How to Talk to Your Parents About Being a Thru-Hiker

When your parents find out that you’ve committed yourself to a thru-hike, they’ll have questions. Here are a few things they might ask, along with examples of what you should say, and what you absolutely should NOT say, in response.

Have you done anything like this before?

Say this:
“‘Course I have!”

NOT this:
“Anything like this exactly? No, not exactly. But something irresponsible and dangerous and expensive? Sure, all the time.”

What about bears?

Say this:
“I’ll be hanging my food in a tree at night, so the bears won’t go near my tent. Anyways, bears are afraid of humans, so they usually just run away if they hear you.”

NOT this:
“…though the bears that don’t run away tend to be quite quarrelsome.”

And wolves?

Say this:
“Wolves are super rare in the Appalachians.”

NOT this:
“…it’s the mountain lions that’ll getcha.”

What will you eat?

Say this:
“There’s all sorts of backpacker meals you can buy these days – packets of dehydrated food that are loaded with whole grains and veggies and protein. And they’re actually not half bad.”

NOT this:
“Remember that movie Home Alone, when Kevin orders room service?”

And if you run out of food?

Say this:
“The Trail is actually quite busy, so there’ll always be someone nearby with a snack.”

NOT this:
“…plus, there’s always plenty of berries and wild mushrooms for picking!”

What is ‘trail magic’?

Say this:
“It’s a miracle of human generosity that truly evinces the community-spirit of the Trail.”

NOT this:
“It’s when strangers leave out boxes of free food for hikers. Free! No one really knows why they do it, but the boxes are filled with tasty snacks and home-baked goods and…”

What if you get hurt?

Say this:
“I’ll have an emergency medical kit.”

NOT this:
“…which comprises 12 ft of duct tape wrapped around a bottle of ibuprofen.”

How long will you be gone?

Say this:
“I’m planning to be done by (insert date at least one week BEFORE your mom’s birthday).”

NOT this:
“…plus or minus a month or several.”

Will you keep be able to keep in touch?

Say this:
“Sure! I’ll have my phone with me the whole way. Text when whenever you’d like.”

NOT this:
“…and I’ll respond likewise.”

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Longsleeves : Apr 8th

    And wolves?

    Say this:
    “Wolves are super rare in the Appalachians.”

    NOT this:
    “…it’s the mountain lions that’ll getcha.”

    Made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

    Reply

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