Would You Thru-Hike a Long Trail? Which One?

adventure journal poll long trails

Have you seen Wild yet? Make sure you do – the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book is well done, and Reese Witherspoon is amazing. There’s veracity in every step, from the sounds gear makes when you’re shucking its labels to the brutal challenge of putting on a pack so heavy you have to get on hands and knees (been there, both). And there’s inspiration, too – the south end of the PCT is barely 60 miles from my house, and the first thing I did after going to the premiere a couple weeks ago was come home and start looking at trail maps.

The second thing I did was go out and bang off a quick 15 miles of the PCT on a section called Fuller Ridge, on the north side of Mount San Jacinto. And as I was sitting there in the November sun, noshing spicy almonds from Trader Joe’s, I thought about whether I wanted to hike the whole thing. The answer, of course, was yes. Whether I would or not, though, that was the real question.

It takes a special commitment to start a walk of nearly 3,000 miles and see it through to the end. Some people are driven by the need to prove themselves, some clutch at the quest as if to a life preserver, and some simply want to go for a long walk. The reasons people actually set themselves onto the trail and keep going until it’s done are probably as varied as the people themselves, but certainly they hint are complexity, the need for a test, and some propulsive force.

When I was growing up in Virginia, my best friend and I often talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail. It never happened, and I know enough about myself to know I won’t do more than sections of the PCT, even while I stay up late in bed with my phone, scrolling through topos on its glowing screen. It’s not that I lack commitment – it’s that I have an overpassion of commitments to the so many amazing other things I want to do.

But that’s me. What about you?

For the purpose of this poll, long trails are defined as a minimum of 800 miles, and only the most common are listed. Yes, that’s arbitrary, but let’s not get hung up on the definition. As always, feel free to add trails I’ve left out.

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adventure journal smith optics serpicoThis week, one poll participant will receive a pair of Smith Optics Serpico sunglasses. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) – all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Must have a U.S. or Canadian address. Contest ends Sunday, December 14, at midnight PST.

Congratulations to David Altmaier, who wins the Smiths this week!

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