Five Reasons Hikers Love the Hiking Community

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Hiking and Travel Tips

As I dropped off Hot Chocolate and Spotter at their hotel in downtown Tucson I sat back for a moment. I went thirty minutes out of my way home, gave a hitch to two strangers, and had the time of my life. And I realized why this is so vital, because of what it can provide you “off the trail.” In this article I share five reasons why hikers love the hiking community!

Five Reasons the Hiking Community Rocks includes stickers that share the story!
Hiking Community Stickers up at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Maine.

You can be a thru hiker, section hiker, or day hiker to get in on this way of living. You can also be a trail angel, trail magic performer, trail volunteer, or trail steward. But as I left the hotel from dropping these two section hikers off I realized how little hesitation I had to pick them up and give them a ride. It also wasn’t the first time I had done this. Many hikers share how getting off the trail is hard, because quite frankly, life on the trail is better. I understand and empathize. Here’s why, here’s how maybe it can improve, and here’s my five reasons why hikers simply love the hiking community and the benefits it brings.

First things first…

It’s a privilege to go hiking on public lands. Especially while you are taking a trip, on vacation, or on a holiday somewhere you don’t live. Giving love and respect to the culture is vital and while we are at it…Leave No Trace and Pack Your 10 Essentials :)!

And the hiking community is still dominated and run by well to do rich white men. While accessibility and embracement of Women, the BIPOC Community, the AAPI Community, the LGBTQIA+ Community, the Trans Community, anyone with physical conditions that might impair them, and any under resourced or marginalized group is improving vastly the catching up work is never ending. We need allies and accomplices to continue to shift and make it a space for everyone to fully enjoy. Not everyone has access to go hiking and not everyone feels safe or is able to do so even though they have the access. That MUST change.

Now onto the fun stuff…

Five Reasons Hikers love the Hiking Community.

  1. TRAMILY: Taking care of each other.
  2. Trail Angels, Trail Magic, Trail Stewards, and Trail Volunteers.
  3. Random Acts of Kindness.
  4. Fake Names and No Job Descriptions.
  5. It’s a chance to see the hope of what the world could be, off the trail.

TRAMILY: Taking care of each other

In thru hiking a “tramily” is who you typically hike with most days on your trek. However I use it to describe the whole hiking family. As a solo hiker I embrace everyone I meet and the community at large. If someone is out of food, you feed them. If someone needs a ride, you give it to them. If someone is hurt, you take time to get them assistance. If someone needs a little inspiration on a tough day, you provide it.

The philosophy I list above is how I hope we can all treat our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Both on and off the trail. We take care of each other and look out for each other. Race, class, religions (or lack thereof), countries of origin, and more do not matter.

We are all in this together.

Trail Angels, Trail Magic, Trail Stewards, and Trail Volunteers

Trail Angels: Like my buds Moose from New Jersey and Lenny and Pat from Pennsylvania. They cook food, give people medical equipment, and a place to sit.

Trail Magic: Like the guy who brought beers and water to the AZT Trailhead and gave them out to Hot Chocolate and Spotter before I gave them a ride into Tucson from Vail Arizona.

Trail Stewards: Ones like Dale who was a 35 year old teacher in Flagstaff when he began his vision for the Arizona Trail just a few decades ago. Or the people still at work to make the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin or the Buckeye Trail in Ohio a fully functioning foot path off of roads. Decades of work that won’t be done until after they live on this planet.

Trail Volunteers: The crews that patch up trails after floods. That help remove the fallen trees or poison ivy. That give them some TLC each offseason. Trails look good because trail volunteers maintain them for us.

It’s hard not to like what these people dedicated themselves to: THE GREATER GOOD!

Random Acts of Kindness

For all the inequity that still exists on the trail there is also a flip side. It’s overwhelmingly a very kind and giving community.

Trail towns that open up their doors to hikers, hikers who provide maps and insights to newbies on the trails, and people who are willing to stop and talk, support, and help you if you are in a tough situation.

I’ve given and received more random acts of kindness on the hiking trail than anywhere else in my life.
(Maybe the yoga community is a close second. And you need the yoga community if you hike! To learn how to breathe on inclines and to stretch properly afterwards! I like to be in both the hiking and yoga worlds.)

Trail magic we gave out came in the form of motivational gatorades for the hiking community!
Trail magic we give out sometimes comes in the form of motivational gatorades for the hiking community!

Fake Names and No Job Descriptions

My trail name is DH. DH stands for Designated Hitter because I typically day hike and get off trail into a van. I don’t have to set up a tent in the woods in the dark and dig a hole to go poo. I play offense. I hike. No defense.
Edgar Martinez would be proud! (Edgar is a former Seattle Mariners icon who won the Designated Hitter Award in Major League Baseball Five Different Times!)

My dog’s trail name is Volcano. My wife’s trail name is Hillside Jill.

I have met Cake, Deer Lick, El Guapo, Czech Mate, Cardinal, Pukes, Dough Boy, and many more in recent months on the trails. We have secret identities and alter egos. Our names and work in the “real world” are of no consequence or importance to other hikers.

Nor is “what do you do for a living?” That corny small talk line in the USA because we work so much we don’t know what else to lead with when meeting someone. Instead it’s “You going to Utah?” “You start in Mexico?” “Going to Maine?” “You flop in Cali from Canada?”

We still do talk about the weather though! But that’s because it’s of paramount importance and perhaps vital to our health and well-being. It’s refreshing, fun, and energizing to feel a little different on the hiking trail!

It’s a chance to see the hope of what the world could be, off the trail.

I think what it really comes down to is we hope the world could be more like this. Taking care of strangers, feeding the hungry, nurturing the sick, picking people up when they are down, and not caring where others are from, what they do, or what their lineage is.

I used to think it was a way to block things from reality. But I have shifted.

Now I feel it’s a way to learn and utilize life on the trail in the real world. I carry food in my car for the unhoused, I pause to talk to neighbors if they seem to have a need, I cheer people on at group workout classes when they do something HARD, and overall I focus less on money, materials, and issues outside of my control. Instead I focus on love, giving, and kindness.

I like to think that I did this before, and I did. But I do it more, without hesitation, and without any thought.

It’s a reason why thru hikers are prone to depression post hike. The world isn’t this kind, just, and loving as it is on the trail. But I hope we can learn to take the beautiful and evolving philosophies of trail life, off of the trail, and spread them around the world.

Hopefully now you see reasons why hikers love the hiking community so much. And why they just wanna get back on the trail!

Here’s a list of just a few groups that we work with, donate, advocate, and support that care about Mother Earth and the hiking trails being for everyone. Check that list out HERE!

Thanks for reading and supporting Happy People Hike, comment below with your trail name and something good that has happened on the trail that you saw!

Happy Hiking,
Mike R

Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

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