View Full Version : Suffering With Strangers

05-19-2016, 00:06
I still hold onto my early memories of newbie hiking in the late 80's and early 90's as a kid and miss those times. One thing I remember the most is how much I "enjoyed" the suffering of bad weather, logistics, and poor gear, in shelters, road sides, and camp sites with complete strangers. There is something (at least for me) about being totally stranded and under the weather or something else beyond your control that everyone else with you is going through that you all bond with. Then to never see them again. I would love to hear others thoughts and experiences.

05-19-2016, 00:32
That feeling of comradery among total strangers is only one of the many aspects of the AT that pulls me back over and over again. The trail community always makes you feel like family, only afterwards, you can just hike away if you like! You'll probably see them on down the trail but if not, it was nice! Hakuna Matata What not to love?


05-19-2016, 06:20
Probably one of the forum sociologists can instruct us on all the right terms for it, but yeah, I know what you mean.

It's not just the trail, though. Yesterday I was walking the greenway during my lunch break and there was a family of groundhogs poking their noses out of the drainpipe that went under the path. Strangers stopped and spoke with each other, pointing and smiling. Some were strangers that I recognized from previous walks, but we had never spoken. "Normal" days were different. Usually we ignored each other, occasionally made eye contact with a small nod or smile. Certainly no words. In the midst of civilization, we seek solitude.

I remember just after 9/11/2001. Everywhere I went - the grocery store, walmart - people were making eye contact with one another. And that eye contact wasn't casual and disinterested; we actually saw one another. We had all witnessed the horror of the WTC coming down and grieved for the lives that were gone. In our sorrow, we sought community.

On wilderness trails where we don't see anyone for miles, we almost always pause for a short chat when we do run across a fellow hiker. On popular trails loaded with dayhikers, the crowds are a nuisance, patiently or impatiently tolerated, but rarely do we speak to them. I've often wondered just where that threshold is between welcoming another human and wishing they would disappear.

05-19-2016, 07:21
I agree with your post 100%. I am way more social with my fellow hikers out on the various trails than I am in almost any other environment.

as far as the shelters go, sometimes you ARE suffering with strangers. At other times, you are suffering because of them.;) I like camaraderie amongst hikers, but at night time I prefer the solitude of my tent or hammock.

05-19-2016, 08:21
I agree with every post.

I feel this is the natural life, and everything else is artificial.

Mr. Bumpy
05-19-2016, 10:40
I too fondly remember boot camp, field med school, and the first time loading up on a plane not understanding exactly where you are going then getting dropped off in a mud field in Africa. All those were the days. :-?