complete a hike. These are metaphors for all life experiences.

Trail angels can be impromptu one-offs (someone giving a hiker a lift into town) or well-established names in the thru-hiking community (someone who opens their home year after year to accept hiker resupply packages and provide a safe place to sleep and recharge). Trail magic can be a drink-filled cooler left at a trailhead for hikers or an entire barbecue dinner waiting for hikers at a campground. Halfway Anywhere

In Appalachian (AT), Pacific Crest (PCT), and Bruce Trail lingo, trail angels are people who go out of their ways to make life a little (or sometimes a lot) better for hikers.

no failure, is it,
those lives, lived
which have put forth
to the rest of us
that which was tasked
to the brave hearts, 
who do, defy
and assume the test

look, elephant island,

that expedition, not willing
to release it’s guests
without a distilling

and endurance fell into
a darkness, 
where strength, unrepressed
the other to walk with them
a third spirit as such
they later confessed

juxtapositions in a life, lived fully

there lies a comfort,
even with the trauma
or maybe because of it
such a juxtaposition
that factor of third
a profound coping fix

those mountains and seas
desert heat, arctic cold
alone is the test,
the hardest is yet
when triumph needs the other,
a spirit to make bold

as, no failure, when solo not


learning to hear the voice of the trail angels

Shackleton asserts this phenomenon as a Providence of sorts. In the snow fields of South Georgia, in the Falkland Islands, he and two companions marched not as three, but as four. It is an ineffable, intangible intuitive sense that I feel viscerally just writing about it. In Shackleton’s words, one feels,

the dearth of human words
the roughness of mortal speech.
But a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject
very near to our hearts.


the waste land

T. S. Elliot and Shackleton are but two who give us an idea, inspiration and motivation to tough it out. The Waste Land was composed by Elliot as he recovered from a nervous breakdown, in an asylum in Geneva Switzerland.

With his life in fragments, Elliot as did the other explorer, sought to create something substantial — a something that could bolster him again the superficial world that lacked anything of genuine significance.

Water, in The Waste Land, symbolized this thirst for meaning.

if there were water….

And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water.

~ T. S. Elliot


in this desert, my journey, I am sourcing water

in this desert, water, is there
for the one who wants, who can push the pain

to endure the hot and the cold
to face the challenges of the unknown

to seek out the water, the other
this unnamed source, ultimately to be
found within

~ namasté, Leah🕊

🕊 embracing mindful, empowering transformations🕊

© Leah J. Spence 2020, All Rights Reserved

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