As my friend Paige and I were catching up at happy hour this week, I found myself explaining “Hike Your Own Hike,” and we both thought it applies pretty well to almost every aspect of life. As freelance graphic designers, both of us often wonder how our work compares to others, are we charging enough, are we meeting other’s expectations?? Instead we decided to stop comparing ourselves to others and just Hike Our Own Hike…Live Your Own Life. It’s brilliant!
The obvious connotation refers to the different hiking styles you will see on the long trails. I like to think the phrase originated on the Appalachian Trail where there is trail 100% of the way, and when hikers deviate from following the white blazes that mark the way they are often labeled “Not True to the Thru.” And then you can counter with Hike Your Own Hike.
There can be a lot of judgement in long distance backpacking. It ranges from what gear you carry, if you hike every mile of the trail, and what food you consume to how dirty you let yourself get. Come on people. There is no one way. Just because someone carries a certain pack or eats mostly Ramen noodles doesn’t mean their way is any less valid than another.
I like to remember Grandma Gatewood, the first female to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at age 67. She wore Keds shoes and carried a home-made duffle bag instead of a backpack. Did she finish the trail? Yep. Did she thru-hike it again in 1960 and 1963? Yep. Is your ultralight pack more comfortable than her duffle bag? Probably, but it doesn’t make her hike any less of a hike than yours.
Hike Your Own Hike is about tolerance. It’s about recognizing our differences and being ok with that.
I’m not sure that I’ll post my pack list before I go, or even weigh my base weight. It doesn’t really matter. I’m carrying stuff that makes me comfortable in the backcountry, and if that’s a base weight of 5 pounds or 25 pounds, that’s my choice to make.
And the CDT is quite liberating too. There is no one trail, in fact, there are often at least 3 trails you can choose from. Every map set available has alternates, and sometimes those alternates are the same, and sometimes not. There is no True to the Thru on the CDT, and that’s exactly what I’m looking forward to. Everyone hikes a different CDT. It’s yours. Make it what you will!