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[pct-l] "Thru-Hikers"

  That post about standards did get me thinking.  I just wanted to offer my 
opinion on who or what a thu-hiker is and how you become one.  I hked the PCT 
in '97 and I consider myself to be a thru-hiker yet technically I did not 
complete a thru-hike.  I took many short cuts and alternate routes.  I 
hitched into towns early to give my feet more time to recover a couple of 
times in southern California.  I even had to miss almost an entire section 
because of pack problems.  I'll admit that I did feel guilty some times for 
missing parts of the trail, but that was more because I was thinking about 
all the beautiful wilderness I was missing and not because I though that I 
would not be able to call myself a thru-hiker.  I didn't do this so that I 
could have a title.
  I took pride in my route finding.  I could always find the shortest or 
fastest route between two points.  I was surprised to learn when I had a 
chance to look at a copy of the first edition of the Wilderness Press guide 
book for California, that most of the short cuts that I took were where the 
original route for the PCT went or was planned to go.  I guess the original 
planners for the route really did have common sense.  So this got me thinking 
that when you blindly follow the PCT, you aren't really hiking your own hike, 
you are hiking the hike that land owners, BLM officials, politicians and 
lawyers want you to hike.  
  I think that a thru-hiker is a type of person based on their personality 
and not on their achievements.  In my opinion, anyone who has the desire to 
spend long periods of time in the wilderness, travelling in any direction, is 
a thru-hiker.  I noticed on my hike that everyone I met who was "thru-hiking" 
the trail shared certain character traits  and most of them were people who I 
felt I could be very good friends with.  I've never been able to make friends 
so fast as I could on the trail.  
  I guess what I'm saying is that I use the term "thru-hiker" to describe a 
type of person and not as a title like "winner" or "loser".  All of the 
hikers that I met on my '97 hike are thru-hikers to me, whether they finished 
the trail or not.



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