Thru-Hikers Are Selfish

Choosing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail is the most selfish decision I have ever made.

There is a sense of pride in taking on a challenge of such magnitude as the Pacific Crest Trail, a sense of accomplishment in the decision and preparation, and all before stepping a single foot onto the trail.

Family and friends feed into it. The ego of a potential thru-hiker is inflated exponentially by the back-pats of fathers, hugs of mothers, the turned-up thumbs of siblings, and the ‘how can you just do something like that?‘ questions dropped by best friends– to which must be replied with ‘well, let me puff out my chest and just tell you all about this thing I haven’t done yet!‘ Thru-hikers choose to abandon their lives. Jobs are discarded and families are left behind.


It will only be for five months or so, I’ll see you guys again soon. Why don’t you come meet me out on the trail, that would be fun! Hey, by the way, can you watch my cat for me? Oh, and I’ll be needing a place to store my things. Would you mind? Some of those things I will need out on the trail, and I was hoping you could mail them to me. Remember to water my plants, and when you get my mail just sort out all the junk and throw it away for me. I trust you. Thanks for giving me a ride to the drop off point. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s sad that I won’t make it to Terry’s wedding, but they knew I was going out on the trail when they scheduled it and I only have such a short timeframe to get this done.

The support of close friends and family is what makes a thru-hiker’s selfish challenge possible. The small requests of a thru-hiker are never ending, but neither is their appreciation. Some may have it easier than others, and I am certainly blessed to be surrounded by the amazing people who are supporting me on this journey, but all thru-hikers are selfish in their quest and should remain steadfast in their efforts to remain humble and grateful.

The planning and preparation for a thru-hike is immense, and the hike itself is often too much to handle for those who set out to conquer it. Thru-hikers are more than selfish, they are also passionate about their adventure, stubborn in the face of adversity, smart, strong-willed, and so much more.

And the thing about being selfish is that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Deciding to take on this quest is the most selfish decision I have ever made, but it is something I feel I need to do for myself. I believe most thru-hikers would say the same. The trail is calling to those who need to heal, those who need to find themselves, those who simply thirst for adventure. Selfishness, at certain times in life, is necessary.

Crossposted at TryBeWrite

4 thoughts on “Thru-Hikers Are Selfish

  1. I totally agree. Prior to leaving my wife and I felt that this was my quest – my thing. But during it my entire family and close friends became involved. From me originally resupplying myself as I went to shifting it over to her and my adult daughter. From hiking solo to meeting and hiking with my two adult sons for 150 miles each, and to meeting my daughter at the northern terminus. On the way I met and stayed with a cousin in Ashland. One old friend and her husband brought me dinner in Cascade Locks, and others sent me care packages to my resupply stops or added treats in the ones from home. So instead of the quote “it takes a village to raise a child” it should be paraphrased “it takes a community to support a thru-hiker”. Would I have done it any other way? Nope. I am too selfish to say otherwise. QED. Sincerely, Tartan PCT 2014.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I pressed the right keys, I will be able to communicate now with Jill and RT. (For those who do not know me, I am about as “low tech” as it gets.) Okay, here goes…

    I am “with you” all the way in your exciting challenge. It brings to mind one of my adventures of decades back, i.e., quitting my job in Sacramento and driving “North to Alaska” on the Alaska highway which begins at Dawson Creek, Alaska. Prior to beginning my trip I told my Aunt in Coalinga, CA. what I intended to do. I will never forget that horrified look on her face. (She had lived all her life in Coalinga.)

    The news of your walking the PCT really gets my blood moving!


    Gram in Bandon, Oregon

    Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2015 23:37:08 +0000 To:


  3. And do you know why we are so supportive? Because we get to stay on our couches and hike the trail vicariously through you, without putting on packs, getting blisters, or getting smelly. You go on and do it, we’ll stay home and watch on our cell phones 🙂


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