Hike Your Own Hike
Anyone who has dipped their toe into the world of the Hiker has most likely heard this ubiquitous saying. Its individual meanings are endless and have so many nuances, that at times, it has become meaningless. But we will continue to use it and embrace the meaning we have chosen to use as we hike on down the trail, hiking our own hike.
What "hike your own hike" means to me
As I said above, there are so many meanings to this saying that I probably can't list them all. Here are two that I consider often.
1. An expression of the freedom that a long distance hike allows for the hiker. To go out and commune with nature and be one with it. To be at home in the woods and move along the trail as best as you can, doing what you want (as long as it doesn't infringe on other's hikes). It means, you hike your hike and I will hike mine. No judgment or criticism.
2. A pseudo polite, semi-passive aggressive way to say Shut the Fuck Up. I really don't want or need the unsolicited advice you are giving me, so please go find someone else to impose your will on.
It is usually pretty easy to figure out which meaning I'm using...
What does it Not mean to me? It doesn't mean to go out there and do whatever the fuck you want, disregarding the others you share the trail with. It doesn't mean to ignore LNT. It doesn't mean to ignore all the trail etiquette you have read and heard about. It doesn't mean you have free rein to be loud, obnoxious and basically an asshole.
The golden rule fits nicely with this concept. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. It is as simple as that.
With today's Interwebs, there are countless resources of information about attempting a Long Distance Hike. Some if it is good, some, not so much. The thing is to go out there and see what you can find. Weight the advice and information you see and either try it, discard it or save it for later. I love planning hikes. Whether they be one or two nights or five or six months. Using all the resources I find on this great information highway is always fun. Here are a couple of go to websites that I have found very useful:
1. The A.T. Guide - You need to have a guide and this is the one that I recommend. It has a gold mine of information that helps you along the way. You can get a pdf version for your phone, but I will always also carry the paper edition. I have cut mine in half and will carry only the half I need. AWOL's website also have some handy resupply planning spreadsheets that come in three different Miles Per Day variations.
2. Lighter Pack - This website helps you obsess about your pack weight. It gives you a nice visual display of where the bulk of your weight is and lets you plan how to cut it down.
3. ATC's Interactive Map - Great for getting a clear visual clue of the trail. It can show you shelters, parking, vistas and more.
4. Distance Calculator - Another great planning tool. Enter start and stop locations and it gives you a good breakdown on the mileage between way points.
5. Trail Journals - This is a great site for sharing your journey. Although it is a little challenging to use from the trail, it isn't impossible, if you have a bit of signal. It has great tools to show your gear, let visitors offer encouragement and tracks your mileage and other stats from your hike.
6. Zero Day Resupply - This fairly new concept lets you plan and execute mail drops without all the prep work. You just go to their website, fill your box or pack and tell them where to ship it. The prices are fairly comparable to grocery store, but remember you are paying for a service too.
7. AT Mailing Labels - If you are doing the mail drop thing (or just need someone to send you something) this site has a good database of addresses, both Post Office and Businesses. You always want to double check with most of these as they may disappear without notice.
8. Facebook Hiking Groups - There are dozens of these that you can join and share your knowledge and ask your questions. A word of warning. You might want to do a little of your own Googling first because you can ask a simple question in any one of these groups and get so many conflicting answers, that it just confuses you more than before you asked. They are good to see who is planning to get out there and it is possible to make friends early and also decide who you really don't want to hike around.
This is the final installment of my Long Distance Hiking 101 series. I hope I was able to provide a few tidbits of wisdom. What works for me, might not work for you so please don't consider anything I have advised here as the only solution. Everyone has a slightly different experience out there, but for most, it is a really great experience that affects them for the rest of their lives.
Have a great hike and remember the Hike is about the Journey. The experiences are to be cherished. The destination is just where you sigh and say, "What's Next?"
See you out on the trail.
EarthTone and LoGear