Give people enough time and they will surprise you.
In my last post I talked about community. Today I want to talk about people. There are always people who will rub you the wrong way and then there are others who you will more naturally gravitate towards. On the AT you can always hike on your own and you can choose to camp on your own but if you camp near or in the shelters you are stuck with those people for the night. Being stuck with some people is not always a bad thing.
There are even times where people who rub you the wrong way are a nice sight when they are the only familiar face you see that day. Just because they rub you the wrong way do not write them off right away. They will surprise you and to be honest those people might eventually end up being one of your best friends.
Also you may never know when they might need your help and you need theirs. The AT is overall pretty safe but things can happen and you never know when an emergency might pop up and you will need to rely on anyone you can find at that point.
Never underestimate the power of compassion and giving. On the trail people will always give whether it is a candy bar or a 5 course meal. There was one day I shared some candy bars with some hikers that were headed as far as they could get. That was the day that the ice storm hit and I decided to stay at the shelter.
I ran into them two days later at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). They thanked me for giving them the Snickers bars and that they saved their lives. To me this was a very easy task if giving away some of my extra weight in food that I would not eat before I made it to the NOC and they said they were running low. They told me that they had gotten turned around and eventually made it to the NOC. They were very cold and did not want to push on but they knew that because they were wet and running low on supplies they had to make it to the NOC. The small act of me giving them the Snickers bars was to them a huge deal. It was a nice surprise to meet up with them even tough the thanks was unnecessary.
Just remember its your hike and HYOH. Happy Trails.
Living in the city and working in corporate America many people tend to loose sight of the amazing feeling of community. This is not always their fault it can be caused by many factors of life.
Leaving it all behind and hitting the trail for a few days, weeks or even months can restore that connection to community. What is community? Community happens when people connect or come together for a common purpose. You live in a community, your social networks are a community, and the trail is a community.
The trail community is incredibly strong and it’s magic is all over the place. You just have to look for it. The magic will find you when you need it most. This can be heard in so many people’s stories of trail magic.
Many of the best communities happen accidentally or out of random happenstance. Communities do not have to be large groups of people they can be small. No matter the size you will all connect in a way that will keep you connected for a long time.
If you are familiar of what I am talking about you have experienced trail magic and your own communities and instantly remember the people you met when and where. The stories will stay with you forever. Savor these communities and the people in them. Just remember that even the smallest gesture of caring may seem so little to you might be the world to others.
I have mentioned to a number of people that the AT is the Disney World of hiking trail. This statement can be seen as both positive and negative. Before you go off and think I am crazy let me explain first.
Every year is the “biggest year” in terms of the number of people who are hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) whether it be thru-hikers, section hikers, weekend hikers, youth groups, scout groups, or spring breakers. The numbers are staggering at how much of an increase they have each year. To see some of the past totals and the most up to date numbers of the AT they can be found at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Website.
I found that in the spring of 2013 many of the small towns along the trail started having hiker fests or parties to bring the hikers, gear companies, and others to their town to help celebrate the AT its history and their communities. In recent years Damascus was the only town to have such evens and celebrations. This can be both good and bad for the communities and the hiker community. Everyone has their own opinions as to the pros and cons. I am neutral and think it can be both good and bad but that is best saved for another time.
As the number of people on the AT grow the more the AT will be something for you or to be honest it wont. If you compare the AT to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) the AT has more hikers than the PCT and the CDT combined. There are lots of reasons why people speculate this happens but the AT is the oldest and most well known. It is also the most promoted and “advertised” of the trails. Lots of people go to Six Flags or your local theme parks but after big events when asked where the winners are going they don’t respond with “Six Flags”. So Disney has made a huge name for themselves and provides a heck of an experience. Just like the AT.
So how is the AT like Disney World? Well it is like this. 1. The AT is not for everyone and neither is Disney World. 2. Lots of People. 3. Towns along the AT will turn into even larger tourist Traps. 4. Parties. 5. Increasing prices of hotels hostels and the like. 6. Huge amounts of fun. 7. Lots of great people. 8. Magic at every corner. 9. Makes you feel like a kid again. 10. Joyful memories. 11. Lots of Kodak Moments. 12. You will meet lots of new people 13. You will all be in similar situations. 14. Lots of roller coasters. (To hike and mental / emotional) 15. Many ways to spend your money. (food, gadgets, toys, and gear) 16. Excitement when you least expect it. 17. Terror or Fear. 18. Delays due to weather. 19. Hanging out with friends enjoying beverages. 20. Everyone is more than willing to lend a hand.
For most of my experience in Georgia on the AT the nights were very cold as were the days. I found myself wearing my warm gear both during the day and at night. I did make a decision on one of the harder days to wear my merino t-shirt and my fleece jacket instead of my Columbia Omni-Heat Reflective shirt. This turned out to be an extremely important decision. After hiking six miles in this weird misty fog with the temp below freezing causing all the water that hit the trees or myself would instantly freeze. However it was still wet enough to cause my pants and socks to become soaked after only after twenty minutes or so into my hike. I stopped at a shelter and evaluated things. I could have gone another five miles to the next shelter and risk it being full. I stayed put and quickly unrolled my sleeping pad and sleeping bag. I also changed out of my wet clothing and into my warm gear right away. Inside the sleeping bag with my warm clothes I began to finally warm up.
So how do little reflective silver dots help keep you warm? Here is Columbia explains them.
At first I thought it to be a gimmick. How could these little dots really work? In all honesty they do. I was always warm wearing the shirt even when I had completely soaked the shirt with sweat. I am so very glad I had that shirt and for future cold weather adventures I am going to stock up on gear with the little reflective dots. The little reflective dots do have a name and they are called Columbia’s Omni-Heat Reflective technology. In full disclosure I was not given this gear by Columbia and I used my own money to purchase it. I found it on sale at a place called Gander Mountain in Ohio. I was skeptical but thought I would give it a try especially since it was a nice price and I had seen several videos about how it worked and what not. Also the Omni-Heat Circut Breaker jacket had the dots and I always found myself very warm in that jacket. I never really thought of the dots as being anything special because they were in a much heavier jacket than the thin shirt.
People are fixated these days on the most effective means of toning up or getting into shape in general. While there are countless approaches to do this, including going to the gym, this might not be the best thing for you specifically. For example, there are several reasons why something like hiking is actually better than going to the gym regularly. This particular article will be focused on detailing some of the reasons why this might be a better option for you personally.
The Ups And Downs Sure, treadmills and other equipment has incline and decline features. However, what they do not have is the possibility for intense incline or decline that nature does. When you are hiking along an actual trail, you are going to be going up and down at various points, around bends and other movement scenarios that simply cannot be replicated by modern machines.
The World Around There is very little of actual nature within a gym, either. When you are out on a hiking trail, you are getting to experience something that could change regularly. Whether it is just relative to the time of the year, you are always likely to see at least one thing new. When you are at the gym, you might never see anything at all, or just be encouraged to watch television while you tread along towards a seemingly endless goal. There are significant benefits to just spending more time outdoors as well. For one, you are exposing your body to nutrients that the sun can provide like Vitamin D. Every person is encouraged to absorb a certain amount of this a day to maintain health balances.
You And Your Potential When you are in the gym, you are able to give in whenever you feel so inclined. You can try again the next time that you muster up the gusto to head back to the building and try again. However, when it comes to hiking, you have to finish what you start. Sometimes this means really pushing yourself and your perceived potential to reach the end of the trail that you are on.
The Possible Audible When it comes to hiking locations across the country, there is rarely just one path that you can choose from. This means that you can continue switching it up every time that you go, even choosing new locations entirely will entirely new sets of hiking trails. The anticipation of landscapes and viewpoints can be a very significant motivator towards pushing yourself farther and reaching your eventual conditioning goals.
Cheaper Is Better Let’s face it, state parks and other hiking friendly locations are not there to pull a lot of money from you. Rarely these locations even charge admission, let alone ask you to provide them a monthly fee. So if you are interested in the aspects of saving money, hiking is better in this aspect as well.
These are just a handful of the reasons why hiking is better than going to the gym. If you are looking for a change of pace that is as challenging as it is rewarding, then perhaps this can be a welcomed addition to your life.
Hike your own Hike will only ever mean what you want it to mean.
What does the phrase “Hike your own hike” actually mean? Well I believe it to mean whatever you need it to in those moments it is needed most. There has been some talk in various podcasts and blogs lately that HYOH is the new YOLO of the outdoors. One of the comments made that I agree with is that people use HYOH to get away with stuff that they might not normally get away with. A good example is Person 1:”Hey man your dog just pooped on the trail” Person 2: ” Hike your own hike”… It reminds me of a couple of phrases I used to hear a lot a kid “To each their own” or “It is what it is”. Both of those phrases really do not mean anything other than person saying them had nothing better to say to explain the situation or respond back with. Sure you can argue that it they do mean something however your meaning of the phrase and mine could be considerably different.
How do you take such a phrase and turn it into something you can use? I found that even at some very low points there were people to provided their two cents good or bad. Like the internet and news you have to filter out the good from the bad and take away what you want to from your conversations with others. I found that as long as I stuck to my Scouting and Leave No Trace principles and listened to my head and my heart “Hike Your Own Hike” easily turns into “Hike My own Hike”.