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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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