Yogi: “Hey Boo Boo, I see a pic-a-nic basket.”
Boo Boo: “Yogi the park ranger does not want us bothering the humans”
Yogi: “We’re not bothering them, we’re entertaining them”.
On our trip to Mt. Katahdin last fall we had a chance to meet up with Bruce Grant, from MATC. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that he was friends with a retired park ranger who knew Grandma Gatewood. He explained that this park ranger believed that Emma was not only a great “Yogi practitioner” , but perhaps was the “Grandmother” of all trail “Yogi-ing”.
The concept of “Yogi-ing” on the trail was new to me. So I asked him to explain. He went on and told us that this was a technique for getting or motivating others to help you, without directly asking for it. Food, clothing, money, car rides, you name it. The key is to act innocent and slightly helpless, at least enough to get what you need when you are out of resources.
As the conversation above between Yogi and Boo-boo points out sometimes entertainment is the best way to get this kind of help. I was recently talking with “Fink” a south bound through-hiker from 2011. He told us his yogi story.
It seems that “Fink” and his friend were out of food and hungry. They had set up camp in the Shenandoah National Park. They were not far from a spot where day hikers and picnickers would come on nice days. So he and his friend decided to hang out and “share” their stories. In fact they shared them several times over the next couple of days being rewarded with hot meals and snacks for their great story telling. This is a sublime example of the art of “Yogi’.
Grandma Gatewood’s journal is filled with stories of others helping her. While she may not have documented her technique, she appears to be truly gifted in getting others to help her to accomplish her journey. Sometimes the best trail magic is being a good “yogi”.