The Best Games to Play on the Appalachian Trail
Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was the best experience of my life. However, that doesn’t mean the entire experience was great. When doing nothing but hiking for six months straight, you get intensely bored and there are times when your mind borders on insane. This doesn’t apply quite as much down South, but as you hike further and longer you will rely on games to get you through some rough patches. Below are just a few of the games I highly recommend, as well as some terrible mind games to stay away from.
THE BEST TRAIL GAMES
The Name Game
This one’s tough. As you meet people along the trail, you realize you’re making pretty serious friendships with people whose real names you don’t know. We started guessing what their names were based solely on their looks. Eventually, we would ask what their real names were. We never won.
The Guessing Game
My boyfriend and I played this game for literally hours. I took great pleasure trying to think of the most obscure possible thing and laughing while he incorrectly guessed. It’s simple:
- One person thinks of a person, place or thing
- The other person asks whether it’s a person, place or thing, and then asks yes or no questions to try to figure out what it is.
It’s not rocket science, but it is very entertaining and—if you’re clever—can take up a lot of time.
The Alphabet Game is great for keeping yourself entertained and for keeping your brain sharp (well, kind of sharp). You can play with any number of people, and you basically take turns coming up with a word for each letter of the alphabet, but have to repeat all previous words each time it’s your turn. For example:
Person 1: “A is for apple.”
Person 2: “A is for apple, B is for banana.”
Person 3: “A is for apple, B is for banana, C is for cat.”
You get it. To make the game even more fun, pick a theme. During the worst of the Pennsylvania rocks, we played a whole game themed with all the terrible things about Pennsylvania. The opportunities are endless.
My boyfriend is obsessed with Mrs. Doubtfire. Robin Williams died while we were on the trail, which led to even more Mrs. Doubtfire references and quotes. One night, we had already set up camp and eaten dinner and were trying to think of a way to be entertained. He decided to act out Mrs. Doubtfire, and I spent the next hour watching him like it was the real movie. He did all the parts (including the little girl) and got through a surprising amount of the movie before we decided to go to bed. However, this requires a near-obsession with a movie.
We were introduced to riddles by our friend and fellow thru-hiker Crews. Crews was packed-full of super tough riddles about midgets and elevators and bicycles and things that took us hours to figure out. Riddles basically are very obscure situations for which you have to find the “logical” reason. They are tough, and never what you think. As it turned out, everyone except for us knew about riddles long before we met Crews, and I’m sure they are on the trail this year. Ask around!
WORST TRAIL GAMES
Anything related to food
Fantasizing about what you’re going to eat in the next town, or what you would rather eat than that tuna wrap, is a dangerous game. I used to want eggs and bacon so badly in the morning that I would have food mirages and actually be able to smell it cooking. Imagine my disappointment when I got to a shelter with no insanely awesome breakfast trail magic. Do yourself a favor and have more willpower than me.
What You Would Rather be Doing
As the monotony of the trail becomes hard to deal with, do NOT think about what you would rather be doing. Even the most dedicated hiker has days where they would rather be doing something else, and indulging in that is a dangerous game. Yes, sitting in your air conditioned home in the bathtub with a beer would be way better than hiking the 20 miles you plan on hiking today, but going to a 9-5 job and hating your life is way worse. Don’t let your mind wander too much.
What are some of the ways you keep yourself entertained on long hikes?
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