About the Author: Maggie “Haiku” Elliott is a southern belle who resides in a scruffy little city known as Knoxville, TN. When she’s not at work she’s taking advantage of all the beautiful Appalachian land around her, whether it’s hiking in the GSMNP or climbing at her favorite crag at the Obed. She completed an E2E hike of the Long Trail and has completed most of the Foothills Trail. She enjoys meeting all types of folks outdoors and writing haikus about her experience.
After getting off the Long Trail* in July of 2018, I finally began to understand all the ins and outs of the trail community. I didn’t truly understand the community as a whole until I experienced it for myself. I had always seen how thru-hikers had weird bonds with one another that were hard to come by in regular life, but it was hard to believe you could become so close to someone in such a short period of time. But after spending 24 days living in the woods, it all clicked. Trail friends are different. It is as plain as that.
Reunion hike with the Long Trail Ladies on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC at sunset.
In the trail community, it’s loosely agreed upon that a day on trail with someone is like spending six months together in non-trail life. Even after hiking a few miles with someone or spending the night at a shelter with a fellow hiker, an immediate bond starts that is hard to put into words. Hikers on trail are just some of the nicest people around. We are all problem-solvers when someone rolls up to camp with an issue. You need a band-aid? No problem, we got you. Tired of your packaged dinners? Here, let’s trade. Hikers are always willing to make sure everyone is happy and thriving.
Enjoying the sunshine on Black Balsam off the Blue Ridge Parkway with the LT Ladies.
Now, let’s take this scenario and imagine hiking with these people for multiple days on end. You experience the triumphs of summits together, the trials of pouring rain, bugs, and jacked up feet together, you even get to experience the euphoria of trail magic together. There is no experience like cramming four dirty ladies into a hotey** room, chowing down on pizza, showering, and repacking all your supplies before the next leg of the trail. After all these situations, good and bad, the friendships grow into something that is far different than anything I have ever felt in real life. Trail friends are some of the best gifts that the trail provides.
Gups and me on top of Camels Hump, VT on the Long Trail.
Even on trail, there is a difference between friends. There are trail friends, then there is your tramily. And let me tell you, a tramily is for life. These people spend days hiking with you seeing all sides of you: good, bad, and ugly. They hear about all the bodily functions you had that day, the problems you left behind in society, the reasons for your hike, your dreams, fears, and everything in between. A tramily is about as real as it gets.
Enjoying 45 degree rain and 40mph winds on Vermont’s highest peak Mount Mansfield.
In my experience, the trail has taught me so many things about life, but most importantly it has showed me how many like-minded people there are in the world. Even on the toughest days of work, my tramily is just a group text away. Even if we live thousands of miles apart, we all make a point to spend at least one weekend a year together and remember how great the trail truly is. So cheers, to all the tramilies out there and to all the ones that will be formed this thru-hiking season!
Night 3 on trail with Gups and Shrooms.
To all tramilies
Near or far, good, bad, ugly
Trail pals forever
*Shoutout to the original Long Trail Tramily for always encouraging me on my hike. Cheese and Spills, you guys were there for some of the best times on trail and for that I will always be appreciative. To my Long Trail Kwainz (Gups, Hot Mess, and Shrooms), you ladies taught me how amazing it is to accomplish something together and I am so thankful for our friendships. No matter where we are, I hope we always make time to hit the trails with one another.
**Hotey – Hotel Room / Tramily – Trail family