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Thru-hiker Envy

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Thru-hiker Envy

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:42 pm

Have read numerous people write the following statement "I've always envied JMT or PCT thru-hikers".

My question are:

Have you every envied the thru-hiking style, whether JMT or PCT, if yes, why?

What is it about them that appeals to you, is it that they can cover so many miles a day, that they can spend so much time in the wilderness at one time, or maybe both of these reasons? Maybe something else?

Who during their backpacking careers have started off admiring or even participating in this style of backpacking but have changed their styles as they progressed thru there careers, what changed your thinking?
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby ERIC » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:06 pm

I'm envious of the lengthy, uninterrupted time they are able to get away for. Nothing more.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:52 pm

I admire their drive and stamina, but I know myself well enough that I would not enjoy that kind of backpacking. I like to go slow and appreciate where I am; the sights, the sounds, the smells and of course do a lot of fishing, so the idea of grinding out so many miles a day doesn't seem like a lot of fun to me. But to each their own...
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:55 pm

I'm envious of the lengthy, uninterrupted time they are able to get away for. Nothing more.


I hear you Eric.

Having done a few hikes that fall into this thru-hiker category, the length of then uninterrupted time spent is great, but the quality is extremely lacking or nonexistent for me. Thru-hikes at there fast pace is not a satisfying experience to me any more, the fast pace is beneficial and used to get from point A to point B, or in case of an emergency. This fast pace of hiking does not allow me to experience the flavor of the land, and most places in the Sierra deserve at least a minimum of 2-3 days or much more depending on there size and remoteness. Witnessing the land under different conditions like sunlight, moonlight, clouds, stormy conditions, or in a particular season can present a unique and different joy to all of one's senses, that is if one dedicates time to a particular section, arriving to a location after hiking all day, then eating, cleansing, sleeping, and then back on the trail early in the morning allows no time at all to soak in or to experience the treasures that any particular area has to offer and is not appealing to me.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby dave54 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:02 pm

Fly Guy Dave wrote:I admire their drive and stamina, but I know myself well enough that I would not enjoy that kind of backpacking. I like to go slow and appreciate where I am; the sights, the sounds, the smells and of course do a lot of fishing, so the idea of grinding out so many miles a day doesn't seem like a lot of fun to me. But to each their own...


That is pretty much the way I feel. My preferences have changed over time. No longer have the need nor desire to prove something to others or myself.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Jimr » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:55 pm

Ooh, I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo
What?!
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:09 pm

Ooh, I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo


You can sing that Beach Boys song to us at the Meet-up Jim, but make sure you brush up on the lyrics while at Dinkey. :D
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:18 pm

ERIC wrote:I'm envious of the lengthy, uninterrupted time they are able to get away for. Nothing more.

Yes, this is pretty much my view. We'd all like that much time off. OK, officially I do in fact have that much time off, but functionally.....

It occurs to me that I didn't answer the rest of the original question, so I'll add a few answers in this edit:
Everyone has different reasons as to why they'd like that much time off and for those of us who might want to devote large chunks of said time off to being the High Sierra, the ways we'd envision spending it vary tremendously by the individual. I've never had the slightest desire to through hike a major Sierra trail. I enjoy off trail travel and its improvised routes far too much to stick to a "trail highway". If there are particular reaches of trail that provide the most efficient way to get me where I want to go, then I may be on such a trail for a little bit. I may also find myself on certain sections of trail that are particularly scenic and enjoyable or have destinations of stand-alone appeal along them. In fact the freedom I enjoy so much from off trail travel also means I do not wish to follow a pre-planned off trail route such as the SHR except along specific reaches for the reasons given above for trails. My preferences in the High Sierra have changed through time, but not my aversion to the concept of through hiking.

When I was a kid and teen, my main aims, influenced heavily by my dad, were to climb summits and I think my enjoyment of off trail route finding began there. The biggest change for me happened in the 1980's (approximately my 20s) when I transitioned to peak-first to fish-first.

As far as other sorts of envy for some of the physical attributes of (some) through hikers, I still have the physical capability of covering long distances in comparatively short periods of time, but I don't seek to apply this to marking off mile posts on a super long trail. Instead the speed is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. With limited free time, use the legs and lungs to do a normal 8+day off trail backpack trip in 5 days or to do a 2-3 day backpack trip as a dayhike. In addition, greater hiking speed means more fishing time. That having been said, I don't treat the hiking as merely a means to get to the destination. I try to take it comfortably beneath maximum speed so that I can enjoy it, rather than suffer as if I'm in an endurance race competing for time.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby brandy » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:24 pm

ERIC wrote:I'm envious of the lengthy, uninterrupted time they are able to get away for. Nothing more.


Absolutely. To me it is less about the accomplishment and more about the ability.

When I think about doing the JMT, it is because I want to see every step of that trail. I know I probably COULD bust it out in the short amount of time I would be able to be away from work and home. I know I wouldn't love doing it that quickly, though. I want the time to be able to enjoy and take it all in.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Jason » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:30 pm

ERIC wrote:I'm envious of the lengthy, uninterrupted time they are able to get away for. Nothing more.


It's clear from the responses so far that Eric nailed it. I suspect that there is some transference going on as well......... the reason that you "want" to do a thru hike may have less to do with the hike and more to do with the time off and flexibility.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:11 pm

Like others have said, I have wondered how so many people can get time off from work/school. 3 weeks for the JMT to 5 months for the PCT......and this coming from a high school teacher who gets off 8 weeks in the summer. :whistle:

I do not envy these hikers. In fact, some I feel sad for. One family of three from Texas hiking the PCT was looking for a new home. Dad lost his job in the oil fields, mom took time off, and their 13 year old daughter was placed on a home school program. From what it sounded like, they might be moving to Oregon once they get there. A new start. Other people we talked to had similar stories. Like the book/movie "Wild", it seems a lot of people are trying to find themselves or believe that doing this "life changing event" will be a cure all for their problems. Maybe. From what I learned out there, they are driven to get to Canada and just happen to be passing through a part of the Sierra my wife and I frequent. If anything, they might envy us who live in and around the Sierra Nevada. Something I think we sometimes take for granted.

My wife and I have summer's off and decided to do it. And we will finish it next summer when time, and lack of snow, allows. :thumbsup:
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby SSSdave » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:24 pm

As I got into backpacking as a twentysomething in the 70s most everybody read Colin Fletcher's "The Thousand Mile Summer" which I indeed found an enjoyable read but in a list of ways did not reflect my own interests that at the time. There were other Sierra Club books, Wilderness Press classic guidebooks, Sierra North and Sierra South that focused my attention. The latter two has a long list of overnight to 2 week or so trips with most less than a week and little mention of thru hiking. Although everyone was aware a few people hiked the whole John Muir Trial, that was not something spoken with passion by enthusiasts. The only other long trail I knew about in that era was the Appalachian Trail a world away. In those days backpacking was an exciting new thing for the young counterculture generation and small shops sprang up all across the SF Bay Area much like surf shops are along the coast.

My interest was trout fishing in a long list of mystery lakes I had surveyed on my growing pile of 15 minute topos from frequent visits to the Menlo Park USGS Map Sales room that was not far from where I lived. Note my photography interests were still a decade away. A bit of information could be gleaned from terse descriptions in the WP guidebooks or the Yosemite "fishing guide map" but there were myriad other lakes with no information one could only dream about on the map. Those of us that ventured to remote off trail lakes sometimes saw huge trout. Fishing generally was hugely better in those days with many more places with large fish. In those years numbers of remote Yosemite lakes were still being stocked occasionally and I would see those big pisces. In those early years I found that a week to 10 days would get one 3 days into the most remote places with a day or three to explore. Also after a week out most enthusiasts were ready to return to civilization. The new freeze dried meals of that era had various gastrointestinal issues haha. And gear, clothing, and boots were relatively primitive. The notion of taking such equipment on a long trail meant some serious unpleasantness to be endured.

For this person it was never an issue of not being able to slip away from my electronics career to get on a trail for a month or whatever because I began a pattern of taking off long periods between each job until my modest bank accounts shrank down. Heck in 1980/81 I backpacked all summer and then skied the winter. Into my 30s I got into much more and began reading all manner of natural science books as a focus became photography with the earliest 35mm SLR designs. So as more thru trails began to be built and proclaimed, I was already long past the point of ever having an interest in walking them.
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