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14 Signs You Were Born to Hike the Appalachian Trail

Student Work Hiking
by Maggie Wallace Feb 26, 2015

1. You’ve always been very comfortable with your personal funk.

On the AT, showers are kind of like rainbows — infrequent, highly coveted, and more often than not delivered by the sky.

2. You are more than willing to spend $500 on the perfect tent. But more than $30 for a hotel room?

Absolutely not.

3. You always want to go further, further, further.

If you know that familiar feeling of getting to the top of a mountain out of pure curiosity, or walking beyond the halfway point because you just have to know what’s around the bend, you are made for thru-hiking.

4. You’re a whiz at recycling old things into new things.

A proclivity for re-purposing is a big plus on the AT when you’re reusing that disgusting Ziploc bag for the twelfth time or turning a piece of duct tape into an emergency spork.

5. You prefer the smell of campfire on your clothes to the smell of detergent.

6. Referring to food by color instead of flavor doesn’t seem that weird to you.

A popular meal on the AT was called ‘Brown’. It consisted of all things brown — instant oatmeal, instant coffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, soy sauce, instant hot cocoa, nuts, gravy — you name it and it was probably in Brown. If this doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry — you can wash down your Brown with a tasty energy drink that’s the flavor of Blue.

7. Your coworkers have awarded you the superlative “Most Likely to Break Down.”

Do you go home every night and watch that scene from Office Space where they destroy the fax machine? Or have you simply started to feel the cold futility of the daily grind slowly reshaping you into someone you never intended to be? It might be time to go for a long walk.

8. You are flexible and ingenious.

It takes an adaptable person to push themselves those last few miles even when they are unsure of where they will sleep that night or what they will eat tomorrow. It takes ingenuity to rig up a good bear bag. And it takes an absolute MacGuyver to set three guylines and four corners of a non-freestanding tent with only one stake — in the rain.

9. Fashion has never been your top priority.

On the runway of the AT, your clothing options will be limited. With a typical outfit of neon spandex and mud, you will often have to weigh the impressiveness of your activity against the humiliation of your clothes while posting pictures online.

10. You’ve always been able to keep yourself entertained.

You’re going to have a lot of hours alone with your own thoughts, so make them interesting.

11. You’re okay with people mistaking you for a homeless person.

No matter how you look when you start the trail, people are definitely going to think you’re homeless at some point. It will feel a little bizarre at first when people drop change in the coffee cup you’re drinking from outside of a gas station or hand you a candy bar through their car window, but sometimes the trail forces you to accept kindness from strangers.

12. You’ve never been that modest.

Being able to strip your wet clothes off in front of people is a must for hiking long distance. But don’t worry, you’ll find more of your modesty wear off every time someone discovers you peeing on what you didn’t realize was a switchback in the trail.

13. You’re a very patient person.

Walking 2,000 miles is not a quick matter. Knowing how to break that time commitment up into manageable chunks in your mind is invaluable, and having the wisdom to know when you need to stop and listen to your body is what allows you to finish the trail.

14. You have a strong desire to rise above the normal and to explore.

There are many physical and mental unpleasantries in travel, but sometimes these tangible realities can make the romance of your trip more real by comparison, rather than diminishing it. A yearning for greatness is healthier than greed or any other hunger. Don’t deny it — challenge yourself to an adventure.

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