The Dinsmores: Stevens Pass trail angels host hikers and give sage advice for 15 years

By Rudy Giecek

Fifteen summers ago, Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore were living in Skykomish, Washington, a small town 16 miles down Highway 2 from where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Stevens Pass. Jerry saw some folks in town that he felt needed some help. He thought they were homeless. After getting them back to their house, he heard their stories from the trail and realized he had picked up three PCT thru-hikers. One was a doctor and the other two were teachers—a long way from being bums.

Jerry sent these southbounders down the trail with a stack of his business cards. The hikers were like social media before it was around, handing out the cards to northbound hikers and explaining how generous the Dinsmores had been to them. That effort brought another 50 hikers by the Dinsmores’ place that summer, which would become their first summer as Trail Angels.

Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore. Photo by Cliff Hardin.

“2003 was the first year that Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore hosted PCT thru-hikers,” said Cliff “Cliffhanger” Hardin, a veteran PCT hiker and Triple Crowner. “Amy ‘Steady’ Robbins, Colin ‘Sunburn’ Mothersole, Janet ‘Shutterbug’ (Roberts) MacNeil and I were the first group to stay at Hiker Haven, and I had the honor of being the first hiker to sign their register. We sure did enjoy our couple of zero days there, and the Dinsmores invited us to the volunteer fire department’s annual cookout at Skykomish City Park. The food was great and they invited us to play.”

“After zero days at Hiker Haven,” Cliff says, “we were fully refreshed when we left Stevens Pass for the 180-mile hike to Manning Park. During the next week of hiking, I remember thinking that meeting Jerry and Andrea was one of the highlights of my PCT hike—and to this day it remains one of my best memories.”

Hikers used an old pay phone at Stevens Pass to call the Dinsmores and it was protocol for Jerry to go pick them up. He would take the hikers down to the post office to get their packages full of food and gear needed for the next section. They would rest up at the Dinsmores’ house and it was back to the trail the next day.

The Dinsmores (right) with Cliff and Carol Hardin. Photo courtesy of Cliff Hardin.

PCT and AT record holder Heather “Anish” Anderson remembers meeting Jerry in 2005. “I first met Jerry back when you used the payphone at Stevens Pass parking lot to call the number on a business card tacked to the wall. Andrea was visiting family in Idaho and Jerry let the six of us take over their adorable home in Skykomish while he stayed in their RV!”

The Dinsmores eventually relocated to the smaller town of Baring, 26 miles from Stevens Pass. They now have a huge shop which includes the hiker dorm and another outbuilding with a washer, dryer and shower.

One of the many ways Jerry and Andrea have helped hikers over the years is with trail logistics. Andrea regularly spends time on her computer researching weather or fire information. Her knowledge of current trail conditions has been key to the safety of many thru-hikers. She participates in multiple Facebook groups, sharing information or learning about new changes in her area.

“Andrea and Jerry have been simply wonderful at hosting hikers and giving sage advice about whether hikers can continue to Canada in the late fall with unpredictable weather,” says 2015 PCT thru-hiker Peggy “PegLeg” Rice. “I loved staying with them in 2012, and the most memorable thing was that Jerry repaired my hiking partner’s pole with miscellaneous screws from his workshop. I hope I’ll have a ‛HikerTrash’ sticker like Jerry’s someday.”

The Dinsmore hiker dorm is somewhat of a hiker museum. While visiting a few weeks ago, I got the chance to walk around and hear all the stories about the different relics in the dorm. A wedding dress hangs from the rafters, worn by a thru-hiker who had a different one for every PCT section. Monte Dodge’s old backpack and photo from his 1977 thru-hike are both hanging there as well. Jerry talks about the bunks he built, “Strong enough for the hikers!”

This year at an annual event in Colorado called The Gathering, the American Long Distance Hiking Association West (ALDHA West) awarded Jerry and Andrea with the Martin Papendick Trail Angel of the Year award. They received the award via Skype, and it was extremely emotional on both sides of the call. Andrea has been very sick this year and was only able to say a few words before laying back down—where she spends a lot of time. Jerry listened to hikers’ memories and told a few of his own. “Well, I’m not going to say it’s my last year because I’m still young,” Jerry told the appreciative crowd, “but we have had health problems.”

Both Jerry and Andrea stated that their daughter and grandson will be taking over the Dinsmore Hiker Haven after they are unable to keep up. Many old hikers will be sad when this day comes, though future hikers can look forward to meeting a new trail angel at Stevens Pass.

We at the PCTA would like to thank and congratulate Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore for their fifteen years as trail angels and for winning such a prestigious award from ALDHA West.


To hear more about the Dinsmores, give a listen to Rudy Giecek’s Cascade Hiker Podcast.