trail angel n. A person who leaves food and performs other acts of kindness for hikers.
Have you heard of a Trail Angel? What about a Funhog? Well this is a tribute to both.
- Thru-hiking is hiking a long-distance trail end-to-end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail in the United States and Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand.
- Funhog is a Letterboxer and a wonderful stamp carving teacher/mentor. She’s also a Trail Angel, which means she providing rides, treats and a welcome smile to thru-hikers across the country, most notably, ‘Balls and Sunshine’.
- Balls and Sunshine are a Father/Daughter Thru-hiking duo. In 2011, Sunshine became the youngest hiker to complete the 2660 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. They went on to hike the 2180 mile Appalachian Trail in 2012, and the Continental Divide Trail, a whopping 3100 miles, in 2013.
-Hiking all three long US trails is called the ‘TRIPLE CROWN’. Sunshine is the record holder for youngest to achieve this, beginning the PCT at age 10 and completing the CDT at age 13.
- Trail Magic comes in many forms. Imagine walking 20 or more miles every day and coming across a cooler of fruit/candy/beverages at a random point on a trail, or arriving at a road near a town where you need to buy resupply food, or just take a break (and shower!), to find an ‘Angel’ ready to drive you there. This is MAGIC !
- Funhog provided Balls and Sunshine with ‘Trail Magic’ on all three trails, making her a TRIPLE CROWN TRAIL ANGEL. If you’re curious, these are the points where she earned her title
On the PCT @ Whatum Lake, OR.
On the AT @ a random road crossing near Fairfield, Vermont.
On the CDT @ Cuba, NM.
- Funhog has not only provided Magic for Balls and Sunshine, she’s also been known to set off on the PCT with a backpack of goodies, or set up ‘shop’ at a trail crossing providing everything listed above, but more importantly, a wonderful Smile, Hugs, and Support to continue on. Once she even left a pie on trail… A PIE !? Yes, near a wonderful REAL town named ‘Pie-Town, New Mexico’.
- Did I mention that she is my Trail Angel as well? In 2012, I hiked the PCT. The Brightenbush Fire near Mt. Jefferson routed me off the official trail and off on a long detour. I was DELIGHTED to find my friend Funhog on this detour. It was a highlight of a 6 months long, 2660 Mile Journey.
For More information on Balls and Sunshine you can follow this post and read a bit about Funhog too!
Balls & Sunshine post from Cuba, NM on the Continental Divide Trail
Find The Boxes!
Find your way to Cascade Locks, OR. You can't miss the Bridge of the Gods, use this as a destination point. Feel free to park on the road in front of the Best Western/Columbia River Inn, or in the parking lot nearly under the bridge.
The 'on-ramp' to the toll-bridge wraps around a grassy park. If you're going for all three boxes (You'll have to cross the bridge for two) you can drive the ramp and park in the small lot half way to the toll booth. Head towards the road noise of I-84 & look for the trail sign for the "Pacific Crest Trail 400"
Start UP the hillside, just a few feet up the trail you'll see a Pacific Crest Trail Blaze on left hand tree. Now look for the next tree/blaze, yes there are two. Congratulate yourself and know that you're hiking southbound on the Pacific Crest Trail... It'll be a fun fact at parties to tell friends that you once hiked the PCT! 75 paces past, a steel angle fence post, continue on 30 more paces. There are 3 pines in a tight row on your right. Step just beyond the fence, away from the trail, in a V you'll find an angel.
(please cover properly and beware of muggles and thru-hikers passing your way)
Follow the ramp to the Toll Booth and pay $1 to cross, don't look down! you can see right through to the water! But don't fret, it's safe. Instead look out and enjoy the amazing view! You're NOW on the PCT! That's right, hikers walk right over the bridge on their way to Canada. (At 117 Ft above sea level, this is also the lowest elevation of the entire PCT. The highest, Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mnt range is 13,153)
Soon you can't go forward, so turn left on '14'. Pass the pond (or park here) and look to the Right for the continuation to the Pacific Crest Trail. It's well marked. Park near, and follow the trail from the road.
A few hundred paces and just up the incline, a large stump on your right holds the next Angel. Have you gone too far? Turn around, the sign is still there. Crawl up to that stump, the side away from the trail, here awaits the Appalachian Trail Angel
Continue up the trail, Canada Bound. Pass over one creek, two creeks, three creeks or more. Under the power lines a half mile from road, find double polls marked 090000-124. From here you can see and head straight for box. The moss covered boulder. step around, look down, and you've completed your search
Now you too have hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail and imprinted the Triple Crown.
Thanks for coming along on this adventure with me! And if you encounter a Funhog on the trail, pat her on the back and Thank her for her kindess and generosity she offers to those dirty thru-hikers :-)