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21 Things Only a Thru Hiker Would Understand - What's Your Favorite?

Absolutely love this article on Sea to Summit's blog about 21 things only a thru hiker would understand. Read and comment your favorite thing (#'s 1-21), and your personal experiences thru hiking!

My favorite is #17 - Rabbits Sound a Lot Like Serial Killers

  • When darkness comes, every sound leaves you wondering.... what was that? A rabbit, a raccoon, a deer, or something more sinister, perhaps a moose, cougar, bear, or even a serial killer?
  • Last time I when I was on the trail, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a noise that sounded an awful lot like a moose. Harmless, you might think. But ohhhhh, no. Not when it decides to run through your tent.... and you're in it... Lucky for me it turned out to just be a barred owl. My moose adventures will have to wait!

Can't wait to hear your experiences/thoughts!
9 Replies

@bryndsharp  This is great! We need to get #murderbunnies to start trending! In spite of mountains of evidence suggesting otherwise, I have an incredibly irrational fear of noises in the dark. No matter of exhaustion or mileage hiked in a day can put me into a slumber if I can hear snapping twigs or rustling in the bushes outside my tent. 


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

same here...(same hear, 😏)

REI Member Since 1979

Best thing I've read lately was that no one is afraid of being alone in the woods at night - they're afraid of NOT being alone in the woods at night  LOL


(And, by "they", I mean "me")

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

@Dad_Aint_Hip Haha you have it exactly right!

My two favorites go hand in hand: magic actually exists and small luxuries bring on big emotions. 

I've done the AT and the PCT. Thru hiking absolutely restores my faith in humanity. When I was on the AT in Shenandoah, a huge family had a 4th of July party at a shelter and cooked me and my dog a steak and gathered firewood for me before they left that night. A woman in PA took me and my dog home for three days so we could avoid the heat, and we took a field trip to the Asa Packer mansion in Jim Thorpe, PA. She packed me a lunch and we both cried when she dropped me off back on trail. A complete stranger gave me the keys to his car and entrusted me to drive it to a certain trailhead outside of Woodstock so he could slack pack himself over the section I had just come through. 

On the PCT, I met a couple at Sonora Pass with an extra pack horse, and they let me stay with them and ride horses the next day to an off-trail reservoir in the Sierra. When Camp 4 at Yosemite Valley was full and no one would pick me up as a hitch out, and the rangers told me they couldn't help me, I found a campsite full of strangers that invited me to camp with them and had an entire meal planned of burgers and corn on the cob. I love Snickers, and had packed in plenty, so I contributed Snickers as the desert that night. 

One of the fun parts of receiving the magic is giving it back, though: I geocached a bottle of wine at a road crossing and sent one of the members of my tramily (trail family) the GPS coordinates. 🙂 

But thru hiking teaches you to enjoy and very much appreciate the small things in life. You realize that all you need to survive, you have on your back, and everything else just makes your life easier. When I got Norovirus in Cali, my life was made easier by the fact that I got it in town and could stay in a hotel for three days. Air condition becomes a luxury. I even came to appreciate ice. I eventually began making a stop at a gas station on the way out of town and buying a bag of ice and filling my reservoir with it so I could have cold water for a few hours for the uphill out of town. 

I love the simple life of thru hiking. I miss it every day it's not raining. 😉

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-AngieH Thanks for sharing these beautiful moments! I agree that thru hiking truly does bring out the best in people.

And I agree with you about AC and ice - these "everyday" things that we become so accustomed to, until it's gone, and we miss it dearly. It humbles me as well to remember that we are very fortunate to have such commodities, and that many people in the world live a similar "lifestyle" to that of thru hikers, but live that lifestyle all day, every day.


Well no, TRICKS actually exist, "magic" does not. Unless you're talking about 'trail magic.'


My moose adventure, 10 days ago, Teton Wilderness, Wy

REI Member Since 1979
During breakfast at our camp near two ocean pass. spotted 2 moose feeding in the marsh below us. In a span of less than 20 minutes, they had moved up AND IN...

@Philreedshikes See, that's exactly what I'm talking about - Moose are curious!