The Appalachian Trail is a crown jewel of America’s hiking system, and this short doc shows how one man’s mobile campground café builds camaraderie for those seeking to tackle the entire stretch.
How did you find out about the Leap Frog Cafe?
I spoke with a few groups of Appalachian Trail hikers in order to get a better understanding of the trail’s most memorable Trail Angels, and Fresh Ground kept coming up. A Trail Angel is anyone who often helps out hikers in a time of need. The concept of supplying long distance hikers with an endless amount of food was too interesting to ignore, so after contacting him online, he agreed to let me share his story.
Why did you decide to do a film on it?
Although I’ve only hiked a fraction of the Appalachian Trail, I quickly realized how much self-determination it would take for a hiker to complete the entire thing. Trail Angels always pop up when you least expect it. That’s how it always was for me. Just before I’d feel like I was about to fall over from exhaustion and quit, I would hike around a corner to reveal a metal box, or a cooler chained to a tree and sealed with a carabiner. On the top, always a note wishing the hikers good luck, and inside, an assortment of consumable treats. Sometimes we would find sealed jugs of filtered water at a remote intersection where the road and the trail would cross. To a hiker, that’s water that you didn’t have to filter and carry yourself, which is always great. Little victories like those become a very big deal out there, so when a hiker rolls up on Fresh Ground’s Leap Frog Cafe after burning 6000 calories in one day, the unlimited food part gets them pretty excited. It’s a reason to keep moving forward.