View Full Version : What did you learn through your Thru-Hike?

07-17-2003, 07:51
After all the blazes crept by, what did you take away from your life on the trail? Did you gain knowledge about yourself; about nature; about creation; about a creator?

07-17-2003, 10:42
I learned a lot about myself. I hiked the trail with my girlfriend (now wife of 1 year) after we both finished school (my graduate, her undergrad). I had a job lined up, and 7 months to hike. Absolutely no pressure... an yet...

I learned that I am a high strung person. I am always anxious about something. Getting to the next water source (will we find it? will it be dry? Will the water taste good?), getting to the next shelter, getting to the next town, but most of all, getting to the big K... All with these little questions running around my head.

Since i was anxious all the time, it made me want to hike faster and further than my wife felt comfortable. She was sick the first week with a cold, but we didn't take any time off, 'cause i was afraid of blowing our schedule. Her knee started hurting on the way in to the Blueberry Patch, but I kept pushing her to get to town. She got giardia, but I kept us moving because we weren't sure what was going on, and we had to do our miles. Then she got morton's neuroma, which is incredibly painful, somewhere before Damascus. I kept pushing us all the way to Front Royal.

During all that, I was more focused on my anxiety than her (and our) well-being. It eventually pushed us off trail (although I don't know if there was much we could have done about the foot thing other than to get orthotics, which I think is tough to find around the trail).

It's a tough lesson to learn, not to be anxious. Somehow that is very deep inside me. But I am learning. It still crops up in my everyday life in a high stress industry (I'm the optical lead for the next Hubble Space Telescope instrument) but I am learning that you don't have to push yourself to a goal. You need to enjoy the now. This is a lot hard for me than for others I imagine. I envy those people that can just say "lets sit on this rock outcropping for three hours and relax" without feeling the pang. But I am learning.

For me, this is the most important lesson I have to learn in life. I will let me enjoy my life, and most importantly, life with my wife.

The next time we hike (we're hoping to do the colorado trail next summer, and the AT in 05 if we can get the time off from work) we are taking our time. We will start march 1, and plan on finishing oct 15th. Really keep our options WIDE open, stop when we need to stop, hike long when we feel like it.

The AT was the best thing that I have ever done in my life. It taught me how to enjoy life, but I am also still learning!

Gravity Man

Lone Wolf
07-17-2003, 10:50
I knew I didn't want a carreer or a real job or to to married w/children. After 17,000 AT miles I have none of that and I'm perfectly happy.

07-17-2003, 11:10
She still married you? What a woman! Now that's a keeper!

Lone Wolf: 17,000 miles?!? That's like 7+ thru hikes. How do you survive when you're not on the trail? Where do you live (not precisely but generally)? Just curious about such an aberrant live style.

Lone Wolf
07-17-2003, 11:38
5 so-called thru hikes and 7000 "other" miles. Iworked as a snowmaker in Vermont for 11 years during the winter then went to Springer Mtn. every spring. Sometimes I'd hike all the way, halfway, to Damascus, whatever I felt like doing. For a couple of years I lived out of my truck traveling and since 2001 I've lived in Damascus with a lady I met in 2000 on the trail. I live off investments, don't work, play lots of golf and bike and hike around here. It's all about choices. Most successful thru-hikers get right back into the rut they got out of when they started hiking.

07-17-2003, 12:37
I guess she saw the potential...

1 year anniversary tomorrow!


07-17-2003, 14:22
Lone Wolf;

Why did you change your login? Wasn't it just "LoneWolf" before? Why "LoneWolf1"? Forget your password?:D

07-17-2003, 16:10
I think that one of the biggest things I got out of hiking was that it restored my faith in human nature.

I believe that if Bush, Blair, Saddam, and few others took the time to hike the AT, the world would be a much better place.

07-17-2003, 16:58
LOL yeah right ,ol Saddam hikes the AT and now hes a changed man and all is well with the universe!! LOL get off the drugs man!!! Streamweaver

07-17-2003, 17:15
Throughout the centuries humans have been bonded through hardships much more strenuous than an AT hike, yet they insist on killing on another. I think the AT is cool and am totally off my rocker with excitement about my planned hike. But let's not get carried away.

Lone Wolf
07-17-2003, 20:02
hey tlbj. my old e-mail is fried. had to create another.

07-17-2003, 20:44
I just figured you used to be lone wolf zero and decided to promote yourself. :D

07-18-2003, 02:43
What did I take away from the trail?

For one, the physical aspect of hiking the trail changed me. I got me into the best shape I have ever been in. For the first time in my life I felt like an athlete. A skinny, malnourished, dirty, smelly athlete with numerous aches and pains that is. The athlete side of me didn't last too long, but the knowledge of what is possible still feels me with wonder.

Certainly it renewed my faith in mankind. The incredible people who when out of their way to may my journey a success is something I'll never forget. The media and their attempts to manipulate my fears doesn't have the power over me it once had.

The biggest thing is what I found inside myself. On the trail, I felt more connected with who I am and with the world around me. People sometimes describe their journey as a pilgrimage, and overtime I have started to feel this way myself. Spiritual matters have gained a new importance in my life.

So have I returned to my old ruts? Yes and no. Its an ongoing struggle, but I don't think I'm going back to my old life any time soon. Somebody punch me in the face if I do.

07-18-2003, 08:06
1. People can be very kind for no reason at all.

2. Your body is an amazing machine, and is capabale of doing some things that are almost unimaginable at the start of a thru-hike.

3. That a thru-hike did not change me. It just opened my eyes a little wider, and provided me with an experience that most only dream about.

4. That you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Determination is what its all about.

Little Bear
GA-ME 2000

07-18-2003, 09:10
Originally posted by lone wolf1
hey tlbj. my old e-mail is fried. had to create another.
I noticed that hobocentral when down. Too bad.

Mike Drinkuth
07-18-2003, 22:30
Hey TNJED...I really like your answer, bro. That's exactly what I hope for in '04

07-22-2003, 10:10
1. I learned that I can count on my husband for anything.
2. I learned that people are fundamentally good.
3. I learned that sometimes, stereotypes are correct
4. I learned that there can be such a thing as too much chocolate
5. And I also learned that most people cannot fathom the though of walking 20 miles, much less 2000..but that they are still anxious to hear your story :)

Good stuff! :)

07-27-2003, 02:16
Hi. I am planning a one day trip, hopefully with friends. I have never gone hiking, so I don't know exactly what to bring for the day, besides the obvious: water, good sneakers...
Is it wise to wear shorts and a tank top? (I'm planning this for August..the hottest month of the year!) I am open to all advice. thanks!
Email: [email protected]

07-27-2003, 03:04
There's nothing like a naked woman in a soft bed.

07-27-2003, 08:25
Originally posted by queensgal0574
Hi. I am planning a one day trip, hopefully with friends. I have never gone hiking, so I don't know exactly what to bring for the day, besides the obvious: water, good sneakers...
Is it wise to wear shorts and a tank top? (I'm planning this for August..the hottest month of the year!) I am open to all advice. thanks!
Email: [email protected]

Where and how far you are going have a lot to do with what you take. My advise is to not 'over do it' the first few times out. Usually it is best to limit yourself to 4 or 5 miles and gradually work up your mileage to allow for your body to get used to hiking. Shorts and tank top are fine for warm weather. Plan on 1 to 2 miles per hour, take a snack, water, light weight clothing (preferably nylon, if you already have them), sneakers and enjoy yourself. You will figure out what else you need as you go on longer hikes. People that try to go too far on their first outing sometimes have physical struggles/problems and end up having a miserable time.

Some areas of the country have hiking clubs that routinely do short day hikes. You may enjoy it more with the company of other folks with similar capabilities/interest. Most of the folks on this site are backpackers that hike big miles. Their advise may get you in over your head... keep it simple and enjoy it.