Sorry to write another post so quickly on the heels of my last trail update, but I leave town tomorrow, and the library is closing here in an hour or so. What I wanted to write about quickly is what I refer to as Trail Gremlins. They go by different names as well – Trail Trolls, Pole Trolls, Dirt People, etc. Either way, these Trail Gremlins are little creatures that live right alongside the trail. They are highly mischevious, and at every opportunity they get, they’ll try to grab hold of your trekking pole and hold it fast. This obviously results in some annoyance for the hiker. It’s as if the earth is trying to swallow up the trekking pole as you’re trying to continually move along. Sometimes the Trail Gremlin gets a good hold of the poles, sometimes it’s not much at all. I shall explain below.
So there are a couple of techniques to counter the grasp of the Trail Gremlins. If their grasp is weak, you can just turn the wrist inward while the pole is still out in front of you. This normally frees the tip of the pole, and you continue on your trek, no harm at all. If the Trail Gremlin gets a pretty good hold of the pole, the inward twist may not work. Your constant forward momentum will cause the pole to wind up still in the Gremlin’s grasp, but now behind your body. So your arm is outstretched backwards, like a wing. When in this situation, the way to free the pole is to twist the wrist in an outward manner while pulling upward. That should free the pole tip. Lastly, there are some occasions when the Trail Gremlin will get such a good hold that your countering actions fail completely. The pole will come out of your grasp and dangle from the lanyard on your wrist. If this occurs, the Gremlin has succeeded in his act, and recedes into the earth, never to be seen. No one likes when the Trail Gremlin succeeds.
Now, I’m telling you all of this because I had a bit of a crazy event happen the other day. I actually got an image of a Trail Gremlin while in the Smokies. I was taking some first person type video of me just walking down the trail – so it was really just the trail and some trees in the video as I moved forward, just so I could show what walking along the trail looked like. Just then, a Trail Gremlin grabbed hold of my trekking pole. My inward and outward twisting failed, and I was spun around with devastaging force as the lanyard caught my wrist. By chance, my camera was at the proper angle so that I caught the Gremlin as he receded back into his smelly lair. I looked at the video over and over, but was unable to make out much of it – I could only see the blurry face of the creature. I sentthe video to the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) for their study and analysis with the hopes that this would shed some light on the Trail Gremlin issue.
To my amazement, this was the first Trail Gremlin ever caught on either video or any imaging device according to the ATC. Through the fancy work of their tech folks, they were able to extract a high resolution image of the Gremlin from my blurry video. Below is what they found. They requested that anyone with information regarding the below image contact them directly. It is crucial that your reach out to them immediately if you have any information whatsoever. I’ll warn you, the image is somewhat disturbing, so I’ll place it a little further down on the page.