GRAFTON TOWNSHIP — Appalachian Trail hikers were treated to grilled burgers, fresh vegetables and cupcakes Thursday afternoon by a group of Rumford Hospital employees who set up a lunch table in the parking lot beside Route 26.

Matt Kusper of North Carolina and Marla Davidson of Warren, Vermont, were beneficiaries of Trail Magic, a volunteer service provided to hikers along the 2,200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine.

Kusper and Davidson said they were most appreciative of the fresh vegetables,”especially the tomato slices,” Davidson said.

The two started separately at the southern terminus of the trail on Springer Mountain in Georgia and met up in Pennsylvania.

Kusper, whose trail name is Green Bean because he often wears green and he’s tall and slim, began the hike April 15.

Davidson started April 22. She acquired her trail name of Fancy Feast after eating a can of what she hoped was tuna fish and used the container for a makeshift stove heated by alcohol, she said.

The feast laid out for them Thursday was a change from the rice or pasta sides they can throw into boiling water and “lots of tuna packets, chicken packets and peanut butter— that’s a staple,” Kusper said.

It’s the second year the hospital employees have hosted Trail Magic.

Residents of nearby towns have offered AT hikers rides for showers and supplies, backyard campsites, snacks and other meals, said Kate Carlisle, director of Public Relations for Central Maine Healthcare, the parent organization of Rumford Hospital.

Jen Holmes of Dixfield, an administrative assistant at Rumford Hospital, was one of the eight employees and family members providing the barbecue. She said she first heard about Trail Magic from her in-laws, Jon and Sue Holmes of Roxbury, who regularly grill burgers for the hikers.

Holmes pitched the idea to the hospital and it was a go.

All of the food, first-aid kits and tiny slotted spoons to remove ticks are donated by employees, she said.

“Everyone is thankful,” Holmes said. “And it’s a fun, nice way to give back to the community.”

The employees weren’t the only ones prepared to feed and welcome the hikers at the mountainside parking lot Thursday. Chris Dailey, Ashley Furness and Stephan Pouliot of New Hampshire also set up a table and lawn chairs.

Furness said she’d recently finished a 485-mile trail in Colorado that took her 35 days.

Pouliot, who hiked the AT in 2017, said it’s “a way to give back to people.” Others had done it for him when he was on the trail, he said.

For Kusper and Davidson, the hike continues. They have 200 miles left to reach the northern terminus at Mount Katahdin. After that, they plan to continue on the International Appalachian Trail, which goes from Mount Katahdin through New Brunswick, Canada, to the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec.

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