So after taking over another thread, I've been convinced to start my own about long distance hiking and traveling lifestyle in general. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (2,187 miles) in 2014, and have been traveling for the last 3 years. Ask me questions, I'll tell stories, talk about your own experiences, whatever floats your boat.
Travelers, hikers, dropouts, drifters, bums, or just curious people talk about whatever you want.
Depends. As far as weather or fear for my own life it would be crossing an exposed saddle between two peaks in the middle of a fucking isane storm while tripping balls on LSD (i talked about it in the other thread). Possibly could be the time I almost drowned fording a stream that was way too deep for me to safley attempt. Water logged my pack and I fell and got pinned down for what seemed like forever.
As for people I met, well there have been a lot of strange folk, some of whom I already talked about in the last thread. One of the stranger ones I haven't talked about yet was Frank Stevens.
Posted this in the other thread! But have you ever been to Washington state? I backpacked for a week once in the summer! It was fantastic everything was so calm and everyone we met was super nice! We didn't bring any electronics with but it felt great to be disconnected for awhile! My favorite part of the whole trip was the nights! We were lucky enough to be able to camp out on the beach and the night was clear :) would love to do it again!
K so fucking Frank Stevens. A bunch of friends and I were camped in some backyard in some town in Conneticut. The homeowner was well known for letting hikers sleep there so it was all cool with them. We woke up in the morning and were just doing regular hiker trash stuff (drinking tallboys, smoking weed, whatever) when this fucking obliteratedly drunk dude shows up. He's got like old-time renaissance Italy pants and shirt on, and a newsboy cap with a pheasant feather stuck in it (I also had a newsboy cap with a crow feather stuck in it, important detail for later). He has this weird, busted up old stringed instrument with him that has probably never been tuned in its life and he is just wailing on it as hard as he can. It was probably 8am, so not super early, but still this shit was loud and sounded terrible. A neighbor rolls down her window and really aggressively screams at us to shut up, but this dude just doesn't give a fuck. He goes right below her window and starts slurringly shouting random words while playing even louder. She gets pissed and tells us she's calling the cops on us for being vagrants. We don't really care about that, it is pretty normal at this point.
So the guy tells us his name is Frank Stevens and that he is wanted by the State police. That is literally how he introduced himself. Then he fell flat on his face. He got up and asked my friend G-String if he could play his guitar and then just picked it up without waiting for his answer and proceeded to just wail on the poor thing. Then he fell over again. He got back up and asked if he could play my banjo and I told him "fuck no" which kind of made him sad. He then started rambling on about his travels and how everyone knows who he was and then he gives us 50$ and fucks off.
>>595695026 Yeah he also had a bong with him, you can see it in the foreground of the photo >>595694810 Yeah that was a pretty low note, 500$ vet bill too >>595694423 Haven't been to WA, but I plan to thru-hike the PCT so I'll be there then.
>>595695155 So we take the $50 and go to buy breakfast with it. Normally we would have just had ramen noodles or something but fuck yeah 50$ for free. We're eating at an outdoor cafe when a State Trooper car pulls up. The Cop got out and started walking towards our table. We were pretty used to being harrased by cops at this point so thought nothing of it. The cop walks up and just fucking stares at me, and his hand starts to rest on top of his gun. He yells at me "FRANK STEVENS!?" and gets himeslf in the "I"m ready to fucking shoot you if you mess around" position. We all start laughing and I just tell him "nah dude, I'm a different drunken asshole". He takes my ID and confirms that I am in fact not Frank Stevens and then asks where I got my hat. I tell him I got it in Virginia, and that it is just a coincidence that Frank had the same hat even down to a feather.
Now I kind of fucked up and let him know I knew who Frank was so he starts questioning us. We just tell him what happened, and neglect to tell him which direction we saw Frank head off in last as we didn't want to fuck him over.
Well an hour or so later I fucking saw Frank Stevens get arrested in the middle of an intersection. He was sitting on top of this statue thing that was in the interestion, swearing at cars playing his weird instrument. The cops were trying to get him down and he was just kicking at their hands as they tried to climb the statue, not skipping a beat in his deranged ballad.
I watched as they tore him off the statue, kicked him around, and threw him in the car. I don't know where he is now but I hope he is serenading some unwilling female at this moment.
Hmm, favorite states on the AT were Maine and Virginia. As far as states in general I'd add Colorado and Wyoming to that list, although fuck Wyoming's strict as hell laws.
>>595695248 It is great. Being in town it can be a bit of a hassle as I'll have to tie her up outside before resupplying and some hostel owners and motels don't like having dogs around. Besides the porcupine thing though everything went awesome.
Some dogs aren't cut out for it though. Mine loves it, and gets all mopey when we're crashing somewhere for a while.
>>595696351 Ever been to Montana, OP? I was born and raised there for the first 16 years of my life. It's incredible to backpack around there during the summertime, and wintertime if you want to get a little more extreme.
Hop on the PCT. One of the best long distance trails in the Country goes right through WA. Once you get down to CA you can hitch anywhere too if you don't want to keep on hiking the same trail.
That's another thing. All my life I've heard how dangerous hitchhiking is, how dangerous hitchikers are, and how dangerous the people that pick you up are. That is bullshit. Sure, there are weird people out there, but there are weird people everywhere. Just keep your head on your shoulders and trust your instincts.
I met some really fucking cool people hitching. Pic related, one of my friends drinking some whiskey while we hitched 300 miles in the back of a dump truck.
Don't really want to share my trail name, the trail is a really close knit community and I just don't feel super comfortable with it. I dunno why, but I can't of feel like it is sacred and not something to just give out to anyone. Also, a lot of people on trail know who I am for whatever reason.
Most ridiculous name was Cumshot. The guy had a huge fucking blister on his foot and was hiking with a nurse who offered to lance it for him. When she did, it exploded in her face and that is how he got his name.
>>595697111 Nice trips. Yeah, the state is massive. Should go skiing around Bozeman. How do you make cash? Odd jobs? Enough in savings to live light? How old were you when you started doing this kind of stuff?
>>595696882 The PCT will literally take me to caifornia? Shiiit, I'm gonna be finished with my undergrad shit this June and I might be taking a year off. Maybe I oughta hit that trail up, always wanted to go to California. I mean, I've been before, but that was years and years ago, and with my family. Needless to say, I don't think I experienced California in the way I want to.
The PCT will literally take you to the boarder with Mexico if you follow the entire thing. Most people start down south though and head up to towards the Canadian border.
Yeah I've wanted to ski Bridger Bowl for a while. I fucking love skiing, but it is expensive so I can't justify it as much as I used to be able to before I started traveling. Speaking of which, yeah I'll do oddjobs for people in town or whatever, usually great cause they also give you somewhere to stay and feed you. I also busk (play music in public) and make money doing that. People give me money all the time for no reason too, usually like a $20 or something which helps a lot. I have cashed saved up too, I have enough to do this for a while without any work if that is what I choose to do but I prefer doing odd jobs and trying to live it sustainably. I was 21 when I started traveling as a lifestyle, but I've was doing it more casually since highschool. I'm 24 now.
>>595698130 I lived there and had a pass, so I just abused the fuck out of that mountain. Good times, smoking a joint with a friend before skiing down. So, you get run ins with the police a lot? If I were to do this, I would probably pack a pound of bud with me before I left. Yes, a pound. Good shit too, thank god for medical marijuana and my medical card. What are the chances I'll just get harassed and they might smell that? Or like, some trail person robbing me? I would probably be selling it too, so a gun is out of the question because there's a big difference in your sentence between selling bud, and selling bud while armed and dangerous.
>>595698868 I don't have much of my own money now to act as a safety net and don't want to have my parents funding me dicking around for a year (they'd love the idea, but wouldn't want to pay for it). I'm probably going to work for a year then hike the AT with a friend (NCfag).
Pic is from backpacking in Australia, Blue Mountains. I took a train and hitchhiked to get out there and back, met some really cool people.
It helps me pay the bills but I would bring it even if it didn't. Being able to play music is pretty much a requirement for me, I don't know what I'd do withmyself if I couldn't. It is also really fun when you're hiking with someone else with an instrument and you can jam at campfires and shit. People smoke you out a lot too.
As for gear (also for you>>595699011) I am pretty barebones. In the spring/summer/early fall I carry a 20 degree F down bag (REI Igneo, great bag), an ultralight rain tarp for shelter, no stove (cook on campfire or not at all), one set of clothes with usually an extra pair of socks and boxers (everything synthetic or wool), a rain jacket, and that is pretty much it. I hike in sandals (chacos) or lightweight boots in the winter or whenever there might be snow.
In colder weather I have a one person tarp-tent that I use mostly to keep the dog warm, I don't really get cold easily.
Summer time bag weighs about 23 lbs with 4 days of food and a liter of water, winter time is about 33 with warmer clothes and the tent. In the summer I mostly cowboy camp because I fucking love it.
>>595698868 Do you have 1-2 people that you continually hike/travel with or is it a more come-and-go attitude? I don't mind sleeping in a different place every night, but it'd probably be nice to have some consistent company. I'm sure the dog helps. I'm more of a cat person but I know a good dog would be fantastic for what you do.
I travel with people when I like them and it suits my pace, but never for too long. Meeting new people was part of what made the AT such an awesome experience. I very rarily actually hike with anyone though, I like to hike alone and then meet up with people at the end of the day.
The AT community is really close knit and has a pretty unique culture. Everyone knows eachother, or at least knows of eachother. Most people are pretty like minded and cool. Great thing is if you don't like someone you can just hike on.
When I'm not on trail I tend to travel alone because you just don't meet as many people who are going the same way you are.
>>595700333 Huh - you might know one of my friends that did the AT a couple years ago. Don't want to say his name, but he was an undergrad at UNC-CH at the time. Got a sizable beard by the end. Dutch name.
There was one friend I hiked most of the AT with. We met early on and were just really like minded and shared a lot of interests. He quickly became one of the best friends I've ever had. There were other groups I would fall in and out of along the way.
You can easily hike the entire trail with other people if you want, or by yourself if you choose that route. I liked doing a bit of both.
>>595699909 Have money saved up from jobs I've done in the past, plus I make money playing music or doing odd jobs in town when I can. I crash at friend's places sometimes to take time off from hiking and let my body rest and in those times I sometimes pick up temp work. In general though my lifestyle is cheap as fuck and I can just make enough as I go.
I have a safteynet though if I need it, money I never touch.
I use FB sometimes to keep track of other hikers and to see when hiker parties or feeds or other events are going on. I don't have a phone that can access internet though so I rarely have the opportunity. I'm crashing at a friend's place right now for a month or so, so I have internet now.
>>595700733 Have you ever had any more serious medical issues while hiking? Or known anyone who did? I.e. getting a broken foot in the middle of nowhere or a bad infection. That might be what concerns me the most.
I've had a lot of somewhat minor injuries along the way. Stress fractures in your feet happen often. I've been lucky though in that I haven't had any injuries that have stopped me from hiking for more than a week or two. I know people who have broken legs, ankles etc.
Everytime I slip I have a little moment of panic that I'm going to be stuck without being able to get out, but if that happens I'm sure I'll deal with it.
I don't know how it started, but it just another thing that gives the AT culture it's unique vibe. I really like the idea. You take on a new identity while living in the woods for months at a time, so it sort of reflects that. It is also tied into the logbook phenomenon. There are logbooks all along the trail that serve almost like a 2dimensional social network.
I lost contact with some people I would love to still be in contact with, but there is something even about that which I find valuable.
Anyways, travelers of all different paths use nicknames for eachother.
More head North, by far. Going southbound (SOBO) would be kinda cool but Mt. Springer, the southern terminus, is really nothing special at all. Ending on Katahdin is a pretty special experience. People who are generally really solitary and don't want to see other people on their hike much go southbound.
Most of the sex I had was with locals, especially down south. Girls down south along trail towns love hikers cause we seem dangerous and romantic to them I guess so it is pretty easy to get laid.
Hiker trash chicks are okay, but they tend to be full of themselves becuase there are way more dudes than girls so they get a lot of attention. Also, they can get clingy and want to hike with you all the time and shit like that.
Best thing about locals is they usually let you crash with them for a night or two and you get free meals, shower, and laundry.
After you get through Tennessee it stops feeling mountainous until you hit Vermont. New Hampshire and Maine are by far the most dramatic landscapes of the trail, as well as the hardest. The Whites in NH and all of the mountains in Maine are spectacular.
NC was the hardest of the southern states, but has nothing at all on NH and ME. The mountains up there are all just giant boulders you have to climb over and under and around. They're steep as fuck too.
NC has some long climbs but they're pretty gentle in terrain and grade. For instance Clingman's Dome is one of the easiest notable summits on the trail, while also being the highest point.
Rockies have a more dramatic scale and the views are grander, but the grade and trail conditions on the AT when in the tougher stretches is much more brutal. AT has the most extreme grades and is technically the "hardest" in terms of the actual terrain of the three triple crown trails, although they are all hard in different ways.
Trails in the Rockies don't typically go straight to the peak on the shortest possible way regardless of the intensity of the terrain, but on the AT they do. Becuase of this, the trail is steeper and more technical, and you also do more summits in a given day.
Before I hiked the AT I thought it was going to be easy because my mountain experience was all in the Rockies, but I was totally wrong.
I was there in October and the weather was awesome. It can snow any time at that time of year though. I would say probably September or August. In May-July it is crazy buggy with black flies and the're really annoying.
It was actually 4chan that first gave me the inspiration to start traveling more as a lifestyle than a hobby. Some guy in a thread was talking about how he had been depressed for a long time because there was something he really wanted to do (forgot what it was, but it wasn't hiking) but had been too afraid and apathetic to make any effort to do. Then he ended up getting terminal cancer or something and he talked about how much he regreted never doing it. It meant a lot to me, I've dealt with pretty serious depression most of my life, and had always avoided pretty much anything before that.
It inspired me to drive out to Wyoming and hike and drive around aimlessly traveling for a month or so and I never looked back from there. My depression comes back almost immediatly when I stop traveling but I know to expect that now.
The 6 1/2 months hiking the AT was the longest I've ever been conistantly happy in my life or at least as far back as I can remember. It was an incredibly powerful experience.
>>595707843 That's really awesome. My family has a lot of friends with pretty similar attitudes. My uni town is pretty miserable. There's very little green space, totally car-centric (I don't have a car), tons of strip malls.
I don't think I really acknowledge how much it gets to me. Looking forward to backpacking this spring break.
Yeah it is tough. No one around me really understands how much it has changed me and I feel it really hard to relate to old friends or whoever I end up crashing with. I miss my trail family really, really badly when I'm not with them. Especially bad right now since I'm back in Minnesota and the winter here is just fucking terrible. Pretty much just hibernating until I can get the fuck out of here and start traveling again.
Tried to get work at a gear outfitter to occupy my mind while I hibernate but I just couldn't deal with people telling me where and when to be, it seemed really unnatural. I quit after a week. I'm also not used to people around here being offended when I say whatever I'm thinking. Hikers don't really have a filter, and Minnesotans are notoriously passive and polite.
I still sleep in my sleeping bag on the floor with a pad. I get sore as fuck if I sleep on a matress.
I have a younger brother and sister. Don't really talk to them much though. As for toiletries, I had a toothbrush and toothpaste although I forgot to brush my teeth a lot. Toilet paper is a must, it sucks running out and having to use leaves.
>>595708500 I usually have a book with me and then trade it with someone when I'm done. I don't carry a journal, I have in the past and I never end up using it. I sort of wish I did but I just don't.
Yeah Clingman's was a huge let down. It was the first time I ran into tourists on trail (far from the last) and it was an overwhelming experience. Everyone taking my picture and trying to ask questions all at once when I all I wanted to do was sit down and smoke a cigarette.
New England is pretty boring, but you make it fun in other ways. I was stoned for all of MA and CT and barely even remember them. Those states were also where I would hike in cases of beer and other stupid shit like that.
What is the usual pace? you talk about trail fam but what pace would I need to hike not to pass eveyone. I can do 20 mile days in the smokies pretty easy when Im in trail shape and packing light. Would I pass everyone if I did the trail in 90-120 days or so?
>>595707843 >My depression comes back almost immediatly when I stop traveling but I know to expect that now.
Holy crap. I stopped traveling a couple of months ago after a few years of hitchhiking and jetsetting and generally being a homeless vagrant. It didn't take long to lose motivation and interest in most things.
Yeah people who go fast usually don't have much of a social experience. I know a lot of people that regretted doing it as fast as they did for that very reason.
I'd do anywhere from 6-30 miles in a day, just took it day by day. I never hiked just to stay at someone else's pace, so most of my friends ended up being people who had a similar pace to me.
Part of what I loved so much about the community of people I consider my family is that I could accidently pass them and never see them again. It gave you the feeling that the time you were spending with them was priceless since it could easily be the last time you'd see them.
I started out with an 8th and literally never didn't have weed with me. I don't smoke a ton (except I definitely did in CT and MA), mostly at night before I go to sleep so it would last me a while. It was almost paranormal how I would find weed. Everytime I was really really close to running out it would just fall into my lap in some strange and bizzare way. I learned to just put faith in that and know it would show up when I wanted it most.
>>595709815 Yeah man I'm pretty much just sleeping and smoking cigarettes until March hits and it is warm enough to hitch the fuck out of MN.
>>595709880 Probably Magic the Gathering decks. I carried 2-4 for the last 2/3rds of the trail after I met some friends that were serious players. I hadn't played since 5th grade but ended up buying a crappy intro deck at walmart.
I started playing a lot when one of my really good friends from the beggining of the trail caught up to me and saw me playing with some people. Turns out he was a judge and tournament player, so I played with him everytime we were hiking together. Ended up buying a bunch of singles at a card shop in vermont and making a really couple of decks.
It was ridiculous how many people played MtG on trail. In Tennesse we had about 13 people all playing and getting hammered at a little hiker party we threw.
If you can walk 25 miles a day you'll be fine. Just take it slow at first. People tend to burn themselves out going too far too fast early on. I did about 8 miles a day for all of Georgia and it was perfect.
Really the hard part of hiking is the mental fortitude to just keep doing it every day for so long. You get physically strong enough for the actual terrain pretty quickly but people just get burnt out.
Sorta misunderstood what you're asking. If you just want to aimlessley wander around Europe until you get bored I don't think you need any prep at all, you just need to get out there and do it. Since you don't really have to worry about resupplying or how far you go in a given day you could just grab some shit you think you need and keep truckin'.
This is an interesting read. I've just skimmed it so far but I'll properly read it soon. I dropped out of college and then thru-hiked the AT so I guess that is pretty relevant as far as relevance goes.
>>595710905 I noticed the MtG in >>595694024. Jealous as fuck. All my friends are into gaming, anime, computing, etc, but not traveling. So when traveling, I'm mostly by myself, but when I'm not, it's with people I have little in common with. Though, I still met some great people of course.
I introduced my really good friend (pictured here >>595712390,>>595711995) to anime while we were hiking. We watched the entirety of Gurren Lagaan and Cowboy Bebop entirely in McDonalds along the way, using their wifi. Took us from Tennessee to Vermont to finish them.
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