5 Reasons You Should Totally Pick Up Hitchhiking Thru-Hikers

Last week, I picked up my very first hitchhiker!

Does that sound a tad risqué?

What I actually meant is that I gave an AT thru-hiker a ride to the next trailhead. After swooping him off  the side of Route 16, I wanted to ask as many questions as possible without entirely weirding him out. I learned that Eagle hails from the lovely state of Virginia, and began the AT in Georgia in late February. When I picked him up, he had roughly 18 miles to go before crossing into Maine. Eagle was new to hiking in the White Mountains, and New Hampshire as a whole was completely foreign to him. Luckily he got a clear, sunny day crossing over Mount Washington, and has been overwhelmed by the beauty, intensity, and challenges these mountains bring. As a local day hiker, it was rad for me to hear an “outsider’s” view on the region I know and love. After a good 20 minutes of interrogation, I dropped Eagle off at the Rattle River trailhead and off he went into the woods. I doubt I’ll see him ever again, but I’m sure my gesture made his day a whole lot easier.

Here he is if you’d like to follow the conclusion of his journey and watch him make it to Maine!

Livin the gosh darn dream yoo

A post shared by Kieran (@cowboykieran) on

Moral of the story? Not all hitchhikers are serial killers. If you live in a trail town and drive by a hiker in need of a hitch consider picking them up, but keep a few things in mind.

First, use your judgment. Don’t put yourself in danger. There’s always the slight chance that the person you’re giving a ride isn’t a thru-hiker or someone you should be letting into your car, but that’s for you to decide. Be cautious, smart, and use good discretion.

All hazards and worst-case scenarios aside, here are a few reasons why you should consider offering a ride to that smelly hitchhiker crossing the interstate.

1) It’s an Easy Way to Help a Thru-Hiker

Someone who is willing to hike thousands of miles on their own two feet deserves a ride every now and then. Those extra miles on pavement can really add up, and with the help of a quick lift, it’ll reduce that extra mileage to a hostel or resupply.

2) Meet Someone New and Hear Their Stories

Even if the drive is short, you’ll get to know a little bit about someone new and find out what they’re all about. You’ll learn why they are hiking, where they are coming from, and where they are going. Everybody hikes for different reasons, and it’s interesting to hear someone else’s point of view.

3) Gain Inspiration

My goal is to thru-hike the AT within the next few years. The amount of thru-hikers I see in New Hampshire  is a total inspiration. There are so many people are out there crushing miles, and it’s incredibly motivating.

4) Be Part of Someone Else’s Story

The majority of thru-hikers get plenty of hitches throughout their journey. Giving them a ride may seem like no big deal, but it helped them achieve their long-term goal, and they probably won’t forget you. You become a part of their overall story. How cool is that?

5) You’ll be a Good Samaritan

It’s always a good idea to do nice things for others. Paying it forward will bring good karma, and will pay off on your next adventure.

May the trail gods be with you!

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Comments 1

  • Shawn Mahoney : Jul 12th

    Your hitchhiker is my nephew Kieran…never was there a more decent person on that trail. His parents encouraged him to be educated and life affirming…he has done that in spades. He has three brothers just as capable as him. Your life has been enriched by meeting him….keep your optimistic view…Kieran certainly will…

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