Humanitarian hikers stop in Summit County |

Humanitarian hikers stop in Summit County

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News
Special to the Daily/Andy HeldKirk and Cindy Sinclair stopped in Summit County this week during their 5,000 mile hike cross-country for humanity.

Connecticut residents Kirk and Cindy Sinclair’s stop in Summit County was a bit of a detour.

The couple was in the midst of a 5,000 mile humanitarian hike across the country when this past week’s chillier temperatures threw them for a loop.

“When we got to Copper Mountain we should have been continuing on along the Colorado Trail, but we met a trail angel,” Kirk said. “He told us they were expecting a lot of snow up at higher elevations and if we wanted an alternative, he’d find a place for us in Frisco.”

That “trail angel” was Summit County resident Andy Held. He overheard their story at a Copper coffee shop, and after realizing the couple was camping, Held and his wife, Wendi, put the Sinclairs up for a night at the Frisco Hotel.

“Their mission is admirable, and it’s a pretty neat thing to do,” Held said. “In a nutshell, they’re just walking across the United States to try to get in touch with communities on the local level.”

The Sinclairs started their hike this past May in San Francisco. They’re walking all the way back to their home in Norfolk, Connecticut – a destination they plan to reach this coming May – and speaking to groups about housing, health and hunger along the way. The Sinclairs meet as many people as they can, collect stories, and try to further their message that humility, faith and courage are needed to improve community involvement and solve problems. Kirk calls himself “the hiking humanitarian.”

“When we say we believe in humanity, we see this,” Kirk said, referring to the Held’s gift. “People want to help.”

The couple mostly speaks at Lions Club groups about their mission (they’re members themselves) but they’ve been lining up more talks at colleges to encourage youth. Kirk said community involvement among youth is down to 6 percent from 13 percent in 1979.

The Sinclairs keep a blog, logging the miles they have walked – usually about 15 a day – where they stopped, and how many people they met each day. Sometimes they only meet two or three, sometimes 27. Among the stories that stands out to Kirk: a single mother from Utah whose house had burned down. She took the Sinclairs to her parents’ bed and breakfast.

The couple have been avid hikers their whole lives; Cindy was the first woman to complete the Continental Divide Trail in 1985. Kirk said family members weren’t really surprised when they cashed in a retirement fund and announced their trip – “People know us as being eccentric.”

But, they do feel like they’re making a difference. And, at the same time, they get to do what they love most: hike.

“It just feels normal,” Cindy said. “It’s just what we do.”

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