Deena C. Bouknight, Contributing Writer
As activity on the Appalachian Trail increases for spring – with hikers stopping in Franklin on their way to the ultimate destination of Maine – many volunteers and discounted services are provided. (“Franklin gearing up for influx of AT hikers” Jan. 31, 2019 at www.themaconcountynews.com)
Recently, just before Easter and during Easter weekend, hikers were treated to homemade cookies baked by local volunteers as well as what is referred to as “trail magic,” bags of goodies assembled by the Nantahala Hiking Club.
Claire Suminski and volunteers with the Women’s History Trail have been making dozens of cookies to hand out to hikers entering Outdoor 76 on Main Street.
“We deliver about 30 bags of cookies – two cookies per bag – every three or four days,” said Suminski. “Our goal is to deliver 600 bags by the end of April.”
She explained that not only is giving out cookies a way to show hikers they are important to the town, and to treat them to something homemade, but also to entice them to partake in the Women’s History Trail while they are in Franklin. “Each bag has a laminated tag with a bit of information about the Trail,” said Suminski. “And then there are brochures so that they can walk around the town and check out some of the stops. We are hopeful they will have fond memories of Franklin and possibly tell some of their friends about the Women’s History Trail and all the wonderful shops that are here.
“But I especially think they are excited about the cookies! I remember when my daughter, Jamy, hiked the Appalachian Trail and how much it meant to her when she experienced trail magic along the way. When hiking such long distances, hikers are limited in the food they can pack. It’s really nice to have something homemade along the way.”
And every Easter weekend, Nantahala Hiking Club members are invited to participate in Easter Trail Magic. They meet at the clubhouse on Carl Slagle Road on the Saturday before Easter Sunday and prepare goodie bags and then head out on the Appalachian Trail to distribute them.
Trail Magic bags might include granola and/or protein bars, some Easter candy, hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper packets, and small-size fruit such as apples or Cuties. Dozens of bags are assembled and given out annually.