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[pct-l] Non-linear hiking on the PCT

Ryan Christensen wrote:

<< 	Last year on the trail there was definalty a feeling on the trail that
 faster you hiked the better you where and the slower you hiked the less
 some people thought of you. I believe from talking to hikers who have hiked
 the PCT before "The Handbook" came out that this is a relatively new
 feeling. The handbook has done allot of harm to the trail hiking experience
 by creating a us/them, slow/fast, hapless/thru hiker, ray way/other way
 paradigm. Again there is no right way to hike the trail-- only your way.
 For some, including myself, faster does not mean better.  >>

On my thru-hike the same year as Ryan (1996) I sensed the same divisions
being formed by some individuals on the trail.  I was labeled a semi-Jardine
type hiker because I slept under a tarp, wore running shoes and sometimes
hiked 30+ miles per day.  I enjoyed discussing my hiking style, but I did not
like being labeled.  After all, virtually all of us were not out there to
show anyone else up or to be king of the thru-hikers!  I was simply
goal/achievement oriented, and one of my goals was to do the entire PCT in 4
months, 1 week.  I often desired to spend more time just wandering or staying
put in the wilderness.  But my urge to move northbound usually took over.
 Anyway, this is besides the point. I was not into being critical unless
someone flatly said something like "running shoes are no good out here." 

I met a hiker near Mt. Baden-Powell who immediately and directly cut me down
for just being a thru-hiker, and he made it clear he thought my tarp was a
bad idea.  He said I would not have fun trying to make it to Canada being it
snowed.  Then, he mentioned the injury to his foot.  After looking at his
huge, overloaded pack and his heavy boots, I suggested he might have a stress
fracture or perhaps tendonitus due to carrying the heavy weight.  After all,
our bodies do have limits.  I suggested he reduce his packweight by getting
rid of things like the frisbee he lashed to his pack.  I did not say he was
right or wrong, I was just offering a long-term solution to his injuries.  If
anything, the fellow who criticized me was the one who was stuck in this
right way/wrong way attitude.  And I doubt he ever read Jardine's book.  I
learned the hard way myself. In 1991 I carried 60 pounds through Oregon and
Washington on the PCT, and the excessive pack-weight resulted in multiple

Ryan points out a very valid concern about Jardine's book.  Jardine, who is
very achievement oriented, seems to imply his way is the best way to hike.
 But at the same time he presents a 5 and a half month intinerary for those
who want to take it slower.  And for those who want to lighten their load,
there is no better source of information than the PCT Hikers Handbook.  I
would like to suggest the divisions being created are not usually the result
of Jardine's book, but by the attitude of some people on the trail who have a
hard time dealing with the differences among other hikers.  After all, we
seem to create our own little world on the trail!

I certainly hope that the atmosphere of right way/wrong way does not fester.
 And instead of blaming it on a book, maybe the folks doing the criticizing
should take a better look at themselves and just enjoy the comraderie and the
beautiful spaces that surround us as we walk the PCT, and enjoy the
differences among us!  I agree with Ryan that there is no one way to hike the

Roger Carpenter
Mexico >>> Canada 96

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