Albion-A few months ago, Sylvia (Syd) Dulaney walked through Victory Park and crossed paths with a trail hiker who had a backpack. “I thought to myself someone should offer him a welcome and maybe he would like to pitch his tent in the yard because he can’t in Victory Park.” So began Dulanley’s venture to become a host for trail users whether by the river, bike or hiking trails. She is now part of two groups that offer shelter or support to trail users: the facebook group North Country Trail Angels and http://www.warmshower.org, a site for touring bicyclists.
In February of this year, Albion was named an official trail town by the North County Trail Association. Michael Wilkey a volunteer with the North County Trail Association explained at the Festival of Forks booth that of the 11 national scenic trails the North County Trail is the longest of the National Park Service. By Albion being a trail town, hikers will know they are welcome and will find safe places to stay and can find restaurants. He adds that hikers will also see amazing architecture in Albion and the fork divide of the Kalamazoo river which they might not otherwise of seen. He added the trail brings visitors to Albion and offers opportunities to learn about the city’s history. Said Dulaney, “When you see someone walking with a pack, you know they are just passing through.” Referring to the hiking networks, “We are available to help them find a place to pitch their tent. We can offer them a bed and a hot shower.” Albion also connects to several other trails such as the Michigan Iron Belle Trail and the Calhoun County Trailway. Dulaney says she knows of at least five and that hikers aren’t the only ones. She hosted a bicyclist who was on a year and a half tour of the country.
In her short time of hosting, she has met fascinating people with great stories. Paula, a recent guest of hers, had hiked over 8000 miles across the country and back again doing interviews. According to Dulaney, “She is part of a group called grossnationalhappiness.org.” The idea of her hike is to promote the idea that citizens and governments should measure our success by asking the question, are people happy not by financial gain.
Dulaney’s home is on River St. and along the river. She says hikers have also found her by using google maps.
As for the future, she hopes to continue to welcome trail users to her home and possibly expand the ability for short term hikers to stake tents on her land since Albion is short of campgrounds at present.
But for now, she is happy to show hikers the best of Albion: hospitality and friendship.
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