“Are you looking for the marmots?” the trail angel asked. What?
“Why yes.” How did she know? Earlier, I had passed this woman doing yoga on the shore of Lake Chelan. I had walked on a bit past her and looked with my binoculars for the marmots further down the shore, but saw none. Know this… I love marmots and I had driven miles to see them in this location.
As I turned back, she asked me the question. She told me she had just been down there and had seen at least 20. I was delighted. I continued my walk and saw the 20. As this was May, I enjoyed many juveniles doing the same stuff all young mammals do – playing, being cute.
As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t find the woman. She had disappeared. Not unusual for a trail angel.
Last summer, hiking on a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail, I encountered a young woman sitting on a rock. I greeted her and asked how she was doing. “Not so well.” We talked a bit. She had spent a night being ill with nausea and heart symptoms. I gave her a liter of my water and did a bit of acupressure on her. She said she’d try to hitch a ride at the trail head and get some medical attention. She had started her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail at the Mexican border. At this point she knew her body and soul well.
I told her that if she couldn’t find a ride by the time I got back to the trail head after my hike, I would take her to get some help.
She didn’t get a ride. I took her down into Enumclaw where she was able to reach a trail friend. Now she had to get to Snoqualmie Pass miles away. Naturally, I drove her after we got some electrolytes in her. I dropped her off at the gas station at the pass summit where she would meet her friend who had secured a safe place to rest up and take care of herself.
As we parted, Holly gave me a hug and said that I was a trail angel. It was the first time I had heard that term.
I’ve pondered it for a year now. I think that we all have had wonderful meetings with trail angels over our life, but we, I, don’t honor the phenomenon well enough.
Could one actually count on trail angels to show up just when we need them? I think so. And count on them for those we love when we aren’t around to help them.
Suzanne has never changed a tire. She’s never had to put on tire chains in the snow. She’s been willing and able to do the tasks, but just when she starts to do it an angel shows up and does it for her and then disappears. Just like the yoga woman and like I disappeared out of Holly’s life.
On our drive to the pass, Holly and I talked about her father who was a lieutenant in the police force. She said her dad would be grateful for the help I gave her.
Miles from home, Sasha was having a meltdown because her car had broken down. Her trail angel happened to own the exact same year and model of car as she had. This elder calmed her down and fixed the problem. And disappeared. I agree with Holly’s dad. I’m grateful for angels in my daughters and in Suzanne’s lives.
I know similar things happen for Zoe. She even married one of her trail angels.
Heck my marriage to Suzanne came from a trail angel that gave me a tip just before I set off from Harvard on my motorcycle for North Carolina… Why don’t you stop in and visit Suzanne, she’s in Washington DC now. I did and almost 50 years later we’re still in love.
My decision to move to Seattle over three decades ago came from another angel.
Being a trail angel is a remarkable experience. Do you remember when you got to be one? How did that feel?
Spend some time recalling when you had trail angel experiences – both being the angel and be helped by one.
Of course, I make my living being a trail angel, helping people on their journeys. Even still, one of my not useful inner voices continues to say, “Who are you to be a trail angel? Who do you think you are?” I’ll leave you with Martha Beck’s response.
You may think it’s arrogant to believe that you can be an agent of miracles in another person’s life. Actually, it’s arrogant to believe you can’t.
May you walk in beauty,