Backpacker Radio 105 | Miss Janet the Legendary AT Trail Angel

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by legendary Appalachian Trail trail angel, Miss Janet. 

We learn how cute boys were her gateway back to the trail in the 70s, the history of how people learned about and communicated around the trail, and why she’s dedicated so much of her life to helping AT hikers.  We also touch on some hot button issues surrounding the trail, including when trail magic crosses the line, the impact of partying on the trail, and what she sees as a solution to the abundance of trash in some of the more popular areas.

We wrap the show with a triple crown of bad farts, Chaunce and Badger answer some listener questions, and who do you think you are? I am!

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Interview with Miss Janet

QOTD: What has been your best trail magic experience? Are fish worth it? 

00:16:21 – Pop Quiz – what year did Miss Janet and Badger meet? 

00:17:05 – Can you tell me about your upbringing and the confluence of getting involved with the AT? 
00:18:22 – Why were you afraid of the first hiker you saw on the AT? 

00:19:55 – Do you remember what year it was the first time you met an AT hiker? 

00:22:50 – What interesting things happened on the AT in 1985?

00:26:38 – Is your mom still in Erwin today? Is she still part of the AT experience? 

00:29:36 – What happens in between you being introduced to the AT and you opening  your own hostel?

00:32:30 – So you were surprised by the sheer amount of hikers when you moved back to Erwin?

00:36:14 – When you started your hostel were there enough hikers to support two hostels? 

00:40:35 – What year did you start your hostel?

00:41:08 – How did people know which hostel to go to in the late 90’s?

00:42:48 – Why were you banned from the email list?

00:47:56 – How many people drop out by the time they hit Mountain Crossing?

00:50:58 – What are people’s reasoning for not registering with the ATC?

00:54:55 – How do you calculate how many people are vlogging their AT hike? 

00:55:41 – Have you noticed that people are starting early and earlier every year? 

00:57:27 – Would you advocate for a daily cap on the AT like the PCT? 

01:01:03 – Can you talk about that photograph that came out last year with all the trash on Max Patch?

01:02:02 – Are there efforts made by trail angels to relay the importance of LNT?

01:04:58 – Don’t leave out styrofoam coolers if you aren’t coming back for them.

01:07:14 – What are your thoughts on the difference between trail magic and hiker feeds? 

01:14:06 – Have you noticed that at every major road crossing there’s so much trail magic that hikers have come to just expect it? 

01:17:37 – Have you noticed thru-hiker entitlement as time has gone on?

01:23:43 – How would you define the AT experience?

01:26:30 – How would you define what an AT thru-hike looks like? 

01:35:31 – is there any consistent theme to the gap between what people are expecting and what they end up actually experiencing? 

01:40:42 – How often do you end up being the AT therapist?

01:43:40 -How often do you think hikers get off because they are bored?

01:47:10 – Can you bridge the gap between Miss Janet’s hostel and the Miss Janet that trail angels up and down the AT?

01:49:30 – How much of the trail had you hiked prior to that? 

01:54:15 – Would you trade your hiking style for making it all the way to Katadhin?  

01:55:58 – How did you go from hostels to doing traveling trail angeling? 

01:58:00 – What is it about the trail that keeps you coming back? What is it that you love about the people and culture? 

02:09:17 – Where can people find Miss Janet? 


Trek Propaganda 

Triple Crown of Bad Farts

Listener Q&A

Mail Bag

5 Star Review

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Comments 3

  • Diane Soini : May 30th

    I enjoyed this podcast a lot. I have not hiked the AT and have never heard of Miss Janet before, but I really appreciated her perspectives. I listened while I was on a solo trip about 60 miles away from the PCT, thinking about all those hikers only a few days away from me while the footprints I followed were from bears, and she opened my mind when she said that for some people sleeping outside is the most wilderness they’ve ever experienced, and that when people say they want a more wilderness experience what they really mean is they want to be alone.

    You should interview my mother who was a trail angel on the PCT for several years (if she’d do it). Her tail angel name was Piper’s Mom and she lived near Chester. She kept a cooler on Highway 36 and would regularly go out there to pick up hikers and take them home and feed them. She would take pictures of everyone she met. As the trail became more popular and she became too old, she stopped doing it, but she got the town of Chester to notice that they were a trail town and now others have taken over the task of helping the hikers. She has moved to the Oregon coast and is no longer a PCT trail angel. It would be cool if you had a show where you interviewed several PCT trail angels like my mom, the less iconic ones who nevertheless tried to make a difference. I doubt someone like my mom could fill up so many hours of talking, though.

    Diane “Piper” Soini, PCT LASHER.


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