View Full Version : Help Convince Parents...

01-14-2005, 17:25
I am only 17 and will be thru hiking the AT after I graduate in late May. This means starting college in the spring rather than the fall. This took some convincing my parents of but they are allowing me to go, BUT my friend I will be hiking with is having more trouble than me convincing his parents to let him go the whole way. His parents are Asian and his mom is more or less dead set on him starting college in the fall and would prefere that he not hike the trail at all. But his dad is a marathon runner and understands why he wants/needs to do hike the AT, and has given him the OK to hike the AT for the summer and hasn't decided to let him go the whole way.

This puts me in a situation of having to hike the other half of the trail by myself, (which my mom said if I decide to do she will stop sending supplies but will probably keep going anyway), or stoping and becoming a section hiker of which I or my friend have no intention of doing.

Please give all suggestions to help convence his parents to let him go the whole way.

01-14-2005, 17:31
I assume your friend is aware that he doesn't really need to ask his parents permission legally. At least not when he is 18 (and practially speaking, not even when he's 17 -- it's not as if anyone is going to arrest him).

So I'm assuming that the consequences must be something else -- like his parents not paying for school, or something like that.

If I were your friend, I would stress to my parents how important this time was to me. How I wanted the break before I started college to appreciate it more. I'd make it clear to them that this was not some sort of whim.

Should that fail, I'd probably go anyway. If they're THAT dead set on him going to school, they'll be just as dead set on it after he gets back from his hike.

01-14-2005, 17:34
Get your friend out there hiking and having a good time. His enthusiasm and desire to "see it through" may just be enough to win over the parental units.

'SloggerAT 2003

01-14-2005, 18:01
Does your Mom know that today's NOBO hikers never really hike alone? A lot of things can change partner-wise, whether school related or not.

If you emphasized that in an on-line journal at a place like Trailjounals, I think she would be less concerned about the "alone" aspect of your hike as you move down the Trail-- and will be somewhat prepared if you split with your buddy.

It could happen, even if your friend works out everything with his folks.

Good luck!

01-14-2005, 18:01
Decide what is most important. If it was me, I would take the time given, then go to school. Assuming that a May 25 start is reasonable, and that college starts, say, August 20, you and your friend can get in some serious hiking. Specifically, 84 days or so, depending on how much lead in time is needed for college. 84 days is a whole of hiking and living. Cruising along at a 15 mile per day pace (completely doable given the better weather and longer days of the late start), you and your friend could hike up to somewhere close to Delaware Water Gap (PA-NJ line). Return in other summers if you wish.

You could also hike the entire thing if you want to. My friend Ill Will (Pony Express to others) has done academic summer thruhikes of the PCT and AT in the last two summers.

College can be important, or not. It depends on the person. The AT can be important, or not. It also depends on the person.

01-14-2005, 18:14
Does your Mom know that today's NOBO hikers never really hike alone? A lot of things can change partner-wise, whether school related or not.

If you emphasized that in an on-line journal at a place like Trailjounals, I think she would be less concerned about the "alone" aspect of your hike as you move down the Trail-- and will be somewhat prepared if you split with your buddy.

It could happen, even if your friend works out everything with his folks.

Good luck!

I have explained everything and she still doesn't want me to hike "by myself".

01-14-2005, 18:20
To add to chris' comment: I'm in my 8th year of college, have a couple of degrees, and haven't thruhiked yet. I'll be extremely disappointed if I don't get the chance to do it, but honestly if I could do it all over again, I'd skip college and become a plumber...(they always seem to have vacation homes!)... so ultimately, I think I'll value hiking more than college/grad school. Most people coming out of high school aren't terribly motivated to continue their education. Motivation is HUGE in anything you do. I think you will find more long-term success (and satisfaction) doing things that you are motivated to do... rather than simply what you think is either expected of you, or the "next logical step."

Parents always worry that their kids won't succeed if they don't follow the normal paths. They are just worried about the future of the person they have spent thousands of hours (and dollars) trying to raise. Your "success" in life not only "validates" this investment, but also reassures them that they did a good job raising you.

Jack Tarlin
01-14-2005, 18:56

I live in a college town. Actually, I've lived in college towns for most of my life, so I'm pretty familiar with what they're like.

A young person has a statistically greater chance of encountering random violence, theft, sexual assault, and yes, murder, on any college campus in America than one does on the Appalachian Trail. You're actually SAFER on the Trail than you'd be in school.

There will undoubtedly be more more acts of violence committed this weekend on the Dartmouth College campus (where I'm presently writing this)
than there will be similar acts committed on the A.T. in the next few months.

Likewise, one is also much more apt to fall victim to criminal violence in one's own home, car, or workplace than one is on the A.T.

Have there been some horrible things that happened on or near the Trail in recent years? Yes, there have, and I don't deny it. But people need to remember that these crimes get an unusual ammount of attention precisely BECAUSE of where they take place, i.e. on a National Scenic Trail, in a National Park, etc. The reality is that when one looks at the number of people who visit these places, there is remarkable little risk in travelling to these locations. To put things in perspective, less than a dozen folks have met violent ends on or near the A.T. in something like 75 years. That many people meet violent ends in our nation's capital every few weeks, but this doesn't stop millions of folks from travelling there.

And as for the other risks----getting hurt, lost, struck by lightning, killed by a wild animal, etc; these are all extremely unlikely as well. More people get killed by lightning while fishing or golfing than when they're hiking or camping; more people die of falls in their bathtubs than they do in the backcountry; more folks get killed by their family dog than get get killed by bears or snakes; in short, there are all sorts of activities that are FAR riskier than thru-hiking: Off the top of my head, here are some activities that statistically, are much more dangerous: Driving six blocks to the video store; eating in a restaurant; assembling a computer; cleaning out a rain gutter; shoveling snow; making love; chopping wood; taking your kid brother sledding; attending your office's Christmas party; visiting an amusement park, and so on. Any insurance actuary will tell you that more Americans will die on the toilet this year than will die in the woods, yet I don't think this will encourage your folks to tell you to boycott your bathroom.

I don't mean to make light of your parents' concerns; they are, after all, your parents. All I'm suggesting is that they put things in perspective. There are actiivities MUCH more dangerous than thru-hiking, and attending college is absolutely one of them. The best thing you can do is discuss all this with your folks, re-assure them that you're getting as well informed as the Trail as you can, and make sure you display maturity, wisdom, and common sense in other matters, such as personal conduct, drinking, borrowing the family car, acting responsibly when your folks are away, etc. The better they see you handle yourself at home, at school, in social settings, etc., the sooner they'll be convinced you can handle yourself anywhere else, including out on the Trail.

Best of luck with your planning, preparation, and travel!

01-14-2005, 21:28
Consider the fact that many people who start hiking together will eventually separate; this can be due to different hiking styles & speeds or many other reasons. So just because you start out with your friend doesn't necessarily mean you will still be hiking together by the end of summer. Why don't you both just start out and see what happens. If you are still on the trail by end of summer and want to continue, perhaps by then your parents will see your drive and determination as something worthwhile, and as an indication you will do your best to succeed in anything you do in life. Ask them to read thru hiker journals (someone has already suggested this I think), especially those of older men and women on the trail. Your parents will get a picture of trail life they will be better able to understand if they read journals written by their own peers. I know because my journal in '97 was appreciated by many mothers of young men and women who were on the trail that year - they saw it from a perspective they could relate to. A lot of hikers leave Springer in March, so that's a good time to start looking at the journals. And if your parents end up insisting you come back to start school in the fall and you decide to go on, you should be mature enough to consider and accept the consequences. Your hike will give you ample opportunity to think about it. The best of luck to you.

01-15-2005, 15:07
Your friend could explain to his parents that a lot of college freshmen, excited by their new independence go over board and party a lot of their first trimester away...by entering after having lived with only one other person for 6 months in the wilderness, you will be accostumed to the independence and more likely to have a more focused college education without the akward adapting and balancing phase of many other, unprepared freshmen. If that doesn't work and you are stuck hiking alone, you could even find another partner. Maybe you could tell your mom that since your friend is leaving you half way, you'll be on the look out for a partner who is starting around the same time as you... you could even post a search now.

01-18-2005, 17:35
Can you arrange for another trusted relative or friend to do your resupply after Mom stops? If I were you, I'd plan on your friend leaving the trail after the summer, just as a worst-case scenario.

It may be unnecessary to arrange for alternate resupply, because after the first couple of months, when your mom realizes that there are not serial killers waiting behind every boulder to kill or maim you, she may relent and agree to continue supplying you.

01-19-2005, 14:27
I recommend, ignoring the advise on WB and considering this an insurmountable problem. Virtually everyone here feels they could thru-hike the AT, at your age, with adequate time and money (and many of us have). In reality, only 1 in 4 can, and you haven't really shown you have the time or resources. A supportive Mom is invaluable. I depended on mine last year at age 50.

Take heart.
1) My preachy opinion is as likely to be bogus as any of the others.
2) Moms mature very quickly at your age. The shortest recorded time in the universe was the time between, a mom saying, "What do you see in that person?"... and "When are we having grandchildren?"
3) You will eventually be able to solve this problem, and that experience will help you complete your AT thru hike.
4) Although none of your options is ideal, you seem to have a lot of good ones. What about starting early spring of 2006? What about a longshot scenario like submitting your journal to high school teachers and starting early this spring? What was your original plan, starting SOBO in mid June?

01-19-2005, 16:57
IMO if ya need to get permission from mommy and daddy first to hike the AT then your not mentally ready for such an adventure .

actually there are too many variables and not enough information for complete strangers to be giving advise that can and will change the rest of your lives.......