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Her gear was stolen on the Appalachian Trail. Then good Samaritans arrived

Kaitlin Gardino of Savannah, Ga., trekked 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her husky, Jango, when everything she had was stolen near Damascus, Va., friends on Facebook said. Good Samaritans donated hiking equipment so she and her dog can complete the trail to Maine.
Kaitlin Gardino of Savannah, Ga., trekked 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her husky, Jango, when everything she had was stolen near Damascus, Va., friends on Facebook said. Good Samaritans donated hiking equipment so she and her dog can complete the trail to Maine. Screen grab of WCYB video

Fellow hikers on the Appalachian Trail came to the rescue of a 23-year-old woman when someone stole all of her hiking gear near Damascus, Virginia, this month.

Kaitlin Gardino of Savannah, Georgia, trekked 400 miles of the trail with her husky, Jango, when everything she had disappeared, friends on Facebook said as they appealed for help.

She and Jango started on the trail April 5 at Springer Mountain in north Georgia — but even Jango's backpack was stolen, friend Josephine Johnson posted on Facebook on May 19.

"Completing this hike is Kaitlin's childhood dream, and I know I'd like to see her achieve that," Johnson said. "Quitting is not an option. And this incident is a minor setback. Kaitlin is hiking the Appalachian Trail all the way to Katahdin in Maine."

Saying her friend needed food and hiking gear and supplies, Johnson urged people to donate money on Venmo.

"As luck would have it," Johnson said in a follow-up post, the next day was "Trail Days" in Virginia. Her friends contacted NBC affiliate WCYB in Bristol, Virginia, urging the station to air a segment about Gardino's plight, Johnson said.

Yet, by the time the station ran its story that day, fellow hikers had already given hera sleeping bag, head lamp and a tent, while a store sold her a backpack at a huge discount, WCYB reported. A man also gave her $120 to stay at a "safe place" before she and Jango embarked on the final 1,800 miles of the trail.

"It's just crazy something that would make you lose your faith in humanity, could totally flip flop and be almost double the positive energy from the other side, and it's brought me to tears," Gardino told WCYB. The station's report has drawn 14,000 views on Facebook.

Her friend Johnson posted: "Kaitlin made the news, and she's on the trail. So much love."

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

Pat Stith just completed the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail.

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