Seeing a guitarist's pack, I recognized the attitude long before I saw him. At another hostel he and his merry cluster were soaking in the freebies and drinking. My blood boiled as it took me several hard days of effort to get here. I held my tongue before someone gave me the hiker version of f*** off. Instead I put out my greetings as normal, "how was the hike?". Someone else responded, "Ok.". I knew full well the only thing they saw was the mountains in the distance.
Not all who hike are hiking but, many are claiming 'thru-hiker' as a title. Call me being irritated, call me judgemental, tell me to hike my own hike. I want to say it in the public forum before Bill Bryson's book "A Walk In The Woods" hits the theaters as a movie. Yes, it's in production and by someone well respected in my home community which I am loosing respect for, Robert Redford. This book isn't about the AT as a thru-hiker. It's about a travel writer who decided to hike because it was the cool thing to do and he did less then a 1/4 of the trail and spent a lot of excessive time thinking about or being in town. I hope the movie reflects that the book isn't about the AT.
Hiking the AT is hard. It is not easy. It is not the cool thing to do. Hike your own hike with ligitamacy. Please when looking at the AT, hike with a solid reason for being here. Partying is not a good reason, do that at home, a bar, or frat house. Hiking the AT is no the cool thing to do and I hope it never becomes that.
Forest and others like him hitch hike from freeby location to freeby location taking advantage of what's made available for those who are on the trail hiking over ridges and through the forests. Sometimes they have a ligitmate (sorry spell check couldn't find the word) reason for doing so. Sometimes they are just doing it for the summer party.
There are others who aren't chasing a party and are homeless who do enjoy making the most of the beautiful weather before they head back into the city for the winter cold months. I've met a few of them too.
This ends my rant. Time to leave town again. Don't get me wrong, there are many reasons to hike the AT. I hope that hikers loose the partying stigma that's made town folks hate us. There are many great people out here that are respectful and clean.