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  1. #1

    Default A Portrait of the Quintessential Appalachian Trail Hiker - Outside Magazine


    Outside Magazine

    A Portrait of the Quintessential Appalachian Trail Hiker
    Outside Magazine
    Thousands of people will attempt to thru-hike the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail this year, starting right around now. Who are these people? Where do they come from? How can they afford six months off from work? To paint a portrait of the average AT ...



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  2. #2
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    So the average AT hiker is a barista(Joe slinger)? lollol

    6 months off from work? Since when is walking OUTSIDE in the heat with no AC up and down mountains and in the rain not in a building or car an average 16 MPD(according to Outside mag) carrying more than a smartphone not more physical work, and maybe mental work(mental fortitude), putting up with all the farts and smells at lean-to's than the 9-5 cubicle jockey shmuck tapping away at a keyboard or cold calling as a telemarketer?

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    Registered User BuckeyeBill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    So the average AT hiker is a barista(Joe slinger)? lollol

    6 months off from work? Since when is walking OUTSIDE in the heat with no AC up and down mountains and in the rain not in a building or car an average 16 MPD(according to Outside mag) carrying more than a smartphone not more physical work, and maybe mental work(mental fortitude), putting up with all the farts and smells at lean-to's than the 9-5 cubicle jockey shmuck tapping away at a keyboard or cold calling as a telemarketer?
    Dogwood,

    First of all I want to say that I highly respect your opinions and advice that you give.

    In answer to your question: as Lone Wolf would say "It's a vacation" "It's only walking" and I haven't heard of anyone getting paid for hiking {not a quote of LW, but solely my opinion} (Unless you count the people speed hiking that are sponsored).

    There is something that I haven't quite grasped yet, why and where do all of these papers pickup the idea that "Quitting your job and going hiking for 4-6 months" is news worthy? Is it that boring in their towns and cities? Heck I've closed my shop at times to go hiking. Told my adult children where I was going and when I'd be back. Totally not news worthy.
    Blackheart

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    Some years ago, the NPS published a study of the users of the AT.

    It used to be available as a PDF online, but the links I found are now dead.

    If memory serves, the portrait they painted was surprising with regard to the range of incomes, age and other demographics.

    The less-scientific but much more up to date survey linked in this article is interesting -- the article itself, not so much.
    Last edited by rickb; 04-19-2017 at 11:42.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeBill View Post

    There is something that I haven't quite grasped yet, why and where do all of these papers pickup the idea that "Quitting your job and going hiking for 4-6 months" is news worthy? Is it that boring in their towns and cities? Heck I've closed my shop at times to go hiking. Told my adult children where I was going and when I'd be back. Totally not news worthy.
    If you have already done it, it's not a big deal. You understand the population on the trail, the access to food and beds if you need them. But to most folks, the idea of leaving their life for 6 months and walking in the woods is crazy. Going ALONE is crazy. Not carrying a gun is crazy.Everyone reaffirms that judgement. Prior to my thru, the reaction from most of my friends and colleagues was disbelief. It is so far out of the "norm", whatever that is. And back then I also had a different idea of what the trail would be. But I would say, after my experience, that it is both a vacation AND can be a lot of work. It has extreme levels of difficulty and bliss. And in spite of jaded comments to the contrary, if feels like an accomplishment to have completed it. Can't wait to retire so I can do it again.

  6. #6

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    Looks pretty spot-on to me. I wouldn't call the article "interesting" either, except it seems to have captured all of the most common traits/gear/demographics/look pretty darn well. So I call the article simply "fun".

  7. #7

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    +1 at it being "fun" (but that's coming from someone who was 39, bald and an engineer when I did my AT thru)

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    The following article was more interesting to me - about the guy hoping to become the oldest thru hiker at age 81. I'm a bit surprised. I thought the record would be a bit older than 81. I've been thinking that is a record I would like to break, but if others keep doing it, I will have to wait longer.

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    I was supposed to have a farmer's tan? Between the green tunnel and generally being covered in a layer of filth(dust/dirt that attached to sweat), I remember not having tan lines when I went to the beach after the hike.

  10. #10

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    Very misleading article, no doubt written by a 25 year old Outside employee who likes to project his own personality and details...

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    Another crap article from crap magazine
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    “Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our chidlren's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

    ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

    Is investing in health and future generations by reconnecting with Nature, and maybe more, as one hikes just a vacation in the sense of a pastime recreational activity? Hmm? Seems some of those throughout history who were avid walkers - hikers - had earth shattering impacts.

    While there are an infinite range of definitions for thru-hiking and what categorizes a thru-hiker I respectfully disagree with opinions that state thru hiking has to be conducted in a selfish manner or thru-hikers are or purely as a recreational or leisure time activity. There are different definitions of what work is as well. Surely, we can agree that being immediately financially compensated is not a prerequisite for defining work.

    Perhaps the most fitting definition of vacation is: "...vacation is “a change in the status quo.” A true vacation, in my opinion, is changing the course of your everyday habits, mixing it up, shocking your life with change." Can you imagine how this might change people and consequently societies if more engaged in this type of defined vacationing?

    Often what's being inferred by labeling something a vacation is a period of lower productivity or...down time. Quite the contrary. Hiking can be a time of great investment in health, one of the wisest uses of time, wider awarenesses, and fabulous productivity. In these times perhaps more than ever we need those who travel, expand comfort zones, and take themselves, and maybe others, to a place outside of current cultural, national, regional, and societal norms?

    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

    Mark Twain

    There is nothing that says a hiker can't also be working on/building their career on a hike. There are photographers, engineers, painters, Naturalists, outdoor writers, college students who earn college credit to hike, gear enthusiasts, ecologists, Horticulturalists(moi), architects(moi), geologists, FS employees, educators, designers from a vast array of technological fields, biologists, cartographers, hydrologists, sociologists, outdoor guides leading hunting/fishing/hiking parties, EMT's, SAR personnel, hired trail construction and maintenance workers, surveyors, and a whole lot more who I've met or are myself that have been financially benefitting through furthering careers as they/we thru-hike/hike. Some will accommodate work(as in a paid job) during longer hikes too.

    Nature is one big classroom so much so that the education is so valued bioengineering innovators from a wide spectrum of disciplines go to Nature for clues to design a structure that withstands hurricane forces, a stronger cardboard box, faster computer chip circuitry, or improve food sustainability and global distribution. This comes about sometimes by those that go to Nature and "walk" and contemplate.

    I respectfully disagree that thru-hiking is characterized by goofing off, lack of commitment, someone lacking direction, necessarily exhibiting an escapists or rebellious mentality, non productivity, one big long lasting party scene(nonsense!), only for the young of age, retired persons, those in a transitional period(aren't we all always going through transitions?), or being a barista.

    Question the definitions assumptively imposed as quintessential - typical examples - as you may find those definitions and typicality don't have to shape your own reality or match reality. This is what happens when those inclined to short categorizations attempt to place people into neat little easy to digest quantifiable boxes.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    “Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our chidlren's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

    ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

    Is investing in health and future generations by reconnecting with Nature, and maybe more, as one hikes just a vacation in the sense of a pastime recreational activity? Hmm? Seems some of those throughout history who were avid walkers - hikers - had earth shattering impacts.

    While there are an infinite range of definitions for thru-hiking and what categorizes a thru-hiker I respectfully disagree with opinions that state thru hiking has to be conducted in a selfish manner or thru-hikers are or purely as a recreational or leisure time activity. There are different definitions of what work is as well. Surely, we can agree that being immediately financially compensated is not a prerequisite for defining work.

    Perhaps the most fitting definition of vacation is: "...vacation is “a change in the status quo.” A true vacation, in my opinion, is changing the course of your everyday habits, mixing it up, shocking your life with change." Can you imagine how this might change people and consequently societies if more engaged in this type of defined vacationing?

    Often what's being inferred by labeling something a vacation is a period of lower productivity or...down time. Quite the contrary. Hiking can be a time of great investment in health, one of the wisest uses of time, wider awarenesses, and fabulous productivity. In these times perhaps more than ever we need those who travel, expand comfort zones, and take themselves, and maybe others, to a place outside of current cultural, national, regional, and societal norms?

    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

    Mark Twain

    There is nothing that says a hiker can't also be working on/building their career on a hike. There are photographers, engineers, painters, Naturalists, outdoor writers, college students who earn college credit to hike, gear enthusiasts, ecologists, Horticulturalists(moi), architects(moi), geologists, FS employees, educators, designers from a vast array of technological fields, biologists, cartographers, hydrologists, sociologists, outdoor guides leading hunting/fishing/hiking parties, EMT's, SAR personnel, hired trail construction and maintenance workers, surveyors, and a whole lot more who I've met or are myself that have been financially benefitting through furthering careers as they/we thru-hike/hike. Some will accommodate work(as in a paid job) during longer hikes too.

    Nature is one big classroom so much so that the education is so valued bioengineering innovators from a wide spectrum of disciplines go to Nature for clues to design a structure that withstands hurricane forces, a stronger cardboard box, faster computer chip circuitry, or improve food sustainability and global distribution. This comes about sometimes by those that go to Nature and "walk" and contemplate.

    I respectfully disagree that thru-hiking is characterized by goofing off, lack of commitment, someone lacking direction, necessarily exhibiting an escapists or rebellious mentality, non productivity, one big long lasting party scene(nonsense!), only for the young of age, retired persons, those in a transitional period(aren't we all always going through transitions?), or being a barista.

    Question the definitions assumptively imposed as quintessential - typical examples - as you may find those definitions and typicality don't have to shape your own reality or match reality. This is what happens when those inclined to short categorizations attempt to place people into neat little easy to digest quantifiable boxes.
    Nice little treatise DW, I have to agree on most points. However, this "article" seems to me to just be a little tongue-in-cheek caricature, nothing serious, though the little pic shows a glance of a particular 2016 poll, click that link sometime.

    I also agree there are inaccuracies, like the farmer's tan thing, and the "from NY" thing. But overall, I sure saw a lot of these "guys" on the AT both my first time and this most recent section (last month). I would call "these guys" pretty good folk, strong, smart, taking a break from "normal life" types in general. There certainly are a lot of "lost souls" on the trail, but percentage wise, their numbers are pretty modest.
    Last edited by colorado_rob; 04-21-2017 at 09:34.

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    Wow, you made my day CR. We agreed nicely on something without a boatload of condescension. We both must be getting out more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Wow, you made my day CR. We agreed nicely on something without a boatload of condescension. We both must be getting out more.
    Yeah, we do agree a lot actually, just seem to bicker more when we don't! There's a lesson there about online discussions...

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    Well said. Maybe, we'll hike together one day and I'll let you carry my pack if you're nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    The following article was more interesting to me - about the guy hoping to become the oldest thru hiker at age 81. I'm a bit surprised. I thought the record would be a bit older than 81. I've been thinking that is a record I would like to break, but if others keep doing it, I will have to wait longer.
    I plan to beat that record when I'm age 117.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Another crap article from crap magazine
    I second this.

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