Yesterday morning, at a spot where the AT was crossing under interstate 26 between Erwin, TN and Asheville, NC, I came across a sign that pointed up a hill toward a cemetery, announcing a trail magic event. There, a trail angel named Paul Thrailkill “Silent Paul” was cooking up eggs and hash browns for all thru hikers. He does so for 10 days each year. Paul had thru hiked in 2007. He had recently retired from the Washington, DC area and relocated to Asheville, NC. He had a career as a stone mason and had spent 19 years building the National Cathedral in DC. He was so humble about his remarkable professional work.
I told him that I might like to do some trail angel work some day. He advised me to be careful, noting that the prior year he had been fined by officials from the state of NC for preparing food without proper licensure on state land. So this year he moved his operation to private land (this private cemetery), clearing it with the landowners. There is something so heartwarming about his persistent efforts to help others. Let’s hear it for Silent Paul!!!