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  1. #1
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    Default Boredom on the Trail

    A few weeks ago, an energetic, friendly, outgoing, country-boy college student told me that he could never go backpacking alone on the AT for four days.

    I had just told him about my solo trip on what proved to be a lonely stretch of trail from Ceres to Bland, VA, late last summer. It was hot and humid, it rained hard for hours at a time for three of those days, and I had shelters to myself two nights and tented alone a third. In reply to his comment, I told him (truthfully) that in all my years of backpacking and day-hiking, much of which has been solo, I've never been bored. He was perplexed, perhaps incredulous.

    Part of my enjoyment while hiking is being in the woods, but a bigger part is that I really enjoy solitude - thinking. I don't have any electronic devices, so my "entertainment" comes from thinking, nature, fellow hikers, and reading. It's such a rewarding and filling way to spend time.

    I assume that nearly all backpackers feel just as I do: never a moment of boredom. But, you know where "assuming" gets one, so I thought I'd ask for input from the WhiteBlaze community. Do any of you get bored or is your experience similar to mine?

  2. #2

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    Am in complete agreement with you, Dan. Never a moment of boredom for me, on or off the trail.

  3. #3
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Part of my enjoyment while hiking is being in the woods, but a bigger part is that I really enjoy solitude - thinking. I don't have any electronic devices, so my "entertainment" comes from thinking, nature, fellow hikers, and reading.
    Itís an acquired tase, I think.

  4. #4
    Registered User GolfHiker's Avatar
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    Great topic. One I’ve not seen on WB in forever. I’m assuming ( there you go), that most of us will agree with you that we are simply not bored. Not to say there are not periods with less enlightenment than others, as there will be struggles, physically and mentally in a 2200 mile hike. If nature doesn’t get your attention, then you are not trying. As for hiking along with others, it’s amazing ( to me) how much of your day is spent focusing on backpacking. I would tell people that it’s staggering how much “silliness” a group of adults can generate to keep them going, but that’s what works.

    My guess is your young friend has just not been out on trail enough to give himself a chance.
    "How can something this hard be so much fun".

  5. #5
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    my first attempt in 1986 i quit in Gorham, NH. not bored just was sick of walkin'. didn't wanna walk thru some of the most scenic parts of the AT with a bad attitude. saved Maine for a rainy day so to speak. glad i did

  6. #6
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Never a dull moment for me. Hiking, like lots of other endeavors, is not for everyone. It's why I can sit quietly on a boat for 12 hours fishing but the thought of doing it even for one hour makes others bristle. Same for watching golf or baseball on tv.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  7. #7
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    Lightbulb With whom I agree

    I actually agree with both you and your friend.

    Hiking the A.T. can be incredibly boring. For the most part, it's just the same thing -- mile after mile, hour after hour, day after day. There are occasional bright spots, of course -- McAfee Knob, Pulpit Rock, the Whites -- but mostly just trees, climbs, and an occasional field. Literally every trip, if not every day, I eventually start to ask myself, "Why am I doing this?" I never do arrive at a satisfactory answer.

    But I fight this boredom with my thoughts -- the way I've lived almost my entire life. For some people, that's an approach they want to avoid, as being alone with one's thoughts CAN be un-nerving. Some people avoid this with non-stop 'noise' (videos, parties, TV-watching, entertainment), others avoid it by shutting down their thought processes with chemistry.
    Perhaps your friend has simply never developed a taste for being alone in thought. His loss, I suppose, but it's definitely an acquired taste. If someone has never developed this ability, the boredom of the trail can become overwhelming.
    Last edited by GoldenBear; 02-19-2021 at 15:32.

  8. #8
    International Man of Mystery BobTheBuilder's Avatar
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    I've always suspected that the unexpected boredom is what is responsible for the high dropout rate for thruhikers every year. I'm sure some quit because of injury, or home emergency, etc., but it seems the people who have the most optimistically romantic view of walking 10 hours a day are probably the ones most disappointed.
    "Waning Gibbous" would be a great trail name.

  9. #9

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    I've always been easily bored since I was a kid---but two things never bore me---backpacking out in what's left of pristine nature; the beauty thereof---and playing music on various instruments.

  10. #10
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    I'd rather be bored in the woods than overwhelmed in a cubicle.

  11. #11

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    On my first long hike in 1974 I stopped at Andover, ME, not bored, just sick of hiking. It's a valid reason. If you are not into it, get off the trail.

    Boredom is different. I shared a breakfast table at Phantom Ranch, bottom of Grand Canyon, with a family from LA who had rode donkeys down the Bright Angel trail to there and were leaving the next day (my wife and I were backpacking for five days into remote side canyons). The mother said one night was enough, because "There's nothing to do here". Of course, that's not true--Learn the plants, animals, geology, weather, people, just be at peace with silence, on and on... it would take 1000 lifetimes.
    So such remarks say more about the speaker than anything else. Yes, if your brain is turned off, things get boring no matter where you are.

  12. #12

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    I’d give anything to be bored hiking right now sounds amazing��

  13. #13

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    There's another aspect of a mentality interfering with a backpacking trip---and not just boredom. It's the worry over home concerns and/or the beginning of a new relationship in courtship mode when all you think about is that person and what he/she is doing. A corollary of this would be grinding Loneliness and Despair, two powerful human emotions. The backcountry can seem like a very lonely and indifferent place if your head's not in the game.

    I wish I could remember that old Vietnam War movie about a new guy getting on a helicopter and he pulls out a picture of his girlfriend back home and an old-timer says something like, "You're already dead"---meaning to forget about home and concentrate on the here-and-now. Similar to a backpacking trip---esp before the age of cellphones.

  14. #14

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    It always amazed me seeing thru hikers hiking along with earbuds in the ears. One day we were heading across a long line in puncheons in area flooded by beavers in Maine and we were coming on up someone with earbuds and head down heading towards us. We said hey a few times but she didnt acknowledge it, We finally yelled loudly when she was about 15 feet away. She looked up startled and jumped off the puncheon into about 2' feet of water. She then glared at us while we walked by and as soon as she was past it was buds still on head down.

  15. #15
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    My kids learned to never complain about being bored because I would tell them that if they are bored when they are by themselves, then they must be a boring person.

  16. #16

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    If someone talk mostly drinking, smoking pot, jazzing for a zero in town, watching youtube at shelters, listening to podcasts, and other distractions, do they really enjoy walking? The peace and quiet.

  17. #17

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    Well, it can get monotonous. It's called the Virginia blues for a reason. Sleep, walk, eat. Repeat endlessly. But it should take more then 4 days to get to that point I know when I've been out alone for more then a few days, I start to really hope someone comes by I can talk to!
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  18. #18
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Old_Dog View Post
    If someone talk mostly drinking, smoking pot, jazzing for a zero in town, watching youtube at shelters, listening to podcasts, and other distractions, do they really enjoy walking? The peace and quiet.
    What are you talking about ,please?????

  19. #19

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    Nah, I have never felt any boredom while solo on the trail, but I have never been out longer than three weeks. Although, I can understand and empathize where mental fatigue during a thru hike can fester to boredom.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    It always amazed me seeing thru hikers hiking along with earbuds in the ears. One day we were heading across a long line in puncheons in area flooded by beavers in Maine and we were coming on up someone with earbuds and head down heading towards us. We said hey a few times but she didnt acknowledge it, We finally yelled loudly when she was about 15 feet away. She looked up startled and jumped off the puncheon into about 2' feet of water. She then glared at us while we walked by and as soon as she was past it was buds still on head down.
    We're all out there to hike our own way of hiking. dblthumb2.gif

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