Nate and his mom, Karen Luczynski, who says her family has stayed in touch with many of the hikers.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Trail angel Nate "North Star" Luczynski has been handing out trail magic to through-hikers long before the town became an Appalachian Trail Community.
"It is just important to help other people and I really started doing it one day because I was bored," Nate, age 11, said. "I went out to talk to hikers and now it is kind of a thing."
This was three years ago and what began as something different to do on a mid-summer day has turned into almost a ritual.
Almost every day, Nate makes his way down to the Cheese Press memorial or Diane's Twist ice cream shop where the Appalachian Trail and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail converge with his bag of trail magic and waits for hikers.
"They want everything -- Gatorade is gold they really don't prefer water because that is all they drink," Nate said. "They like sweets apples, oranges. Popsicles this summer were big."
Nate's mom Karen said as a lifelong Cheshire resident she has always been aware of the through-hikers and over the years she has offered hikers aid but not to the level her son does.
"I love that he does this," she said. "I grew up in Cheshire, so the hikers have always been here, and I know what time of year it is because you start to see hikers come through. It is just part of our culture."
It is not all about trail magic because Nate often just enjoys talking with the hikers.
"I have learned a lot about their favorite parts of the trail. I learned that the middle of the trail is where Harper's Ferry is … that is the halfway point," he said. "I have learned that there are wild ponies at the Grayson Highlands. They come right up to you and you can pet them."
Karen said she is surprised by how much Nate is learning about the trail and geography in general. She did admit that at first, she was a little nervous about Nate meeting up with strangers but said he has a good sense of people.
"When he first started we were a little nervous with him talking to total strangers, but he has a good head on his shoulders. He gets good vibes and knows who is OK and who is not," she said. "He is always in contact with us and there really hasn't been any issues."
Nate's reputation has spread across the trail and he has given more than just granola bars and Gatorade.
"This woman had slipped and fell and hit her head coming done from the cobbles," Karen said. "Nate was there and called us, so we were able to give them a ride to the hospital. They were ever so thankful, and she ended up getting a couple of staples in her head. It was pretty serious."
Nate has also lent his bike out to hikers who wanted to ride the rail trail and even brought them to his home to camp out in the back yard or use the bathroom.
Nate logs all the hikers he meets in a notebook. Each year, he starts a new notebook and to date has met hundreds of hikers.
He said they came from all walks of life and he has met people that work for the government, teachers, folks from out of the country and lots of firefighters. He said some folks have been hiking the trail for 40 years.
Nate utilizes social media and has created a Facebook page to keep in contact with many of his new friends or to keep track of where hikers may be on the trail.
"I went from having 50 or 60 friends on Facebook too I think like 170," Nate said. "I start talking to them and a lot of them have heard of me."
Nate said currently he is waiting for a hiker named Pappy to come through town. Pappy is 87 years old and is trying to set the record for the oldest person to hike the entire trail.
Karen said they have stayed in contact with many of these hikers.
"There are few that we met last summer that we have become really good friends with and we keep in contact with them," she said. "One of the guys that stayed here he contacted us and he wants to move here because he fell in love with the town."
Nate hopes this happens, so they can hand out trail magic together.
Nate said hikers always ask if he wants to hike the trail but for now he is just happy being a trail angel.
"I just enjoy it giving out trail magic makes them so happy," he said. "I say this to every single person that asks me: I don't really know, I like doing this for now. I am only 11 and I have time to think about it."
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