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Thru-hiker Envy

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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:35 pm

I am envious of their physical stamina. And their persistence. There are many boring miles they cover too. Not all is the High Sierra!

I think there is a misconception of the wilderness "experience" of thru-hikers. Because they cover so many miles each day, very few have done more then 4-5 day stretches before back in civilization for a shower, cooked meal and the comforts of civilization. They never really get at home in the wilderness. If you read their posts, it is mostly about town time, other hikers, not trail time or solitude.

I think Rogue's travels are more of a wilderness experience. He spends a lot of time out there, with a minimum of "town time". I am more envious of him! I worked at NOLS and spent 35 days solid at a time in the wilderness on each course. I did three courses, with one town day between courses. I got to the point where I would rather not go to town; it would totally disorient me. We got resupplied by horse packers. You get to the point where the wilderness and your tent is home. It takes about 2 weeks solid to get that feeling. I think Rogue has done enough to get that feeling. I doubt the thru-hikers have.

Hey- stay in shape and you can have all the time in the world to backpack when you retire!



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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:01 pm

Watching one JMT/PCT thru after another hike on, hike on, into the rain, into the dark, marching, marching, marching....

I feel kinda sad for them.

When I happened to do more than exchange nods, had an actual conversation with some of them, they would ask where I was going and ALWAYS the answer was "where?" -- as if the only thing that exists is the trail they are on. I wouldn't trade my monthly/weekly smaller trips for that, not at all, ever. SO MUCH MORE than just hiking mile after mile out there.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby sheperd80 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:46 pm

I envy the ability to take that much time off from life to live outdoors. I like the idea of seeing such a big stretch of wilderness. Conquering such a monumental personal challenge has its appeals. Im one who sometimes enjoys the pain and exhaustion of a fast grueling hike, much the way i imagine marathon runners do.

Theres also a strange appeal to putting together this engineered gear system that has to meet some pretty serious requirements, striking that balance of weight and function. Knowing your gonna destroy several pairs of shoes, covering unimaginable miles.

BUT i dont think a PCT caliber hike would be enjoyable for me. Ive always wanted to hike the HST or the JMT and some day i might. But im more interested in high country exploration, both on and off trail. Creating my own route (with the help of those more experienced) and finding my way to remote locations. Im much more envious of the routes i see done by members here than any popular thru-hike. TRs by Rogue, Daisy and many others portray a more genuine wilderness experience to me. Wandering, exploring and of course fishing remote beautiful places, as opposed to mindlessly cranking out miles.

Edit to add that what i definitely have no admiration for is this "Supported FKT" trend where a couple guys knock out the JMT in 3 days basically sprinting day and night to pre-made camps with the help of a team all to beat some record. This is about as far from my idea of enjoying the wild as you can get.

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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:14 pm

Yeah I cannot really see myself doing one of the big thru-hikes. It is appealing in the way that it takes you through hundreds of miles of unhiked terrain for me but it's too many miles a day and a certain type of living out there that is required to get your pack weight down. Also after so much cross country I'd rather be doing that and staying off the worn path.

As for finding yourself on the trail I had already found myself long ago. I took to these long hikes as an escape from a life and people that was destroying me mentally, I had lost the only person I ever truly loved and I also had cut ties with anything left I had of substance in life. People copy Wild but I was planning to copy Christopher McCandless. Only the lure of the Sierra stopped me. But after all these years of hiking I know that whatever it is I am looking for is not out there. I feel like I need to move forward in other ways. I also feel the wear on my limbs catching up with me and the extremely tedious nature of being on horrible loose and dangerous terrain has gotten old along time ago. I often only half joke out there to others that I need to retire from this ****.

I'm doing 3 months this year but right now I only see myself doing a month next year and we'll see from there.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:41 am

What's that old adage? All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy? A consistent theme among PCT hikers is the trek becomes a "job". Somewhere around Tahoe, the adventure is over and reality sets in. They aren't even halfway, yet hiking is no longer 'fun'. It's why the vast majority of those who start at the US/Mexico border don't make it to Canada.

Last year, a guy from Tahoe recounted how a buddy of his had warned him not to do the hike (his friend had bailed @ Tahoe). Sure enough, by the time he was finished with the Sierra, he only wrote about 'pounding out the miles' in order to "get it over with". Another hiker, a career FS ranger, worried that he had begun to hate hiking/camping - he quit before Lassen.

Here's an excerpt from a current blogger. Sure enough, the Tahoe demarcation is still applicable:

We arrived at the Echo Lake Chalet by 6:30. I said goodbye to my parents and 5 Star and I started for the trail. I definitely missed my parents and I was a little sad to be back on the trail. A big part of me wants to be home. I miss my dog and cat terribly. The good news is that in 60 miles I’ll be 1,500 miles from the border. 5 Star and I plan on pounding the trail from 5:30 am to 7 pm. We definitely will be putting down some serious mileage. If we average 30 miles a day going forward, which we won’t, it would only take 50 more days. If we average a more reasonable 25 miles per day we would be done in 60 days. We would be done at the end of August. That’s exciting and a huge motivation.


http://hikingwithjason.com/day-69-over-dicks-pass/

My own personal tolerance for being away from home/family solo is 5-6 days. Doesn't matter if it's business travel, a surf trip or hiking. I like to go hard & fast, then get the hell out and rush back home.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:11 am

I've learned to do things that feed my soul. It counters all the things I have to do, in day to day living. If you find that the activity ceases to feed your soul, why pay to do it?
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Mike M. » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:06 pm

Totally agree with the gist of most of these posts. I don't understand the attraction of thru-hiking. How fun can it be to run a marathon every day? (Then again, I feel the same way about Bob Burd's same-day in-and-out death marches to bag a peak or two -- but I really enjoy reading his reports). There is something admirable and constructive about setting an ambitious goal and completing it, but so many of the thru-hiker diaries I have seen show a constant battle against the tedious daily grind. The focus shifts to friendships made with trail buddies and to the frequent exits for re-supply and the refreshments of civilization. The hike itself becomes secondary, just a job.

My personal preference is for long, immersive hikes on routes I devise myself. It takes a few days for the crud of urban life to wear off and I don't want to bail out at trailheads every five days for resupply and another brush with crowds and modern amenities. When I was younger and more able, I could carry three weeks worth of food and really get away from it all. It made for a rich experience. Then, once you got back home, everything seemed so new and different for a while.

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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Cross Country » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:23 pm

I always thought they were nuts but then I don't like peak bagging so what do I know.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Cross Country » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:26 pm

Observation peak - the only one I ever climbed (and with Mike). We were fishing Dumbell and the fishing was so good we had to stop and do something else. Not to mention it was easy - just right for me (and Mike).
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby oldranger » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:34 pm

Basically what Eric and others said. Doing a thru hike to me is like a series of one night stands, exciting but lacks the true intimacy of a long term relationship. I love short hiking days and long layovers. They increase my level of intimacy with my surroundings. Just as being with the same woman over many years is still exciting and not at all boring. I might add that the long times away from each other as a result of my extended forays into the wilderness adds a little spice to our life on my return home. :unibrow: :o :) :D :eek: :littledevil:
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:17 pm

There are many methods of "thru-hiking". Perhaps we need a definition of what this post means by "thru-hiking".

If thru-hiking is simply doing a long route continuously, you could hike fast and take lots of town days (what seems to be typical of PCT hikers) or hike slow and infrequently resupply or even have resupply brought in by outfitters. If you do half of the PCT slowly one year, and finish the next, is that still a "thru-hike"? That is usually referred to as "section hiking". Is the JMT a thru-hike? Maybe it is too short. It seems short compared to the PCT or CDT or AT.

So I do not agree necessarily that if you thru-hike you have no "intamacy" with the wilderness. I did Roper's High Route. Not sure that is considered a thru-hike. I took 33 days, with only one day off. Only hiked 5-8 hours a day, did two side-trips, lots of poking around at the end of most days, and fished. I really did not do it any differently than any other backpack trip- just did it continously. Also did the same thing for 30 days in the Wind Rivers - no official route, just my own. On that trip I carried 14 days food for two sections with one day off between. I had three "resupplies" on the High Route. Were these "thru-hikes"? Who officially designates a "thru-hike"? Does a thru-hike have to be a big "named" route?
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Pietro257 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:58 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:There are many methods of "thru-hiking". Perhaps we need a definition of what this post means by "thru-hiking".



My definition of thru hiking: Walking for speed on a lengthy, famous trail without regard for the scenery, geological formations, flora, or fauna while subsisting on freeze-dried gruel and speaking only to bore others with opinions about the merits or demerits of various kinds of backpacking gear.

I did a thru hike in 1975 -- the John Muir Trail. And what I chiefly remember about it is how eager I was for the trip to end starting around the halfway point. Later I discovered cross-country hiking, the opposite of thru hiking. You always have to be aware of where you are and where you're going on a cross-country trip. You have to be alive. Thru-hiking is a matter of staring at your toes all day to make sure your feet land in the right places on the trail.
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