Trail Angel Advocates
The SHT has two non-section hikes. The traditional one starts at Martin Road Trailhead and is about 260 miles long. The total thru-hike starts at Wild Valley Road Trailhead and is about 310 miles long.
Whether one goes northbound or southbound (NOBO/SOBO) makes no difference. I’m a NOBO total thru-hiker.
Backpackers often chose the traditional option because the total thru-hike goes through Duluth, and backcountry campsites are strictly prohibited inside city limits.
Unlike the PCT, people along the SHT weren’t familiar with the term trail angel. Trail angels are people who help hikers along their way.
I have met many SHT trail angels who have helped me in various ways: meeting me on the trail, taking me to the store, and dropping me off at the same trail. A group showing up in solidarity to ensure safe passage through a non-friendly private section of the trail.
They have also taught me how to interpret the multiuse trail signs, made me dinner, and allowed me to camp out in yards—even on their date of birth.
But my trail angels have also been social justice allies. They have been educating themselves on what I’m doing, scouting my start route beforehand, demonstrating alongside me, and using social media to promote my journey and make others aware.
A plethora of people organized so that I could hike 50 miles. I imagine what it would take to bring a community together to help bus kids to the same trailheads for a day hike? Or for a neighbor to set up a few tents in their yard to have an inclusive backyard tent party?
Until then, I’ll party for the kids. Because with the help of these folks, I made it out of the city of Duluth!
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