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Trail Angel Stories: Mr. Kitchen

Trail Angel Stories: Mr. Kitchen

Three miles into the day, we came to a junction in the trail. The arrow to the left pointed us to the PCT while the arrow to the right read “campsites, clear spring water.” Both of us had been going on about how much we needed to *ahem* relieve ourselves, so we decided to take the trail to the right because we figured we’d encounter less people than off of the PCT. We followed a beautiful creek for a couple hundred yards before arriving at the campsite noted on the sign. We were surprised to see other tents pitched but were more focused in finding a secluded place to dig a hole. Journey Man ran up a small hill because he thought he saw an outhouse, which turned out to be a van. Once he passed the van, however, he did catch sight of a pit toilet. He called down excitedly to me, “Found the pit toilet!!” When he called out, a man popped his head out of the van and said, “They were just cleaned yesterday!!” 

Journey Man was halfway to the pit toilet and acknowledged the statement with a wave of thanks. The van man cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted in our general direction, “I’m Mr. Kitchen, by the way!” I whipped my head around to look at the man. I was in disbelief. Mr. Kitchen?? I know a Mr. Kitchen. We made eye contact and I ran over to the van. Mr. Kitchen!

A fellow thru hiker that I met in Maine on the AT, Mr. Kitchen informed us that he is now working to manage a trail maintenance crew for the PCTA! He offered to cook us breakfast, pulling out his flattop grill before we could even say yes. He sautéed onions to add to a delicious grilled cheese and the three of us sat and caught up. Mr. Kitchen made us three grilled cheeses EACH over the course of three hours.

It was such an unexpected treat to find Mr. Kitchen at that campsite. Hikers make small decisions every day that can dictate the whole experience. Should I push big miles? Take a dip in this lake? Follow this side trail to a campsite off the PCT? Had we not taken the side trail, we never would’ve encountered Mr. Kitchen on the West coast. The Trail never ceases to amaze me with how it brings people together!

- Mantis

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