Legendary gold rush milkman Snowshoe Thompson gets his due

You know Paul Bunyan, but have you heard the tale of Snowshoe Thompson? He was a real life heroic mailman during the California gold rush, and Atlas Obscura has the story of his legendary feats, and how extreme athletes today honor him with a 100 mile hiking challenge.

Originally from Norway, Thompson was an immigrant who got the job done. For twenty years, starting in 1856, he strapped on his skis (not snowshoes) to bring mail to settlers in the Sierra Nevadas. He made the three day roundtrip from Placerville, California to Genoa, Nevada two to four times every winter. The hardy Scandinavian carried over 100 pounds on his back, sleeping on piles of pine boughs, navigating by the stars.

His story is filled with daring feats and rescues of trapped people… all made more poignant by the fact that he wasn't fully paid for his labors and went to Washington, D.C. to plead for reimbursement. He was denied.

The group Historical Expeditions now arranges hikes that follow Thompson's trail, and demonstrate that this civil servant was something of a superhero.

Over the next five days, they walked, ran, snowshoed, skied, and even had to get into a car at one point due to unsafe snowbanks on the highway shoulders they'd intended to use.

For everyone who's trudged to the mailbox in inclement weather, take a moment to honor Snowshoe Thompson.

Previously: Origins of Trump family fortune traced to Canada brothel during Gold Rush era