Top 10 Ways to Determine if Someone is a Thru-hiker

I was recently in Great Smoky Mountains National park and saw two young guys hitchhiking. Thinking about the wonderful people I met when I was thru-hiking,  I stopped to offer them a ride. Of course they took me up on this, chatting pleasantly as we braved the congestion on the way through the park to Clingman’s Dome. What fun! It brought back such memories.

hike-7604So let’s say you’re out hiking along the Appalachian Trail, in one of the 14 states that it passes through, when hey, there up ahead is a hiker coming towards you. She has a backpack on. Is He a thru-hiker, or just a day hiker. Want to know how to tell? Here’s a countdown sharing with you the top 10 ways you can determine if someone is a thru-hiker (besides asking them of course!)
10. In grocery and convenient stores they don’t check the nutritional information or price, but rather you might see them lift the item to try and determine its weight… you can almost hear their thoughts…which one is lighter?

9. They show blatant disregard for signs requesting them to “leave backpacks here,” and if you accidentally drop one or two m &ms or other such candy on the bare ground, they will pick them up, dust them off and eat them with a zest normally reserved for greater things.

hike-2448. When introducing themselves they offer completely untraditional names/words and even phrases, such as “The Lollygagger,” “Tumbleweed” or “Bear Bait.”

7. In resturants they order more than one entree at a time, then eat every last bit, then order dessert and eat that all too. And when they stand up you can see they can’t possibly have an ounce of fat on them! How did they EAT ALL THAT?

6.In grocery stores, when they go to pay, you can put money on the fact that they have ZERO pennies, dimes, nickels, quarters, avoiding change as if it were a deadly disease. And before they even get out the doors, they are already tearing into the packages to discard the boxes and other unnecessary packaging.

hike-62900305. No matter where or when you see them, they are always wearing the exact same clothes.

4. They express glee and delight when they spot a drinking fountain, bathroom with indoor plumbing, and especially, a garbage can.

3.Their feet (in addition to being foul smelling) appear aged, dirty and swollen and they sport duct tape, bandaids and mole skin as if it were tatoos.

2. Even on a bright sunny, blue sky day, they can be seen walking around town in nothing but a raincoat and rain pants (a sure sign they are doing their laundry.)

1. When they remove their boots or step close in an enclosed space, a most utterly foul and pungent odor will permeate the room and make it uninhabitable within mere seconds. That’s why the window’s open even though it’s only 25 degrees!

Is that a thru-hiker? You bet s/he is! Maybe stop and offer them a ride, a word of good luck or a candy bar you’ve been saving. Did you know this will make you a “trail angel?”hike-0547

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