After a recent solo backpacking trip I became a little more aware of the social tendencies of hikers. Normally I hike with my wife, friends, and dogs, so I’m not really attuned to make new friends on the trail. But when you go solo it seems like everyone (except a few disgruntled individuals noted below) wants to know your story. I thought it might be helpful to explain what type of people you might encounter on the trail so you can understand your own status and interact accordingly with the hikers you may encounter. The trail I was on was a joint section of a longer national scenic trail so there was a mix of recreational hikers, section hikers, and thru hikers which can lead to interesting interactions.
The Anti-Social Hiker
This is the person that when you cross paths, there is little to no acknowledgement of your presence. Generally speaking you could fit the anti social hiker in one of these categories:
- There’s the fitness buff who is so concerned with their exercise that they zip on by with their iPod in their ears leaving you in the dust.
- There’s the person that hasn’t seen a trail in too long and struggles mightily to put one foot in front of the other. They can’t manage to breath comfortably much less utter “hi.”
- There’s the grizzled thru hiker that may do as much as groan a harumph that you would dare to cross them on the trail ruining their day, your presence reminding them of crowded shopping malls and everything that is wrong with the world.
The Semi-Social Hiker
This person will greet you as you pass and might even exchange pleasantries, but you’ll maintain a safe distance and definitely won’t get their name or phone number.
The Social Hiker
This person is eager to interact on the trail. They typically hike in groups and carry enough extra goodies to share. They’ll let you pet their dog and you’ll get to know them and might even consider exchanging information to meet for a hike later.
The Social Butterfly
This person doesn’t hike so much as they flutter from person to person on the trail, sticking like a barnacle to a ship for days at a time. They may have arrived alone, but will leave with a new BFF. They share treats and Facebook profiles at the campfire. They’ve probably shared a shelter with random strangers and may or may not have offspring (depending who is asking) as a result of meeting someone on the trail.
Which type of hiker are you? Do you have any interesting social stories from the trail to share?
Back in ’09 Nathan and Lydia did a very irresponsible thing. They shirked responsibility for a summer and decided to go backpacking on the Colorado Trail. Ranger Nick (then he was just Nick) joined them for a weekend on the trail and the rest is being written in history on Band of Backpackers. Each summer since Lydia’s gives up the majority of her non-working weekends and we head out into the wilderness as soon as we can get off work, sip a craft beer, and hit the road. We hike around where no one hears our trail talk for a few days and come back in to town to load up on all the calories we just burned off. Living in Colorado where the beer flows like wine and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano we end up with people (“The Band”) joining us on many of our trips. We felt like we were having so much fun that it was only right to share our happiness on the interwebs. You can join our adventures on Band of Backpackers or follow Nathan’s Tweeter to keep up with “The Band.”