Why I Hate/Love Thru-Hikers
I am distracted every March. As I work under the fluorescents I look outside and imagine what Springer is like. I am a frustrated section-hiker because I dream of being a thru-hiker. But, circumstances don’t allow that dream to become reality right now. So, I go back to work. I hate thru-hikers. I love thru-hikers.
I primarily hate thru-hikers because they are doing what I want to do. I work in an office, and my ability to breathe fresh air is limited. As I sit at a desk, which everyone tells me is killing me, thru-hikers are walking in green forests breathing all the fresh air they want, and soaking in everything the trail gives them.
I love thru-hikers because I admire them. They put aside worldly concerns and the daily mundane issues, packed a pack, and set off afoot to fulfill their dreams. That decision takes some serious intestinal fortitude. They have figured out how to deal with loved ones, bills, employment issues and obligations the rest of us worry about every single day of every single week of every single month.
I hate thru-hikers because so many of them look down upon day hikers and section hikers like me. Many of them believe that all other hikers should bend to their will. Shelters were primarily built for them, and we should step aside as they approach. The rest of us don’t talk their language. Our packs are heavier and our gear is less tested. We are neophytes in the wilderness when compared to their knowledge and experience database.
I love thru-hikers because they are are hiking Gods. Their stories are better and born from experiences I have yet to have. Their muscles are taut, and they hike faster and stronger than I ever have. They handle their camp chores with efficiency and know their equipment better than I know mine. I admire them because I know they hike better than I do.
I hate thru-hikers because they are in peak physical condition. I am a section hiker, which means that I am sore after every hike. I never get my “hiking legs” because I am not out long enough to get them. A week doesn’t allow me to get in the “groove”. Every time I go out my hike starts with at least some agony. The first night or two requires searching the depths of my past experiences to remember the skills I need to make the hike a good one.
I love thru-hikers because when I set up my trail magic station, which I do every year, the thru-hikers are the most gracious people I have ever met. They share their stories, thank me profusely, and make me feel like I did something positive. Though I know what a good trail magic stop needs to have, I would never collect trail magic myself during a section hike. I don’t feel worthy enough to accept it. I’ll be back home in a few days where food and other treats are plentiful. They are walking another hundred miles before the next town.
I will continue to hate and love those thru-hikers. It is what I do, until I become one of them. I look forward to being hated and loved by other hikers.
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