The Dirty Bubble: The Tale of an Unusual and Exceptional Tramily

What’s more important: what you do in life, or who you do it with?

When I first set off on my solo hike of the Appalachian Trail, I leaned heavily into the former. Like many other hikers, I approached the A.T. with a lone-wolf appreciation for the journey itself and my place within it.

Former hikers and authors constantly describe how hikers seldom find themselves truly alone along the white blazes in our path. But, my prepare-for-the-worst-slightly-pessimistic mind told me I’d be spending swaths of time with only myself.

What I found, was far from any pre-trail expectation I could have conjured up.

The Dirty Bubble, as we have become, is comprised of a dozen or so nature-loving, hippy-dippy misfits that (through a stroke of serendipity) found their way to one another.

While common trail families or “tramilies” enjoy the company of 3-to-4 fellow hikers, our bubble expands and contracts constantly at an above-average size.

I know what you’re thinking: a dozen smelly thru-hikers sounds like a recipe for disaster. And you’re probably right. Yet, somehow we’ve managed to make the experience feel like a movie — almost too good to be true.

We have yoga gurus, doctors, planners, early birds, and a wealth of life between us. No one goes hungry, thirsty, or cold. When we have extra, we share with those with less, and we always trade and compromise.

It has amazed me to witness the selflessness, generosity, and care we give to one another, despite having only the contents of a backpack to our name.

Our tramily taught me the value of what I have and the beauty in sharing that with others.

We celebrate accomplishments and moments both big and small — both independently and together. We hike our own hike, then enjoy the moments when we get to share that hike with one another.

The Dirty Bubble evolves constantly but its membership is always comprised of smelly, loving, and generous thru-hikers that see the trail as the destination itself and Katahdin as the cherry-on-top.

So, at the ripe age of 21, I can’t exactly say whether what you do or who you do it with is most important in life. But, I can always look back on my tramily with gratitude for being the most incredible people to join me on this incredible journey — and that’s enough for me.

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Comments 4

  • Lyla H : Apr 11th

    “The Dirty Bubble” 😂😂😂 love it, hope to see y’all again further down the trail!

    Reply
  • pearwood : Apr 12th

    Oh, yes, It’s the community that I am most looking forward to.

    Reply
  • MATTHEW WINN : May 8th

    It’s coming up. It’s coming up.

    It’s coming up.

    ———It’s Paisley.

    ( Does anyone have anything for an acid stomach?)

    Firesign Theater

    Reply
  • Belly flop : May 14th

    Well it’s a month later and the dirty bubble turned into that aforementioned disaster. Hostels, hotels, restaurants don’t want anything to do with ’em. Their rude, loud, and as obnoxious as one can imagine. A few have realized that there reputation has spread all the way up the trail and have decided to bid farewell to the nonsense. The not welcome sign is out when it comes to the dirty bubble.

    Reply

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