The Thru-Hiker Community Breathes as a Singular Organism

I am almost two weeks and 140 miles into the Appalachian Trail and I am yet to find a person that I do not like or care to be around.

The Outdoor Community

I have always said that the outdoor community is my favorite group of people. I rarely find a hateful person or someone that is worthy of exclusion. This is the single group of people I have encountered that will lift you up after a short conversation. They are kind and look for ways to help one another. We are all experiencing the same highs and lows of the outdoor world. Our connections with nature are so deep and thorough that we all connect. The outdoor community is like a grove of aspen trees. We may look singular and independent but underground we are one organism.


The term tramily is well known, but to those new to this world, it is a combination of trail and family. It may sound cheesy and maybe even complicated, but it is real.

I have had several tramilys during my short time on the trail. I have traveled among the Texas Rangers; I have also started with a large group that dwindled down to me and one other. In real life it may be strange for a 21-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man to be friends, but we were. After a few days and several miles, I realized my current best friend on the trail was my Dad’s age. It’s strange, but its life on the trail. There are no divisions, no classifications of people. No normal.

I have even found a set of godparents on the trail. I met them at a shelter and they were comically generous from the start. My dad was asking for advice on the best way to get to the airport and ended up with a ride. This generous man was certainly mad; when we met him, he had already accomplished 15 miles and was setting off for another 15 that day. The next day he comes around the trail in the opposite direction looking snazzy and holding a red bull. I ended up hiking with his wife for some time and she was just as incredible. They even learned where I was on the trail and my favorite things so that they could surprise me and my friends one morning. I mentioned before that I was surrounded by a disgusting amount of support. This is another example. A pair of strangers became another set of parents to me in the matter of days. I have never said goodbye because I have no doubt that I’ll see them again.

Family on the trail is different but it is real in a way that feels inhuman. A love that is fast and lasting and unnatural in society.

The Appalachian Trail is not a solitary sport.

At the end of each day, you will always find me among a group of people. I love the people, their conversations and their lessons. I have made several friends that have taught me so many things during my short time here.

Midnight Snack taught me how to fuel my body. What I need, what I don’t. What is nutrients and what is just weight.

Bill taught me about pacing. The importance of pushing yourself but also allowing your body the time it needs to heal.

Another Bill (strange but true) fixed my pack, taking away half the weight, but also taught me the true way to walk the trail. He called it the people’s trail. Yes, we are all here to munch miles and make it to Maine, but there is so much life along the trail that you’ll miss if you keep your head down too long.

I couldn’t even try to list all of the people that have taught me kindness and how to lift another person up.

I am thankful to everyone I have met and am yet to meet. I only hope that I can pour into others the same as they have poured into me.


My name is Alex Tucker and I am fully invested in this endeavor. I plan to be consistent on this platform but if you would like to know more about me and my time on the trail you can follow me on Instagram @nobo.nomad!

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Comments 3

  • Turn To (James Whiteman) : Apr 11th

    Your doing great “Birdie”! Cant wait to hear how the Smokies go. Hopefully all the snow is now behind us and you will have clear skies through there.

    We also fell in love the hiking community. I have many life long friends now from the trail. Age is just a number it’s how we treat each other that matters.

    Happy Trails Alex!

  • Lewis Sharman : Apr 11th

    Hey Alex – I went to CSU, too, and I hiked the AT during my sophomore year (March-August)! We were on quarters back then (1975), and I took spring quarter off. Had my 20th birthday on the trail. For what it’s worth, so far I appreciate your attitude and approach. Your assessment of the importance of the people on your hike is spot on. Take care of them, and let them take care of you. I think you’re gonna be JUST FINE. Please hug a sassafras tree for me. Or a dogwood. Or a tulip poplar (I live in Alaska, and sometimes miss that country). Good luck!

  • Ron McHam : Apr 12th

    It is exciting to follow you on this adventure. We are neighbors with your parents next door at Cedar Creek. We are so looking forward to following you and can’t wait to hear your updates.


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