Superior Hero Tale – Kris Nurmi

This month’s Superior Hero Tale is dedicated to Kris Nurmi, a long-time volunteer, beloved member of our trail community, and friend to many of us — an “SHT Superman,” as Zach Johns put it — who passed away unexpectedly while leading a hike on the Trail in August 2019.

Over the course of many years as a volunteer with SHTA, Kris Nurmi did it all: he constructed trail between Duluth and Two Harbors, adopted a section, built bridges, un-built bridges (Encampment River, we’re looking at you), dug latrines, worked on some of the SHT’s finest stonework, and guided countless hikes.

On top of all this, Kris was one of the first SHTA Volunteer Crew Leaders, a role he was perfectly suited for, as he warmly welcomed people to the world of trail maintenance and gently guided their work. Kris’s skills, passion, and dedication have deeply impacted the Superior Hiking Trail and all who knew him. We are endlessly grateful for his many contributions to the Trail.

But beyond his legacy of work with SHTA, Kris will be remembered for the many moments we shared with him, enjoying his quiet kindness, humor, and excitement for being out there with us on the Trail. As trail development director Jo Swanson put it, “Kris was a friend to the Trail and a friend to all who hiked it. Words can’t express how much he will be missed on trail projects and around campfires.”

A note from Kris’s wife, Nita Nurmi:

Thank you to the SHTA staff, volunteers and fellow hikers for all the support we have received.  A special thanks to Beth and Mary, the nurses who were on the hike and performed CPR, and to Tanya who provided her seat pad for comfort. Many of you stayed with me at the trailhead until law enforcement and the chaplain arrived, even though you didn’t know the severity at the time. An extra thank you to the three hikers who went back to the campground to assist with taking down and stowing our gear.

Kris died doing what he loved. In addition to leading numerous guided hikes, he maintained the section of trail from the Encampment River to the Crow Creek trailhead and led or participated in many maintenance projects. He was enthusiastic about the new Volunteer Crew Leader training and was pushing hard to buy a place in the area to be closer to the Trail, so he could do more once he retired from his job.

In addition to dedicating memorial gifts to SHTA, our family will be taking over the maintenance of the same section of Trail in honor of their dad and grandfather.  

We send our sincere condolences to Kris’s family and loved ones. He will be missed by us all.