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Thread: Becoming Odyssa

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    Default Becoming Odyssa

    I finished this book last night by Jennifer Phar Davis .... for some strange reason, it was one of those books like "Animal Farm" that I had a hard time putting down once I started it.... read the entire book in 4 nights.
    It was a very interesting and inspiring story. I respect her athletic ability, perseverance and grit in finishing her first AT thru hike, then later going back to the trail to set those trail speed records. As a frequent AT section hiker, I was a little offended by some of her story, she pretty much trashes AT section hikers early in the book, but I attribute some of that to her youthful exuberance on her first AT thru hike, and the by her accounts she had some run-ins with some real jerks on the trail. The section hikers she mentioned in particular as being a pain would have turned me off also.

    but I enjoyed her descriptions of the different sections of the AT, the terrain and trail towns, fellow hikers, the physical and mental challenges she dealt with as a thru hiker, spoken from a young female hiker point of view. I did like the way the chapters in her book subdivided the AT into different sections in her hike.... it was different than AWOLs book, which was also a great book. She had to deal with some stuff that male hikers don't have to endure. I'll bet she is a good motivational speaker.

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    I had a very similar reaction to the book. I enjoyed it, but couldn't help being offended by the entitled thruhiker attitude toward sectioners. We actually have as much right to the trail as anyone, and as much right to the shelters. "Section" is not synonymous with "selfish butthead", and "thruhiker" is not synonymous with "AT Royalty".

    But as you say, she was young....and yes, I enjoyed the book.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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    even though i've through hiked a few times, i don't consider myself part of that "community". i don't associate with most of them when they walk through town. i love section hikers. more laid back

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    she made some statements in the book that thru-hikers should be able to "pull rank" on section hikers at AT shelters, as if section hikers should immediately vacate the shelter if a thru hiker arrives. I guess that's what is taught at the AT thru hiker school she attended.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    even though i've through hiked a few times, i don't consider myself part of that "community". i don't associate with most of them when they walk through town. i love section hikers. more laid back
    Perhaps because we don't take ourselves quite as seriously? No schedule, no deadline, just an appreciation of the trail and the hike du jour.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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    Loved the book by a special than very young woman. I do not even consider speed travel on the trail hiking. No way can that type of endurance test be fun, yet a challenge I just am not into. Not even going to get into the thru vs section thing. Way too old for that. Plus in any large group we find different types and also as mentioned when we age we change the way we think and feel. Thank Goodness.

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    I heard her speak a couple years ago in Charlotte before her record setting hike. She seemed very down to earth and came across as the "girl next door". I think she must be one heck of an athlete and very mentally tough.

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    i was 32 years old during my first thruhike i enjoyed the company of fellow thru hikers (most of them)always some around thinking they were gods gift to hiking & or making a bad name for all of us. i tried to always do the right thing by helping others when i could,holding a door open & i tipped my servers well :-)
    i gave respect to get it, but i never thought i was better than anyone else, i really enjoyed the company of section & day hikers& townies and my hiking partner never seemed to have a problem with anybody whether they were thru,section, or day hikers, at least she never said anything. pretty sad to look down on section & day hikers, some of the best people i ever met. my 2cents

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    I wonder if anyone ever called her out on the pulling rank on section hikers philosophy and what her reply was. I admit when I read that and knowing she was a speaker, I thought it kind of odd. Still, she's entitled to her beliefs and whether she still believes it now, she was writing about her experiences at that time.

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    She did her first thru right out of college in 2005, which the book was written about. I would like to think she has evolved some since then.
    I know I did in the 8 years after I completed my undergraduate degree.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
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    I met a 72 yr old section hiker in Glasgow, VA this spring. He had already done 2 "thru hikes" of the AT in his younger days. When I met him he was in the midst of doing a Damascus to Deleware Water Gap section hike this year. Enjoyed talking to him for a few minutes. He did not look 72, looked more like in his 50s. We discussed the merits and challenges of "thru hiking" vs. "section hiking" the AT, and the types of young people we meet on the trail. Like myself, he enjoys meeting the younger hikers and seeing their enthusiasm, humor and energy. It is contagious for guys our age. He was from somewhere in PA. We both shared the feeling that section hiking the AT presents different challenges than thru-hiking the AT, for the obvious reasons of logistics, transportation to/from the trail. And of course as any section hiker who hikes just a few days or a few weeks, as soon as you get the trail legs or stamina, it is time to go home. Then you go home and can lose it when u get off the trail for long. And upon returning to the trail, you are starting over again with the endurance challenge of the hills. When I get asked "are you a thru hiker?", I usually say "I'll let you know when I'm through". It doesn't matter much to me if a hiker is a thru or section hiker, we meet all kinds of personalities on the trail.

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    I respect her athleticism, but I did not like the book and don't put her on the pedestal that others seem to.
    ~Trudging the road of happy destiny~

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    Florida Mike- You can find a few of her public presentations on you tube fairly easily. Worth a watch.

    Definitely a few faults, especially regarding her youth and perspective- but I think the rawness and honesty is a good reflection on young hikers in general. While not an old fart by any means, I can look back on some of my hikes and notes from my first long distance hikes in my twenties and see I was even less diplomatic than I am now to put it nicely.

    It also took me a long time to realize that while a Thru-hike is an amazing thing, a much more inspirational and inspiring thing is a section hike. A thru-hike is special, it takes luck and dedication, it has that nice shiny to it that makes it seem more special than other hikes. At 21 I couldn't fathom someone taking longer than I was alive at the time to hike the AT. Now as a Husband and Dad I can appreciate the love and commitment to the trail, the difficulty and the sacrifice to come back year after year. A section hiker is the real hero in my opinion.

    Hell Mike- Your Long Trail Thru and the struggle to make it happen is pretty inspirational too.

    More importantly than the speed, I think she has done a tremendous amount for the outdoors in getting more folks out and inspired. While folks my age had Bryson's book; this current generation has Skurka and JPD to look up to and inspire them. Even my staunchly conservative grandpa found her entertaining and inspiring when she was on Fox news. She's a sweet person who's hard to dislike.

    Overall a great ambassador for the trail, and not just for women. But I can certainly say that I have seen more and more Girl Scout troops and other ladies out and about- and they know exactly who Jen is. That's good for all of us.

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    I read her book and thought it was great. In reference to her trashing section-hikers, does no one remember when she turns around and says what butt-heads thru-hikers are? Well she did. I got to see her recently in my Podunk town out west when she gave a talk. She struck me as a very kind woman, with a wonderful family , and very encouraging to me who is in the class of 2014!!!! yeeehaw!!!!!!!! Anyway--I liked the book and the person too. cheers, all!
    “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran

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    She is speaking at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville during a weekend event coming up in Nov (i think)

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    I liked the book, in general. I thought it was a good memoir of her hike and it was an interesting and fast-paced read.

    I didn't really think much about her thru-hiker superiority complex because it is her memoir, after all, and she's capturing her thoughts and opinions in the context of her hike. I'd imagine if I showed up at a hut in the Whites, starving because I'd been hiking for 5 months, I'd resent the section hikers that ate up all the food before I got my share, too. Of if I showed up to a shelter, cold and soaked to the bone after hiking for miles, I'd be perturbed at the couple of clean, dry section hikers that had overtaken an entire shelter.

    Honestly, personality-wise, she seemed kind of boring and goody-goody in "Becoming Odyssa," so I wouldn't be surprised if her editors made her spice things up with a couple of "mean thoughts" here and there.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
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    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

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    Quote Originally Posted by QHShowoman View Post

    I'd imagine if I showed up at a hut in the Whites, starving because I'd been hiking for 5 months, I'd resent the section hikers that ate up all the food before I got my share, too. Of if I showed up to a shelter, cold and soaked to the bone after hiking for miles, I'd be perturbed at the couple of clean, dry section hikers that had overtaken an entire shelter.
    if you paid to be in a hut for the night you would get your fair share of food. thru-hiker or not. and shelters are first come, first served for everyone

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime View Post
    Perhaps because we don't take ourselves quite as seriously? No schedule, no deadline, just an appreciation of the trail and the hike du jour.
    HUH? I've been both a section and a thru-hiker. I had MUCH more of a schedule and deadline when sectioning. I had to go back to work on day certain. On a thru I had MUCH more freedom.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

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    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    if you paid to be in a hut for the night you would get your fair share of food. thru-hiker or not. and shelters are first come, first served for everyone
    I can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing with my post.

    Pharr Davis' claim was that she did not get her fair share of food -- that the food was passed out family style and by the time the pasta bowl got to her, there was only a mouthful or two left. So if she was entitled to the same amount of food as everyone else, then she was clearly cheated and had a right to be resentful. Did it really happen this way? We don't know...I am just going by the book since it's what we're discussing.

    And you said it best -- shelters are first come, first served for EVERYONE (emphasis mine). So, if you show up to a shelter that can comfortably accommodate 6 people and there are two people taking up all the space, it's reasonable to ask them to make space for you without encountering eye-rolling or exasperated grunts and sighs. If the shelter is already packed like sardines, that's a different story.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
    you can feel your heart as smooth as a snail
    the mountains your darlings
    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Praha4 View Post
    ... she pretty much trashes AT section hikers early in the book, but I attribute some of that to her youthful exuberance on her first AT thru hike, and the by her accounts she had some run-ins with some real jerks on the trail...
    I am reading this right now, and just read the part where she trashes various hikers, but I read it differently. First she complains about weekenders, then section hikers, and finally through hikers. I think she was trying to show how naïve she was early in her hike. I'm working (hmm... some what) now; I will look back at that section tonight. I have read many of the AT books; until now AWOL was my favorite. I must say that I like Odyssa even more, and certainly recommend it!

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