FAQ – Support Hikers

What to expect for support hikers

Who are support hikers?

A Pass to Pass (PtP) support hiker is a hiker who is familiar with backpacking and capable of carrying their own gear, food supplies, and extra, if necessary. They should be in good physical shape and be able to hike additional miles to help, if necessary.

A support hiker may be a family member or friend to a hiker with Parkinson’s disease (PD hiker) who has been accepted on a PtP hike. Being a support hiker may include the ability to check on the PD hiker throughout each day of the hike for fatigue, feelings, need for rest or food or water, and to make sure medications are taken on time.

A support hiker may be a strong hiker who is aware of Parkinson’s disease through family and friends who have it or had it or because they work with PD people.

A support hiker is willing to adjust their hiking speed to accommodate llamas (about 2 miles per hour) and PD hikers. They may be asked to hike extra miles or carry extra weight as needed by PD hikers.

What tasks do support hikers complete?

  • Help pack and weigh the llama panniers
  • Take turns leading the llamas along the trail
  • Water the llamas
  • Help someone set up a tent
  • Set up community water filter
  • Refill water to filter as needed
  • Pack garbage
  • Boil water for morning or evening meals
  • Dig a scat hole
  • Help a PD hiker maintain balance on rocky sections of trail or creek crossings
  • Tie or help with a PD hiker’s footwear

Although you may be linked to a certain PD hiker as their support hiker, you will be expected to help where needed.

How do I get selected as a support hiker?

Many PD hikers have a friend or family member who offers to be their support hiker and they are selected first, so if you know a PD person who wants to participate in a PtP hike, that is the best way to begin the process.

Some PD hikers are strong hikers and they do not bring a support hiker they know. Since we try to have 4-5 PD hikers per hike and at least 3-4 support hikers, this allows other support hikers to join us. Many of our trip leaders are also support hikers and do not have PD.

If you are flexible about when you can hike, that makes it easier to slot you into open positions. It also helps because life and PD itself often require changes in hikers’ plans and we frequently have last-minute openings.

If you sign up early, you may be put on the alternate list for support hikers as we wait to fill the hike with as many PD hikers as possible. You will continue to receive updated information about our hikes, but you may not be confirmed for a particular hike at first.