Sometimes my life on the trail feels a little surreal. Most mornings I start my hike with my head in the clouds… Or at least a dense fog. The fog hangs in the trees and gives the forest a certain fairy tale quality.
I stepped out of the typical morning cloud, crossed Skyline Drive, and paused on the other side to read the trail sign. I was definitely off in my own world when I heard a car honk. I looked up, and a car had stopped in the middle of the road about 20 feet from me. The women in the passenger side rolled her window down and asked, “Would you like a piece of fruit?”
Fresh fruit is akin to thru-hiker gold. It’s hard to come by on the trail since it’s heavy and bruises easily, so offers of fresh fruit are hard for us to turn down. It was a slightly strange scenario, but I thought about it and I did want a piece of fruit, so I said, “yes”, as I turned and walked back towards the car.
The woman in the car rustled through the paper bag beside her, pulled out an apple, and presented it too me with a flourish. “Here, have this apple” she said with a smile.
My stride faltered just a smidge and I said, “This feels very Snow White to me.” The women smiled again and assured me that they were hikers, and at the last overlook one of the thru-hikers had told them that fruit was better than candy out here on the trail.
I took the apple, thanked the couple for it and headed back towards the trail. As I re-entered the woods I kept thinking about Snow White. I had been offered (and gratefully accepted) peaches, bananas, oranges and even watermelon from strangers on the trail, but in those cases it just seemed like the weird and awesome trail magic that it was. Being offered an apple somehow came with more cultural baggage than I’d expected. Not just of Snow White, but of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Those stories both seem to suggest that you shouldn’t take and eat apples offered to you by strangers! Or should you?
I looked at my apple again. It was just an apple. I was thinking about this way too much. I took a bite and kept walking. Though it still felt like I was walking through a magically enchanted forest I didn’t fall into a deep, long slumber until after I’d hiked 20 more miles, and I think that slumber was related to exhaustion and not to the very tasty apple.