Trail Marshall
Trail Marshall

Trail Marshall

Regular price $11.00
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Contains: One 2”–3” String Doll character with a double-sided fabric nametag, keyring, and lobster claw (pictured below left)

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Hello fellow fans and followers of Trail Marshall!

This is Kristen, owner of Kamibashi and a huge fan of Trail Marshall! My guess is that a lot of us have the same story of the beginning of our friendship with TM: I found his Facebook page one day, or rather some algorithm found Trail Marshall FOR me, at some point last year during his second thru-hike of the AT. Not long before that, the algorithm had decided for some mysterious reason that I should see posts from the “Appalachian Trail Hikers 2023” group, which it turned out I did, despite knowing it was something I would never try to accomplish myself for a plethora of reasons.

I do love the outdoors, and as a 19-year resident of Western North Carolina, my husband and I live about 25 minutes from Hot Springs, a town that borders the AT. In fact, almost every person who has ever visited us here has been driven the 30 or so minutes to the long, bumpy, windy, and confusing gravel road that leads to the small parking area at Max Patch. From there, it’s a short walk to the top for the views that never stop. When we moved here, I had NO IDEA that one of the best views of the entire AT was practically next door. In fact, the words Appalachian Trail were not yet even in my vocabulary.

We occasionally go hike other nearby trails, but to be honest, since landing here after teaching English in Japan for most of my 20s and half of my 30s, we have mostly spent time building our “String Doll” business, a long and sometimes difficult trek of its own.

Throughout this journey, we have seen time and time again the positive power that each string character and their positive message brings to people of all ages and backgrounds. These 3- inch handmade, string sculptures have not only been the way we make our living, they have been our source of fun, inspiration, and even a way to make lifelong friends. They are a product that makes people smile and laugh, a product that gives them hope or helps them overcome their fears. For those who receive them as gifts, their string doll reminds them that someone loves them (with over 200 characters to choose from, we like to say there is a string doll for everyone you know!).

If those words and feelings sound familiar, it is what likely drew you to continue reading Trail Marshall’s posts when they landed in your feed, and to cheer him on as he made his way to the top of Mt. Katahdin, which I had never even heard of before Facebook decided I had some things about long distance hiking to learn.

I was immediately drawn to what TM was writing about loving each other, appreciating this beautiful world around us no matter what the weather or how we are feeling that day. I love the joy that he shares, and thus makes us feel too, through the pictures he takes and the words that he writes.

I love that he doesn’t let negativity get him down, that he learned by DOING, that he
accomplished his goals despite some people telling him that these goals were impossible. He makes something incredibly difficult look like a piece of cake, even though we know it’s not, because he is the epitome of positivity himself. It’s a philosophy and a way of living live that is infectious, to put it simply.

He reminds us that people are amazing, and that there are wonderful, kind, and generous strangers all around us. He picks you up at the end of the day and carries you to the next shelter on the trail, and he reminds not to pitch your tent inside of it. He’s a guy who lives this life, loves these trails, and is an inspiration.

Which brings us to the story of Trail Marshall’s “mini me.” So after 19 years of working directly with our artisans in Thailand to design and produce over 300 different string characters (including many that have been retired due to slow sales, including most of our sports dolls), we had not yet made a hiker string doll. I can’t quite explain why, but for some reason that I only now understand, I didn’t want to make a “generic” hiker in the way we had made generic (but also very cute) tennis, lacrosse, and basketball players.

And then one night several months ago, while reading one of Trail Marshall’s posts, a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, “How amazing would it be if we made a string doll of TRAIL MARSHALL himself!” He is the perfect string doll model, and not only that, he has a MESSAGE! A message of love, of unity, and of never giving up. And, as you all know, so much more.

The next day I DM’d him, and I couldn’t have been more excited when he not only wrote back quickly, but also liked the idea!! I swear it was all meant to be, and now instead of meeting up with TM when we scroll through social media, we can all hang with this mini-me version of him whenever we want, while he hikes the hike that some of us will never start, and that most who do will never finish. But at the end of the day, it’s not about if you finish, it’s about trying something and being proud of wherever you end up.

A toast to Trail Marshall and his upcoming third AT thru-hike – I can’t wait to see and hear what he and his mini-me get up to along the way!