Fowler-O'Sullivan Foundation

Tips from a Mother

Hello all…My name is Sally, and my son, Sherpa, is a missing hiker from the awesome PCT Class of 2016. You will see me on here saying Mom things from time to time.  Please know, I only have your well-being and your family’s in mind. 

Time grows closer for many of you to get started on, what I hope, is an amazing journey! I wish you a safe and fulfilling experience! As a hiker’s Mom on the receiving end of a worst case scenario, I cannot help but offer reminders of safety.  Though they might be redundant, I feel the need to say them again! 

“Please don’t get annoyed…I’m a Mom
just keepin’ it real.”

— Sally Fowler, Sherpa’s Mom

Hopefully, you have decided to carry a SPOT, inReach or whatever GPS device you find fits your needs and have left instructions behind if you need to call for help.

Another piece of advice that is tough to hear (not meant to scare anyone) is to be a responsible adult.  Think about getting a Will made, appoint a medical power of attorney, a Living Will, and what your wishes are for eternity if the worst case scenario happens.

Very tough to talk about or think about, but may I remind you, you are heading into nature and rough terrain.

Things happen!

This is not only for your sake, but for the sake of those left to make decisions for you and to clean up what you leave behind.

With privacy and HIPPA laws, your parents, sibling, spouse, or significant other can’t always get information easily or make decisions for you medically.

None of us are immune to these possibilities. If you think life is hard,  you haven’t cleaned up a death. Death is messy for those left behind to take care of things. Just take the steps needed in advance.

You can look this stuff up online and do it for free. Make out a Will, even if you don’t own anything except your hiking gear! You need to state a beneficiary.

“If you are capable of planning a five month, 2650 mile hike, you are capable of taking care of these adult things, even if it is in a simple format inside an envelope no one ever has to open.”

— Sally Fowler


Come up with a “in case you don’t hear from me in 2 weeks plan.” Pick a friend or family member to respond if you aren’t heard from within a predesignated time frame.

I know my “invincible” son, Sherpa, wouldn’t have taken all of this advice…some of it probably, but not all of it. Afterall, as he reminded me, he was a grown ass man. I just wish he would have thought of doing some of these things.

Kris is proof…bad things happen to good, experienced people. When he started in So Cal on May 8, 2016, he had no idea or intention of going missing in October in Washington and neither should you.

Just be prepared. 

I wish you an amazing journey. I can’t wait to see the awesome pictures of the incredible views and dirty smiling hikers! Be safe. Have a blast, take care of these things and don’t think about them anymore! Love to all the hikers!  
Signed….Sherpa’s Mom. — with Kris Fowler.💕


sally fowler.jpg


Sally Fowler

AKA “Trail Mom”

Tips for Thru-hikers

None of this is designed to make you feel any type of “conforming to society” or to be bogged down by rules. Instead, it is meant to possibly save your life and protect the safety of SAR teams and fellow hikers by limiting the search area if, God forbid, you need rescuing. Please know, it will be fellow hikers risking it all to look for you, so make it as easy as possible for them to find you….for them and for YOU. 

*Please sign all the books/registers along the way. This is for your safety, and to me, is a badge of honor to be in those log books. If you go missing, it will help to narrow the search.

*Please leave family members your itinerary, and if you shipped supply packages out, please leave a list of addresses, the ETA and phone numbers to each place you have shipped them to.

*Leave behind a list and pictures of your gear to include colors and name brands. Also include the type of phone you have, the color and who your cell phone provider is. 

*Tell someone how you are navigating. Half mile maps, an App., etc. It will help to know what you are using if they have to look for you. 

*Tell someone back home your trail name. 

*In a sealed envelope, leave all of your passwords to your phone, computers, etc., including your Google account in case your phone needs tracked. Also include bank accounts and passwords so someone can check to see if and where you have had any activity if you go missing. 

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