Golden Rules for Thru-Hikers: There’s More Than LNT
I want to preface this by saying there are so many amazing thru-hikers. Most of whom would do anything to help you, always have a positive word to say, and truly love and respect the AT.
Unfortunately, there are more than few who are giving thru-hikers a bad rep. I don’t think many are aware that they are giving off a bad impression, so here are a few things to keep in mind during a thru-hike.
1. Be Respectful in Town
Just recently, at a store along the trail in New York, I witnessed two business owners venting to each other about the way thru-hikers were acting. One owner was even expressing concerns over hikers sending packages to her place of work without her permission and going through her mailbox.
Please. Be respectful when you go into town. These business owners don’t owe us anything, but the majority of the time they are the kindest people and would do anything to make our hikes better.
Don’t assume things. Ask permission if you need something special (i.e., sending packages, loitering to charge your phone, etc.) Treat their business like you would their home.
2. Be Kind to Day Hikers/Section Hikers
On McAfee Knob, I witnessed a group of thru-hikers being crude very near two day hikers. Before I really knew what was happening, the day hikers left and one thru-hiker happily said, “Yes! I finally got rid of the day hikers!”
This is never OK. Thru-hiking does not make us any better than any other type of hiker on the trail. In fact, a good majority of them would give anything to be doing what we are.
This also goes for Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts. So many hikers complain about groups like this on the trail, and I get it. They can take up space in shelters, they can be loud… but they’re just excited. If you love nature enough to hike 2,200 miles then we should love these organizations that are teaching younger generations to cherish and respect our beloved trail.
Be kind. Chat with them like you would a thru-hiker.
3. Don’t Be Judgmental
This should be a no-brainer, but it comes up in conversation a lot. Some hikers get ridiculed by others based on things like doing small miles compared to others or even for having started the trail a lot earlier and “only” being so far along.
People do this at so many different paces. Some take their time to explore and soak things in. Others try to do it fast to push their bodies to see what they can really do.
Both are OK.
Some people can only handle 15 miles a day. Some people enjoy spending time in these quaint trail towns. Some people are just downright slow and are proud of it.
At the end, everyone is doing the same miles. Everyone is experiencing the same journey. We should be lifting each other up, not putting each other down.
Let’s Not Make Thru-Hiking a Negative Thing
It breaks my heart to see so many people having negative opinions about thru-hikers due to the actions of a few.
Present and future thru-hikers: We need to do better. We have to do better. This trail was built as a way for people to immerse themselves in nature and to find release.
If we keep up these negative actions, we’re going to ruin the trail for future generations. We need to preserve more than just the physical trail. We need to preserve the community it was built around.
Hasta luego friends,
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