Thank You, Stranger

Thank You, Stranger: A hiker was injured on the Superior Hiking Trail. A kind stranger stepped in

parker lindo
Minneapolis resident Parker Lindo on a hike in Colorado.
Courtesy of Parker Lindo

Has someone ever taken you by surprise by doing something kind that made your day a little easier? Your life a little fuller? Our new series, “Thank You, Stranger,” looks at those special people and their impact.

Today, we'll hear from Parker Lindo, who was an injured hiker on the Superior Hiking Trail. He got some help that inspired him to pay it forward.

MPR News Producer Ellen Finn talked with him:

“I sprained my ankle toward the end of a southbound thru hike attempt of the Superior hiking trail. I road walked to find service to arrange for transport for a few miles with no luck. Thankfully a family was out on their porch enjoying the weather. I explained what happened and asked to use their phone. The husband kindly offered me a lift to my car. I offered gas money for the incredible favor, but he declined. He said to pay it forward to the next person I see that needs help,” Lindo said.

“After eating some sad but incredible McDonalds I started the drive home. I saw a Northbound thru hiker I met a few days prior. He was walking into town to resupply. That was my chance to pay it forward. It can burn a ton of daylight resupplying on foot and suck being the only smelly hiker at a place, so I pulled over and offered him a lift. We spent hours in town and grabbed some food at Betty's pies. That was the grand finale to hundreds of miles of hiking alone. If I could, I wouldn't change the outcome. So thankful for that day.”

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: Let me ask you something-- has someone ever taken you by surprise by doing something kind that made your day a little easier, your life maybe a little fuller? Our new series Thank You, Stranger looks at those special people and their impact.

Today, we'll hear from Parker Lindo, who was injured while hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail. He got some help that inspired him to pay it forward. MPR producer Ellen Finn talked with him.

ELLEN FINN: Parker was at a turning point in his life. He had just turned 30. He was at a job in the Twin Cities that wasn't working out. And he just wanted a reset.

PARKER LINDO: Really loved backpacking. And I had planned on this big trip for a whole year.

ELLEN FINN: The trip was a through hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. That's more than 300 miles of hiking.

PARKER LINDO: My whole life was in front of me and I just had a whole lot to think about. So I couldn't ask for a better way to just clear my head and plan for what's next.

I was gearing up to finish a southbound through hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. And at that point, I'd been hiking solo for about 230 miles and very close to my goal. It rained recently, and the bugs were getting pretty bad on that section of trail that day-- and I was so close to finishing.

And my head was just in the clouds. I was thinking about how awesome it'd be to finish and reach that goal I was working towards. And I was just cruising.

ELLEN FINN: Suddenly, Parker slipped and fell.

PARKER LINDO: I heard a couple of pops. And unfortunately, I sprained my ankle pretty bad. 230 miles of hiking alone, I only had like 36 miles to go. I was thinking like how I feel when I look back on this moment-- am I good? Should I push it? Or should I rest a bit?

ELLEN FINN: Parker needed help. His ankle hurt a lot, but no one was around and his phone didn't have service.

PARKER LINDO: Being alone really amplified that experience.

ELLEN FINN: He decided to try to look for help or at least find cell service. He started to walk south along the highway.

PARKER LINDO: Thankfully, a few miles in, I saw a family that was just enjoying the weather on the porch. I'm walking up and I'm obviously been out for a few weeks at this point. I'm probably not looking very good.

ELLEN FINN: Parker decided it was time to shoot his shot. He told the family what had happened and asked if they had a phone he could borrow. The family sprung into action. And the father insisted that he drive Parker to his car, which was nearly 30 miles away.

PARKER LINDO: I was immensely grateful-- not only for that favor, but just for the fact that people are out there that are willing to go out of their way to help someone just because they need it. The man that drove me, I offered him gas money, but he told me, I'm not going to take your money. Just pay it forward to the next person you see that can use some help.

So I started the drive home, and I saw this northbound through hiker that I met briefly in passing a few days before. And he was walking to Two Harbors off the trail to resupply. And it can take a really long time. It can burn a lot of daylight going to resupply. And it kind of sucks being the only smelly hiker in a place.

So that was my time to pay it forward. I was like, I'm going to stop and offer this guy a lift. And we spent hours in town just getting stuff he needed. And we even grabbed some food at Betty's Pies.

ELLEN FINN: So in the end, Parker didn't finish the hike. He had only 30 miles to go. But instead of feeling like a failure, he felt something else.

PARKER LINDO: 230 miles of hiking alone, and the greatest part of that whole journey was just a selfless act of kindness from someone. Helping another person made what could have felt like a failure to me feel like a tremendous achievement.

ELLEN FINN: I asked Parker what he'd say to the family that helped him if he saw them now.

PARKER LINDO: Your actions is really inspired me to pay it forward. I'll never forget that day. And you and your family deserve the best. Just thank you for being there and doing what you did.

ELLEN FINN: I had to ask Parker one more question-- is he planning to ever finish that big hike?

PARKER LINDO: I am going to finish what I wasn't able to do. I'm more of a mathlete than an athlete. So that was enough hiking for me for that time. But I am going to finish what I wasn't able to do.

CATHY WURZER: That was Parker Lindo in our latest episode of Thank You, Stranger, a series about people helping people in unexpected ways. To see a photograph of Parker out on a hike, go to our website,

And if you've got a story about someone unexpectedly helping you out, let us know. You can email us at Or we have a storyline, you can call us 612-361-1252. Again, the storyline number 612-361-1252. That story, by the way, was produced by Ellen Finn and Melissa Townsend. Music is by St. Paul's own Dan Luke.

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