Nov 122014
 

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I’m just going to say it, even though I’m sure there will be a riot of defense for it, that I don’t really like the term “Hiker Trash”, so commonly used to refer to other people in the trail community.  I know it’s said warmly, fondly, with an intent of inclusiveness and pride. But I don’t think it adequately pegs the average long distance hiker. I am a member of that community, but I’m not trash, I’m absolutely badass royalty out there <a-hem>, and should therefore be called “Hiker Queen”. But I’d settle for “Hiker Chick” or maybe even just “Hiker”. Regardless of what I’m called, this is what it means to me to be a passionate long-distance hiker.

  • Time on the trail is “real life” and time spent in civilization is the “sabbatical”, used mostly for preparation for “real life” back out on the trail.
  • All challenges that do not involve immediate survival needs or trip plans are considered abstract and tiresome.
  • There must be cold air on my face for me to sleep.
  • When wildfires run out of control, I grieve more for lost wilderness than lost “properties”.
  • Walking now solves every discomfort  I become burdened with, physical or emotional.
  • Anyone encountered out there is family.
  • I’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen about routes, gear, trail stories, plans, food, and map sets. Usually only other hikers will listen.
  • Life stays interesting.
  • Asphalt has become nearly impossible to tolerate as a surface for walking, or *gasp*, running.
  • I become really not okay, both physically and emotionally, if I’m not active for very long.
  • “Hike Your Own Hike” has replaced “Live and Let Live” as the mantra for tolerance.
  • I no longer judge people for how they look or how much money they make, but instead judge them for their average baseweight, the number of miles they walk a day, and whether they bury their shit properly or not.
  • I love life, and have renewed faith in the ability of nature, beauty, and solitude as valid pathways to the Divine.
  • I know that almost everything is survivable.
  • I don’t work out to stay healthy or look good, I work out to “train for —“.
  • I always have the gear and full supplies to be able to take off at a moment’s notice.
  • Everything I own fits in a backpack and a “town clothes” duffel and I get that weird feeling in my gut when I start to acquire more.
  • Outside is always better, regardless of weather.
  • I’ve become less afraid of natural things and more afraid of people and cars.
  • Life has facets of wonderfulness I never knew existed before my trail experiences.

Though I am becoming more and more settled into life off the trail, harboring ambitions to maybe even instigate a new career path that would keep me at a home base with some regularity, I will always crave the trail journey. I will want dirt, hypothermia, and dehydrated refried beans. I will feel underweight without 30 extra pounds on my back.  I will be antsy if I’m physically comfortable. I will always be a Hiker Chick/Queen/Trash.

 

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