From Human to Hikertrash

“Normal Life” vs Thru-hiking Life

While prepping for my hike on the CDT next month, I have noticed that some thru-hiking habits have become part of my everyday life. There are weird ways that hikers (or hikertrash, as we are affectionately called) think about things like time, money, and food that don’t mesh well with “normal life.” But knowing that I’m almost on the trail again, I have started to let these mindsets take over my thinking. Every time I catch myself embracing these changes, I start to get even more excited! Here are some things I’ve noticed changing for me that haven’t seemed normal since I stepped off the PCT.

Hanging out in parking lots is perfectly normal! Wrightwood, CA.

It’s Just Another Mile or So…

During my hike on the PCT, time wasn’t measured in minutes or hours. It was measured in miles. For me, a mile was twenty minutes, give or take. That meant that when someone asked when I was stopping for the night, I wouldn’t reply with a time but a mileage. I was never an hour from camp; I was three miles. With all the hiking I’ve been doing to prepare, it’s been easy to slip back into this habit. At work, I’ve started to think of my shifts in terms of the number of miles I could have walked. I guess when I get back on the trail, this will feel normal! Miles, not minutes.

Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA.

Counting Calories

“Normal life” is all about proper diet and regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But in the last month, I have been walking and eating differently. Calories are a thru-hiker’s best friend. Food, and a lot of it, are not a luxury but a necessity. Carbs, calories, and fats that I would usually avoid are about to become fuel to get me through 20-mile days. That thought has occurred to me more than once when I’m asked if I want seconds at dinner. Food now is fuel later.

I am no expert on the subject of food and nutrition, especially on a thru-hike. But my hiking buddy, Spice Rack, has written a book on that subject! I recommend it to anyone curious about the toll that hiking takes on your body and how to stay healthy on the trail. His work is available for free here:

The Art of Discomfort: The Thru-hiker’s Guide to Success through Nutrition

Spice Rack enjoying some well-deserved sugar in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

Suffer Now, Splurge Later

The last change is money. I’ve got one goal, and that’s to walk from Mexico to Canada. That leaves me with six months of no income and a lot of expense. Budgeting for something like this hike is difficult. There are always emergencies. I will always need to replace gear, and hotels and hot meals are essential along the way and not always cheap.

I have spent the last year saving for this and trying to limit my spending. Every time I spend money at home, that’s a luxury I’ve lost for this summer. Grabbing a pizza on the way home from work is a pizza I won’t get to enjoy in a trail town with fellow hikertrash. I want to be able to splurge on my hike this summer and enjoy every minute, and that means keeping my spending at home to the absolute minimum.

A Different Life

I know from experience that life on the trail is different than life here in the city. Other than the obvious differences like the landscape and the lingo, there’s a whole different way of thinking when you’re out there. Being called hikertrash is an honor, and I’m ready to embrace that title again. Cleanliness is relative. Food is for sustenance, not flavor. Even the dingiest hotel is a luxury as long as it has a wall outlet. It’s exciting to feel those changes starting to creep into my life here in Dallas. I am ready to be back on the trail and live life with just me and my backpack. I think I am so much more excited this time around because I know what I’m getting myself into. There is less fear and fewer unknowns. Bring on the familiar discomfort!

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Comments 3

  • Uzma : Mar 18th

    Great article. Cant wait ti follow u in ur journey. Im soo excited for u!!!

  • Sidewinder : Mar 18th

    Nicely written article! Launch date is fast approaching and I’m so excited to follow your miles!

  • Mama Mav : Mar 18th

    Can wait to follow your journey. If you are ever in need , remember I am good at bounce boxes.


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