Comments on my last post about ultra-marathoners on the Appalachian Trail generated some interesting responses.
But AT Class of 2007 thru-hiker Woodstock came to the defense of those who attempt to set speed records on the trail.
While it’s wise to consider appropriate uses of trails like the AT, I’m going to straddle the fence here. To be sure, I think you have to be crazy to run a 100-mile marathon, let alone a 2175-mile trail. I am also frequent to complain about so many people using their thru-hike to champion a cause.
But every time I start to question why someone did this or that on the trail, I always come back to the age-old reminder, “hike your own hike.”
Sometimes we hike for profound, life-changing reasons. Sometimes we hike because it’s fun.
An article about Lane Nakaji’s Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times drove that point home for me.
People attempt long-distance hikes for a variety of reasons. For some, it marks an important moment in life, such as college graduation or retirement from a desk job, according to (PCT Communicator Editor) Angela Ballard.
Others set out with ambitions of writing a book or selling photos from their journey.
But Nakaji had no such plans. Instead, he took the first steps of a journey that wouldn’t end until Sept. 13 for different reasons — to tackle a challenge while connecting with nature.
“Around (Western North Carolina), I go out for a day or two at the most, usually it’s just overnight like most people,” he said. “But you come back, get back to work, and you’re kind of sore. You never really have a complete chance to get immersed into your surroundings. And I think that if you’re out there for more than four or five days, it starts to get easier.”