Connecting Positively With Trail Angels

I was in the car with Lynn and he was driving me to REI from Wrightwood, about a half hour away. My air mattress had a slow leak and I needed to replace it, as well as my water filter. I had called Lynn the day before, as I had heard he was a trail angel in town that often gave rides to REI.

“Call me tomorrow morning and I may be able to take you,” he had kindly said to me.

I was happy to wait. I was staying with two other trail angels that night, a lovely couple named Lou and Tawna. After a night of snow and heavy wind at Guffy Campground about five miles south of Wrightwood, I was extremely thankful to be welcomed into their home for a hot shower, a delicious home cooked meal, and a warm night sleeping in their RV.

Superstar angels Lou and Tawna in Wrightwood.

The next morning Lou dropped me off in town at the local coffee shop, The Village Grind. They offer a free cup of coffee to thru-hikers and I was content sitting on the porch in the sunshine, letting it infiltrate into my bones to save for later.

Lynn picked me up around one o’clock and we chatted away about life while driving to REI. I told him how I had been fortunate to stay with other trail angels while on my hike: Laura in Idyllwild, Rachel in Big Bear Lake, Lou and Tawna the night prior, and now him and his wife, Maile.

Trail angels par excellence Lynn and Maile in Wrightwood.

He asked me how I reach out to trail angels, and he shared some of the ways hikers contacted him. Lynn also told me there are some people these days who are posing as thru-hikers, but actually aren’t, just so they can stay with trail angels. He informed me this is somewhat alarming for the trail angel community, finding out non-hikers are in their homes.

Lynn and I talked more and he suggested I write a post about the ways to connect with trail angels, for the benefit and well-being of both hikers and the angels themselves.

Trail Angels Want To Help—Really!

“When a hiker comes to stay with me, I ask what he or she needs. Then I do my best to help,” Lynn shared.

He went on to say how being a trail angel is the coolest thing ever. Trail angels are doing all of the amazing things they do because they care and because they want to. Lynn and Maile started as angels a few years back when a hiker at the local hardware store was suffering severely with infected blisters. Maile was an EMT and a caregiver, so her expertise and passion to help was genuine. That’s how it began and if you stay with Maile and Lynn, at some point you’ll find yourself in the chair with Maile inspecting your feet. I was pretty surprised when she called me over after treating the trenchfoot of another hiker who she had on bed rest for a few days, to then give an eye to my feet with all of her medical equipment. Thankfully I got an A rating since I’d only had one blister and some calloused toes.

All the angels I’ve ever stayed with have told me how much they get out of our being there, hearing our stories and adventures. It’s like having new entertainment all the time. On my side, I love staying with trail angels because I learn more about the community they live in and their relationship with the PCT. Laura in Idyllwild smiled and said that being a trail angel was helping her karma. Don’t feel shy calling them for help, or asking if they will host you for a night. They wouldn’t be doing what they do if they didn’t.

The hostess with the mostest: Laura and me in Idyllwild.

Introduce Yourself

I like to call or email a trail angel a few days prior to coming into town, to introduce myself and ask if they would be open to hosting me. If I email, I tell them a little about myself and provide my website so they can check me out. Lynn told me he had one couple send a picture of themselves while on trail, which he said was a great idea to show credibility of being a real hiker.

See, I’m a real hiker on trail!

Most trail angels don’t mind if you call the day of getting into town, because sometimes they don’t know if they’ll have room till then if they host often. I personally like trying to reach out ahead, but that’s just me.

You can find contact lists for trail angels of the PCT in an article published here on The Trek, as well as the website: www.trailangellist.org

Give Back

Many trail angels will not accept donations and make this very clear. It can be nice though to buy them flowers or chocolate when you are at the grocery store doing your resupply, you can offer to tidy the kitchen or cook a shared meal, or see if there is some chore you can assist with.

Some of the bigger trail angel hostels or homes will accept donations and in places where it is suggested, please do so. If you can afford a burger and beers while in town, you can afford to donate to a trail angel so the goodness keeps going for the next hiker. One stellar angel I met named Ghost picked me up twice when I was hitching in and out of Julian, and he told me I could donate to the Warner Springs Community Center on his behalf in exchange for the ride.

Saying thank you and showing appreciation goes a long way, even though these gracious souls aren’t doing it for recognition. The main thing Lynn wanted me to emphasize was that being a trail angel is a joy. Doesn’t it always feel so good to give? We are so blessed as thru-hikers to have this opportunity to connect with such magical souls along the trail. Enjoy this gift.

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Comments 1

  • J R : May 27th

    What a Joy it is to hear about People who Truly Enjoy Sharing what they have With Others. I wonder who gets the most Joy the Hiker or the Trail Angel? Thank You.

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