When undertaking a long-distance hike, one of the most valuable resources a hiker can encounter is a kind person. These people are called Trail Angels. A Trail Angel is a kind and generous person who goes out of their way to assist and support hikers and backpackers on long-distance trails. Some of them are notable and have been working to help hikers for years, some have come and gone, and some are just in the right place at the right time to help. These people are often volunteers who want to give back to the hiking community or individuals who are simply passionate about the outdoors. They are one of the features that make the Pacific Crest Trail so special.
What makes someone a trail angel?
Trail Angels provide thru-hikers with a wide range of support, including rides to and from trailheads, food and water resupplies, first aid, and even a place to stay for the night. They sometimes set up makeshift camps or stations along the trail, providing refreshments, charging stations, and other amenities to hikers passing through. Trail Angels may also leave caches of food and water at strategic points along the trail to help hikers who are running low on supplies. These caches are called trail magic and are some of the best surprises a thru-hiker can stumble upon. It could be in the form of a cooler in the woods, beers floating in a creek, or even a bucket sitting next to the PCT with a sign on it, “For thru-hikers.”
What kind of support do trail angels offer?
While Trail Angels are often anonymous and don’t seek recognition for their deeds, they play an essential role in the hiking community. Long-distance hikes, especially the Pacific Crest Trail can be grueling and exhausting, and encountering a Trail Angel can provide much-needed motivation and support. Their generosity can make the difference between a hiker completing a trail or having to quit due to lack of resources or support. The food, rides, or refreshments are nice, but the biggest thing that trail angels offer is emotional uplifting. They show what types of selfless people exist in the world and really help reframe the world while on a thru-hike. If you can, consider offering to throw them some cash for their efforts so that they may pay it forward to another hiker.
How can you pay the kindness on a thru-hike forward?
Many hikers form strong bonds with Trail Angels and consider them to be a vital part of the hiking community. They often pay it forward by becoming Trail Angels themselves, providing support to future hikers and continuing the cycle of kindness and generosity.
Trail Angels are an essential part of the long-distance hiking experience. Their selflessness and generosity provide a lifeline to hikers when they need it most. Without the support of Trail Angels, many hikers would be unable to complete long-distance trails, and the sense of community and camaraderie that exists among hikers would be greatly diminished. Trail Angels are unsung heroes who deserve recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the hiking community. At the very least, say “thank you” when someone goes out of their way to make your adventure more special!