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[at-l] Traditionalism



Traditional thru-hiking, as I see it, is really very simple.  Traditional 
thru-hiking is about putting on a pack in Maine or Georgia and carrying that 
pack 2,000+ miles to the other end.  Traditional thru hiking is about 
walking the whole thing, because walking the whole thing is recognized as a 
worthy challenge to a traditional thru hiker.  Traditional thru-hiking is 
about valuing your nights in the woods and the natural beauty of the Trail.  
Its about setting a goal and striving to reach that goal.

Now, comes the "hike your own hike" thing.  From where I sit, that is an 
ideal that will never be reached.  When I hiked in 19AT3, I made many 
choices that were driven by what everyone else did and valued.  I hitched to 
towns.  I carried my own pack and didn't consider hotels an option.  I hiked 
the road walks.  I hiked at a pace that was consistent with what was 
respectable among my peers.   So what?  The point is not that I hiked in any 
better fashion than another, but that my choices were to a large measure set 
by the common wisdom of the Trail at the time.  The people who really had 
their acts together may have been able to ignore their new community, but I 
do believe that is far more difficult than most of us admit.   Frankly, I 
could have used a web site with someone like Weary and others telling me its 
really cool to slow down, that their are some neat blue blazes. That 
visiting a bunch more towns isn't just a possibility, its a virtual 
requirement (I passed right by Harpers Ferry, a blue blaze at the time).  
What I would choose to do with that information is unclear, but it would 
have been worth listening to.

In other words, I could have benefited from others passion illuminating an 
alternative to what the common Trail wisdom kept telling me was "how things 
are done".   Well, I think that is what one of the other high-profile AT web 
sites does now.  It offers a passionate vision of how one can (not must) 
hike the Trail.  And how that way of approaching the AT may infact be the 
most fulfilling.   It only one voice, among many.  I think that is OK.

If the persons associated with that site are viewed as judgmental, so what.  
I catch my trout with a worm and a hook.  If some frickin' fly fisherman 
looks down his nose at me, I could care less.  My fish will taste just as 
good.  Still, I would not begrudge the fly fisherman his passion, and desire 
to share it along to others.  Especially if he set up his own web site to do 
so.
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