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The Kindness of Strangers
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Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
The Kindness of Strangers on 01/24/2011 17:44:58 MST Print View

Reading Jack Haskel's "Bad Behavior" thread... it's unfortunate that most all of us will encounter rude a-holes at camp or on the trail at some point... but what about experiencing the kindness of strangers while at camp or on the trail?

A few years ago, I was hiking up a 'moderately strenuous' trail -- 7.5 miles up and 7.5 miles down. I hiked up with no problems whatsoever (took a leisurely 3 hours) but somehow busted both knees coming down. It was all I could do to shuffle down in baby steps and even that was excruciatingly painful. At the end, it took 7 hours of hobbling to reach trail head.

It was also 100F+ with no shade. Not planning for a 10-hour hike, I ran out of water halfway. I encountered one hiker on his way up -- and asked if he had water to spare. He generously agreed. Then, without saying much of anything, he went back down the way he came (i.e. descended the trail ahead of me). A few hours later, as I continued making my v-e-r-y s-l-o-w descend -- I saw him coming up again! My Good Samaritan had gone all the way back to the trail head, filled up his bottles, and hiked up again to give them to me -- all in 100+F heat!! WOW!

Care to share your Trail Angel / Good Samaritan stories?

Edited by ben2world on 01/24/2011 21:16:30 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 01/24/2011 18:11:00 MST Print View

I was on Yocum Ridge on Mount Hood in Northern Oregon.

I was going to get water but I had some left over which I offered to someone who had camped nearby. They gave me half a tangerine back which I didn't really need or even want but when someone offers you a gift it's impolite to refuse it. It was tasty.

No big deal but typical of friendly exchanges I encounter in the wilderness.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 01/24/2011 18:13:15 MST Print View

"Care to share your Trail Angel / Good Samaritan stories?"

YOu're such a party pooper, Ben. Haven't you ever read "Julius Caesar"? "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones". ;)

Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
too many to list... on 01/24/2011 18:32:14 MST Print View

Just yesterday I had my uncle show up at my house with something I never thought I'd see again: a sketchbook that I had lost at the Pawling, NY train stop on the Appalachian trail. A hiker found it a full month after I had lost it, tracked down my uncle via a list of names I had for mailing postcards that was tucked in the back, and mailed it back via my uncle.

There were quite a few moments of disappointment with humanity while hiking the AT... but for every moment of letdown there were countless acts (both large and small) of kindness from strangers.

I've had people give me gear, let me stay in their homes while they weren't even there, share their meals with me while they were entertaining guests (and I hadn't showered in a week)... so much kindness. I have some serious pay it forward on my to-do list now.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 01/24/2011 19:20:04 MST Print View

This is an excerpt from an earlier post of mine on a different thread but I believe it bears repeating and fits this thread well.

Two years ago "Lazarus" and I were assisted by some trail angels in the guise of college age day hikers. We were dehydrated and they shared their water with us. They were traveling in the opposite direction on the same trail. We thanked them for their kindness and continued down the trail. Lazarus was in the lead and remarked that he was on spider web duty with his hiking staff. I called a halt to the hiking and asked Lazarus, "How can you be knocking down spider webs when those day hikers just came from the same direction that we are walking?"

At the time that we met these "angels" we were about 4 miles from the nearest water source and had about a pint of water between us due to the drought conditions on the AT above Hot Springs in June of 2008. College kids on a day hike or real trail angels, be your own judge. But for their kindness and generosity we would have been in serious trouble.

Party On,


Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Kindness of Strangers on 01/25/2011 08:43:48 MST Print View

I was hiking the Northville-Placid Trail with my dog and planned to stay at a lean-to one night. When I arrived, I noted that a couple had already "moved in" with their dog. I prepared to move on to give them some privacy, but they insisted that I stay. I looked in confusion at their mound of gear. In addition to their traditional camping gear, they were carrying an inflatable raft (not a packraft), a sledge hammer, an axe, a dog bed, a box of hot dogs and burgers, 2 cases of beer, and a bottle of Jameson's Irish whiskey. The nearest road was 8 miles away.

They were extremely courteous and very willing to share. That night, I sat in the lean-to watching our dogs play together while I sipped Jameson's out of my Ti mug and ate one of their hot dogs. It was a night I will always remember. To each their own.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 01/25/2011 18:11:14 MST Print View

Really, with the unimaginable amount of bad behavior and misery in civilization,
Kids hacking at trees, apathetic or clueless campers leaving trash, and partying all sound like good problems to have. Especially when they are so few and far between.
Ive experienced so much kindness big and small on the trail that I shamefully can't remember it all.
Hikers driving me many miles to stay at their home, fishing ranch hands offering spiced rubbed trout, sharing stoves when I missed a day of resupply, countless rides to and from trail heads, Store owners throwing in small freebies, camping families inviting me to dinner ect, ect ...Thanks

Brandon Sanchez
(dharmabumpkin) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Mtns
The Kindness of Strangers on 01/25/2011 18:47:10 MST Print View

When I was hiking the JMT in 2009

Deleted: most inappropriate for this Forum.
Please - we have minors reading these postings: think twice.

Roger Caffin
Online Community Monitor
Backpacking Light

Edited by rcaffin on 03/12/2011 15:29:53 MST.

brent driggers
(cadyak) - MLife

Locale: southwest georgia
that IS kindness on 01/25/2011 18:57:50 MST Print View


Edited by cadyak on 01/25/2011 18:59:17 MST.

Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Trail Angels on 01/25/2011 19:17:01 MST Print View

I was not far out of Neels Gap on the AT in "03. My 77 year old mother had been sick, so on top of a ridge, I called home and found she was in serious condition in the hospital. I encountered a middle-aged couple coming toward me and asked about local road crossings. They were just out for an evening stroll. They told me the next road was no good for hitching, but insisted on turning around with me and going to Tesnatee Gap, where they had parked. They stopped home to feed the dog, then took me all the way to Alpharetta, the northernmost stop of the Atlanta Metra system (over 60 miles). They told me how to use the Metra to get to the airpost, gave me a CD of religious music the husband had performed himself (it was pretty good), and we exchanged email addresses. I was in my mother's hospital room in Pittsburgh less than 16 hours after finding out she was in the hospital. Via email, they arranged to pick me up at Alpharetta when I got back from Pittsburgh, drove me to several different outfitters to pick up a fuel cannister, then dropped me back at Tesnatee Gap. Amazing people!

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 01/25/2011 20:18:43 MST Print View

I have witnessed a lot of trail magic over the years. First is the off trail help. People offering hospitality of transportation, meals, or a place to sleep. Often these folks have gone extra distance. Not just giving a ride when it's on the way, but maybe detouring a couple hours including stopping at the ranger station and then the trail head. Not feeding people in a convenient way, but hoofing a cast iron griddle several miles in to cook pancake and bacon for thru hikers passing by, I could go on.

Hiker to hiker, there are the little things: giving advice about an upcoming section, sharing little supplies (water, first aid, bug spray, fuel, "extra" food). I have seem groups rearrange their food so they could give food to someone who had lost there. Often the sharing wasn't out of surplus, the folks sharing were going to run a bit hungry until the exited or resupplied. I have seem people pitch in to help others exit. The most recent was a group of three stranger who helped a man and his dog exit after the dog had hurt his foot. Started with people sharing first aid supplies. When it was clear that the the aid + booties made from foam and duct tape where not going to be enough, we split the guys gear among us, so he could carry fido. All of us changed our plans because we were moving a lot slower than we would have just hiking.


Edited by verber on 01/25/2011 20:21:15 MST.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 01/25/2011 23:47:10 MST Print View

Being a long distance hiker, I've experienced some truly exceptional kindness from strangers. There are multiple people who maintain extra HOUSES for hikers to use for free. In terms of monetary sacrifice, it doesn't get much more incredible than that.

In other spots, acts like picking me up, dropping me off, cooking me meals, doing my laundry, giving me gifts, money, love, water, sodas, beer,... The act of trail angelling is remarkable. Trail Angels have driven people thousands of miles and put hikers up for months. It's remarkable.

This thread has inspired me to go look through my photos of trail magic. Thanks.

A shoutout to Tin Man, owner of We ran into him in the Winds this summer. In a quick minute, he'd decided to send us care packages to help us on our way. Thanks for the stoves, wind screens, fuel bottles, and food! I'd buy from him in a heart beat. Nice guy!

Tinman, an angel of a dude.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
climb on 01/26/2011 02:49:34 MST Print View

ive had climbers i met at the crag lend me gear so that i didnt die ... and ive done the same as well

theyve helped me retrieve stuck ropes/gear ... and i do the same when i get the chance

beta is always appreciated as well

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Trail Angels on 01/26/2011 10:08:34 MST Print View

This is my favorite trail angel/act of kindness I've seen in the backcountry:

I was staying with some horsepacker friends at their private inholding in the Golden Trout Wilderness. They had a few other friends staying for a couple of days as well that had packed in seperately from various trailheads.

On the second morning, fairly early, a trio of horsepackers stumbled upon the property. They looked to be in bad shape: cold, wet, tired and lost. I can't recall where they entered from but they managed to get themselves all turned around and were more than a day's ride from where they were trying to get to- they'd been traveling in the wrong direction! Doh!

We fed them, got them warmed up, and then one in our group, a single woman who's a pretty gnarly backcountry horse packer, who had rode in alone partially in the dark the night before, packed up her stuff and escorted them out to her rig parked on the west side of the sierras. She loaded up their stock and drove them around to their rigs parked somewhere on the east side, dropped them off, then drove back to the west side of the sierras, parked her rig for the night at the trailhead and slept in the trailer with her horse. Early the next morning, she rode back in to join us back at camp!

That goes way above and beyond the call of duty!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Trail Angels on 01/26/2011 11:58:55 MST Print View

I was thinking Ben....the couple we met back in 2007, at Lolo Pass near Mt. Hood and they gave us all that cold water they had in their van. You remember that? Very nice indeed.

A couple years on two trip with Hoosierdaddy we ended up bailing - first one was due to bad snow/trees down. It just wasn't fun anymore. We encountered a couple who gave HD,me and Ford a ride not just to town but drove us out to the highway a considerable distance to where his car was (PCT hiking) and refused to take any gas money. On the second time we were in a remote section of the PCT and HD got sick the night before. We ended up on a remote logging road coming up from Eastern Wa. A hunter picked us up and drove us all the way to Western Wa on some pretty sketchy roads that were only open due to hunting season and took us out to just below Greenwater, Wa - where my husband picked us up - the hunter had also lent us his in truck cell phone amplifier so we could call him.

I have tried to return the favor by doing trail angeling when I can the past couple years.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Trail Angels on 01/26/2011 12:45:47 MST Print View

Two major events for me:

One was last year while hiking the Superstition Wilderness. My fiancee had blown out her knees to the point that I carried her pack one day and still only made 4 miles. We finally got to a section of the trail that hooked up with a very remote parking lot. After waiting around for several hours, a couple of guys on ATV's came by and we flagged them down. After explaining our situation, they took us down the Arizona mountains to their truck, and drove us to a place where we could rendezvous with someone we knew. Saved our butts.

The other was last summer in Glacier NP. After our horseshoe shaped hike, we were dozens of miles from our car. A family was kind enough to take us partway, and a passerby took us the rest of the way.

We try to return the favors when we can.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
cold chillin on 01/31/2011 13:02:05 MST Print View

in August i did a 28 out and back on the AT in Maryland. i wanted to try out the new shelter at Raven Rock and knew i was going to need to carry water with me up the big climb from the south. water was becoming a major issue as most of the springs were dry. trail angels had dropped sealed gallon jugs at several of the major road crossings and that really helped.

i didn't want to hog the water at one spot that i knew would have some SOBO'ers looking to use since the spring there was bone dry. my hunch was right, i came across a group of 4 women about an hour later and were very happy with my water report. they told me that there was two sealed jugs in the weeds at the road crossing before my big climb... at least when they went past a few hours before.

i made it to the road crossing with just about a liter left. i propped myself up against the guard rail along the road and started to take a drink and eat an apple before i filled up and then climbed up. off to my left was a parked car. i saw the door open and a guy walking over to me with a gallon jug of water. he asked me if i could use it, they brought several along for a day hike and left it in the cooler. in the cooler. in August. in humid Maryland.

i filled up my bottles and walked over to give them back the rest. they told me i was welcome to it all so as i proceeded to dump some over my head two guys come out of the woods and they looked like they could use some ice cold water. there was about 1/3 of the gallon left and they were very happy to get some of it.

across the road in the weeds i passed the 2 sealed jugs and 3 empties the ladies had promised. the next morning i passed the water jugs and there sat 5 sealed jugs.

angels i tell you. angels.

Edited by asciibaron on 01/31/2011 13:14:00 MST.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
Re on 03/11/2011 11:00:52 MST Print View

My first real backpack trip since scouts, I was 19 when I went to the Adirondacks for the first time. I was one of the few unfortunate ones to have rented the Bear Vault about one week after the bears discovered the faulty lids. I lost all my food, literally every crumb of it. So the people I shared the lean to with shared their food with me, asking only that I do the same in the future (which I do as often as possible).

The most incredible and surreal experience was when a group of a dozen Korean-American hikers showed up at the otherwise empty lean to I had to myself in the Catskills. Knowing already that some people were not squeezing in, I vacated my spot so one of the middle aged moms had a spot. They were so thankful that they shared dinner with me. Not sure if this how all Koreans hike, but they then busted out an overwhelming plethora of foods, from fresh vegetables to rice and meats, all authentically prepared. Ohhhhh godddd that was so good!! Best I've ever eaten in the woods, hands down. Im not sure how to post pics, but if you hit the link to my flickr, you can see some shots of the feast.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 03/11/2011 12:13:19 MST Print View

I have been the recipient of so much trail magic that I'm convinced that hiking is an act of magic itself.

Here are just a few just so my post isn't totally boring.

I was planning to hike from Santa Barbara to the PCT starting Memorial Day. I poured over routes and finally came up with one that would work. I posted it online and out of the blue some guy was surfing the web trying to find out if anyone had hiked a similar route as he had just done. His route was the same as mine. He sent me a water report which I carried with me for the 100 miles in the blazing heat. So many times I might have just kept going rather than fill up. His water report saved me.

There was a period while hiking between about Mt. Hood and White Pass on the PCT where I had needs and wants. They kept getting met. For example, I sat on my sunglasses so I needed new sunglasses. I found some in a tree! I was tired of my big sun hat and wished I had a ball cap, especially an orange one. Voila! An orange ball cap hanging on a stick. I showed it to another hiker a few days later and it turned out to be his and a very sentimental hat to him. I gladly gave it back because I realized that it was not magic meant for me but for him. He was a much slower hiker than me but he appeared in Manning Park and together we celebrating the completion of my hike, laughing over the story of that hat, among other things.

I was hiking the PCT and struggling with loneliness and feelings of wanting to quit the trail. After a really hard day I saw some other hikers and just burst into tears. One of those hikers was actually a counselor and he even had this worksheet kind of thing. Just when I needed a counselor, I got a real one.

I have found that if you expect magic, you find it. I carry what I need and I plan as well as I can, but I no longer try to plan every single detail of my hikes and I try to leave myself open to serendipity. So many times things will work out in ways I couldn't have planned that I do leave some of my plans in an "up-for-grabs" state.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: The Kindness of Strangers on 03/11/2011 12:59:42 MST Print View

Voila! An orange ball cap hanging on a stick. I showed it to another hiker a few days later and it turned out to be his and a very sentimental hat to him. I gladly gave it back because I realized that it was not magic meant for me but for him. "

Piper -- This magic called "the kindness of strangers" happens ALL THE TIME when hiking and traveling. To the guy who thought he lost his cap -- YOU were the magic for him that day! :)