I Asked 8 Hikers 3 Things They Think About Most on Trail

Let Your Mind Wander

Have you ever been driving home from work and suddenly realize, you had been zoning out for the past 10 minutes? Your mind wandering to places you weren’t conscious of while your hands instinctively turn the wheel the correct direction?

There’s a similar occurrence with hikers. With hours of their days spent walking, it would be difficult to be one hundred percent mindful of their surroundings in every moment.

Perhaps you have an avid hiker friend or family member. You wonder how they can hike so long and not get bored. Maybe they are on a long trail this summer and you haven’t seen them in months! That leaves even more time to think. So what do these hikers think about? Besides of course double cheeseburgers, cold drinks, and ice cream awaiting them in town. There must be more occupying their mind.

As a hiker currently on the Pacific Crest Trail, I have a lot on my mind throughout the day. But I was curious about what wanders through other hikers’ minds on the daily.

I asked 8 different hikers, 3 things they think about while they hike, and these were their responses. Enjoy!

B,O’B (Big, Ol’ Baby) | Little Rock, Arkansas

Etna, CA
NOBO mile 1655.9

1. Understanding different qualities of himself and building a new person through this experience.

2. The past and his connections with others

3. Daydreams about basketball or playing music

Karate Kid | Clearwater, Idaho

Trinity Alps Wilderness
NOBO mile 1551.9

1. The three-course meal he wants to cook for his friends when he gets home.

2. Makes would you rather questions for himself to answer.

3. Is teaching himself Spanish and practices by making up scenarios of conversations.

Crumbs | Portland, Oregon

Trinity Alps Wilderness
NOBO mile 1533.8

1. Food

2. Water

3. Weed

Shade | Orange County 

Castle Crags Wilderness
Around NOBO mile 1523

1. Ice Cream

2. What tattoos she wants to get.

3. What she’ll do when she gets home. A mental to-do list.

TBone | Nebraska

Around NOBO mile 1496

1. The future with his girlfriend Happy.

2. Investing so that he can one day not work and hike his whole life.

3. How much he’ll miss the trail when he’s done.

Tiger (Tiger Balm) | Nashua, New Hampshire

Castle Crags Wilderness
Around NOBO mile 1519

1. Life at home. Changing routine after experiencing such a simple life on trail.

2. Sharing hiking with others

3. Cold beer/burgers

Unwell | Topeka, Kansas

NOBO mile 1479.3

1. Interesting facts about insects she sees on trail. The ins and outs of butterflies lives.

2. How crazy it is that trail angels are so willing to help when we are willingly homeless.

3. Excitement for the future/replaying the past.

Ravioli | Detroit, Michigan

NOBO mile 1479.3

1. What she wants to do after the trail

2. How special it is to be on the PCT, reflecting on how far she’s gone and the people she’s met.

3. Looking forward to milestones and most recently trail days in Cascade Locks, Oregon.

My Thoughts

When I asked these hikers what 3 things they thought about most while they hike, I noticed some found it difficult to answer. It’s a tough question when your brain is thinking all day long. We don’t usually dissect our thoughts.

On trail I let my mind wander wherever it wants to go. I like to take notice what place it happens to land. I believe after a couple of months on trail this lifestyle is adapted fully. Our movements are put on autopilot, we often forget to take a moment to be present. Asking them this seemingly simple question prompted me to take a step back. To continue my daydreaming, but to be more present and appreciate the incredible journey of the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Comments 7

  • Elaine Ramsey : Aug 1st

    This was such a good idea Emma!

  • Andi "Chitchat" Füss : Aug 3rd

    I absolutely loved this blog post. I read alot of posts and live vicariously through them, until the one day I will set out and obtain my goals. This was a precious addition to the toolbox..thank you!

  • Krys : Aug 3rd

    This was a fun article! Thank you for it. I often times find myself thinking the most random topics while hiking… it is also my space for reflection and healing! Keep up the awesome work and journey!

  • Chris : Aug 4th

    It’s Topeka, the capital of Kansas lol

  • C : Aug 5th

    Nobody thinks about bears or mountain lions?

    • Jingle bells : Aug 9th

      I do. And I’m just AT section hiker. 1 bears 2 whenwhere to go to the bathroom 3 next water supply

  • N. (Female) : Aug 10th

    Amusing! I have never before really reflected on it, and I would not have been ready to give a prompt answer if asked unprepared. (1) However, I think much about the people I meet, who they really are, why they are here, and even practical details about them (e.g. have they pooped today!!) (2) Then I think much on the route I am walking, comparing with the map etc, figuring out what comes next, including weather. (3) At last I think (as Jingle Bells above) about lots of practical details, as finding water, where to take a break (not least “safe” spots where to pee and poop). (When I go to sleep I often relax with some type of sexual fantasies.)


What Do You Think?