Photo by Scott Siler

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My Trail Story featuring KP

The incredible trail magic that Scott Siler, a.k.a KP, experienced on the Appalachian Trail resulted in a wedding invitation and a restored faith in humanity.

Natalie McMillan      My Trail Story       05/23/2019

Natalie McMillan

My Trail Story

05/23/2019

My trail name is Kenny Powers – a fictional character from the HBO series “Eastbound & Down” for those of you who don’t know who that is. I go by “KP” for short. When people ask what KP stands for it really depends on the day. It could be “Kickapoo” or it could be “Kitchen Patrol”. I was given this name in Warner Springs, CA while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018.

I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2016. Growing up in Appalachia mere miles away from Harpers Ferry, it was always a dream to do it. In 2018 I hiked the PCT and the Long Trail end to end. I plan to hike the Colorado Trail this summer and the Lowest to Highest in November. I hope to complete the triple crown in 2020 with a thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail.

A man stands on the Mt Katahdin trail sign.

Photo provided by Scott Siler

I am 28 years old and I started long distance hiking when I was 25. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family and have hiked and backpacked most of my life. We were never much of a theme park or hotel kind of family so to speak. My parents introduced me and my siblings to the wonderful powers of nature at a young age. I feel more at home sleeping on the ground than in a house.

My Story is about some remarkable Trail Magic on the AT in and around the Whites.

A trail through a very dense, green forest.

Photo by Scott Siler

As many of you know the White Mountains are a pinnacle of the AT experience. You hear about them from the day you set foot at Springer Mountain: the unforgivable difficult hiking of the Northeast that you are seemingly preparing for your entire hike mentally and physically.

After a long and wet descent down the backside of Mt. Moosilauke, we realized this would be no cake walk. The weather was absolutely terrible. It was pouring rain and we had zero visibility until we got below tree line. We managed to get to the highway fairly early and hitched a ride into Lincoln, NH, to wait it out and make some alternate plans. As most of us starving hikers tend to do, we naturally gravitated toward the McDonald’s in town to make a game plan. The rain was still relentless at this point.

Later in the day, my hiking partner and I decided to head over to the local brewery to try and find somewhere to stay in town. For hours we looked, called,  and just about everything was full. The local hostel, Chet’s, didn’t even have floor space, and all the hotels were full and unreasonably priced. Every other hostel was completely full as well. We decided to grab a few drinks and see where we ended up. As the rain continued, the weather got increasingly worse and the temperature dropped significantly. As we were sitting at the bar we mentioned to the hostess/bartender our predicament. She, being an avid hiker and local peakbagger, gave us an incredible option that would save our butts that night plus a few nights after.

As fate would have it, she lived in a apartment complex right across the street from the brewery. She said she and the landlord/owner were quite close and the apartment across from hers was vacant. She said she’d give him a call ASAP. Meanwhile two older women who heard our predicament approached us at the bar, and were also both avid local hikers. They immediately recognized us a thru-hikers. We started talking and they told us that both of their kids were getting married in town the next day. And the wedding reception was happening right across the street in a local bed and breakfast.

Hikers relaxing on beds in a cabin room.

Photo by Scott Siler

Without hesitation, they invited us over to meet everyone. We didn’t want to impose, but at the same time we couldn’t say no. We met a lot of really cool people that night including the bride and groom-to-be. Just about every conversation we had revolved around our thru-hike. As the night went on and things winded down, they invited us to their wedding the next day but not before sending us off with five large pizzas and multiple cases of beer. When we walked across the street back to the brewery the hostess was in mid process of calling us to let us know that we could in fact stay in the vacant apartment. Things really couldn’t have gotten much better at this point. We had food, shelter, and most importantly a shower. We didn’t actually attend the wedding the next day, but it literally happened within eyeshot of where we were staying. We made sure to stop by and thank the couple that really helped us out. We ended up staying for a few extra days to wait out the weather before heading back onto the trail.

A view from the Appalachian Trail.

Photo by Scott Siler

Another instance where this occurred was also in the Whites/Presidential Range. When we left Lincoln we made it just around the base of tree line on Franconia Ridge. When we woke up the next morning, the skies were clear and the weather was fine. Within about an hour it quickly turned south and was pouring rain. In this region there are a series of huts run by the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) being that there are no shelters specifically for thru-hikers. Most do work-for-stay, but the times in which you must show up are pretty unrealistic for long days and normally the spots are taken pretty quickly. If you choose to purchase a bunk for the night, that’s an option, but it’s very expensive. At the same time it makes sense because all of the supplies are walked in by AMC volunteers.

Anyways, by the time we reached Zealand Hut we were completely soaked and very cold, like dangerously cold. The winds had picked up as well. I can best compare it to someone pouring buckets of water on you in front of a fan. When we reached the hut we saw several other hikers that we had been leapfrogging for the past few months. All of them had to unfortunately tell us that the hut was full. I remember being so incredibly mad at this point, but there was nothing I could do. I felt like it was almost dangerous for us to be out there. The caretakers wouldn’t even let us set up on the porch and then started to be pretty rude about us loitering. They told us there was a tent flat about two miles down the ridge and that it was in cover.

After some harsh words were exchanged we carried on and headed down the mountain. When we got to the “tent flat” it was a puddle — more like a river — and everything but a flat. We dug trenches and threw a tarp over both of our tents but the weather just didn’t quit. The winds really picked up through the night. At one point I noticed there was so much water in my tent I was literally floating on my sleeping pad. After maybe an hour of combined sleep morning finally came and the rain subsided slightly.

A beautiful sunset in the distance over some forest.

Photo by Scott Siler

The next day was one of the hardest, most mentally demanding days I’ve ever had on trail. So much rain had fallen in the last few days that we were basically walking in a bog on wooden boards, ankle to waist deep at times. This was a day that the “suck” nearly broke me. We finally made it to Crawford Notch and managed to hitch a ride to a campground. The weather was still pretty bad so we decided to hitch to a campground with some cabins. We dished out some cash and got a cabin with heat, beer, and lots of snacks. We knew the next day would be pretty rough as well so we relished our sleep and downtime. When the morning came we had to hitch a ride back to the trailhead. No one was picking us up, like no one.

After a few hours, a young couple pulled over in a station wagon and scooped us up. We told them how stoked we were to be heading into the Presidentials. We had been waiting to get here for months! They told us they were heading up to Madison Spring Hut. We didn’t think much of it at the time – just some cool people going for an outing as well. They dropped us at the trailhead and we proceeded to hike nearly the entire Presidential Range in one day, making the summit of Mt. Washington at nearly 4:30 pm. We had pretty much zerovisibility. At times my partner and I were holding onto each other’s packs so we didn’t get lost. Just around sunset we finally broke cloud cover and were in view of Madison Spring Hut in the saddle down below us.

We both looked at each other and were like “Okay, are you ready to be disappointed again?” We decided to at least stop by and see what was up. And wouldn’t you know it, the couple that we hitched a ride from earlier in the day were in fact the caretakers of the hut! They greeted us with warm tea and cake! The told us they had plenty of food and we were welcome to stay! Let’s just say our faith in the AMC was greatly restored.

Trail magic comes in many forms. Whether it’s a cooler on the side of the trail, or water, or an incredible story such as this. Never underestimate the goodwill of people helping out other people. This greatly restored my faith in humanity as did almost every other long distance trail I’ve embarked on.

A mountain covered in green vegetation.

Photo by Scott Siler


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Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)       $59.99 full guide

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Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
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Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Zoë Symon

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)

$59.99 full guide

Learn more

Get our trail guide for this area!

About the Author

A woman wearing a denim jacket and a brown hat stands in a field of wildflowers.

Natalie McMillan

Natalie grew up hiking in Arizona where she fell in love with the outdoors. Her favorite hikes are to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, UT. She loves taking pictures of people, places, and nature, which might explain why she has almost 47,000 photos currently residing on her phone. She takes care of all things related to social media and marketing and recently moved to Denver, CO from Flagstaff, AZ. You may find her frolicking around the trails and mountains of Colorado, or exploring the new city she gets to call home.