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Hiking with Friends

Hiking the Southern Presidentials
Hiking above treeline in the Southern Presidential Range

I’ve gone on a lot of group hikes this year and made a lot of new friends. While I’ve always done some group hiking, I’m never spent such a large percentage of my time hiking with others during the course of a year.

While there are many different reasons for the change, the most influential is my involvement with the Appalachian Mountain Club as a hiking and backpacking trip leader and course instructor. I got much more active as a volunteer this year and developed some close friendships with other leaders I enjoy hiking and teaching with. I also found that hiking with friends eased the pain of my father’s passing this spring, for which I am very grateful.

100 Mile Wilderness Hike

Looking ahead, I’ve got a long backpacking trip on the near horizon with my friend and confidante Martin Rye from England, author of the Summit and Valley blog. We got to be friends when I was planning my hike across Scotland in 2010 during the TGO Challenge. (We plan to hike in the 2013 TGO Challenge together, along with Grant Sible from Gossamer Gear. )

Martin will coming to the US in August and we’ll be section hiking the New Hampshire and Maine Appalachian Trail, including the 100 mile Wilderness and Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Martin got interested in hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness after he read about it on SectionHiker and I’m excited to hike it end-to-end with him.

Section hiking with Martin should also prove interesting because we’ll be out for over 2 weeks together. I usually get quite lonely after hiking alone for 2 weeks so it will be interesting to compare the experience of section hiking with someone else for a change. That seems to be one of the biggest benefits of thru-hiking a trail like the AT, because you’re never really alone.

How do you like hiking with other people?


  1. I have enjoyed the relatively small amount of hiking that I’ve done with other people, Phillip. In recent years, though, almost all of my hiking has been alone. I walk five miles to school each day during the school year (I’m a teacher); I walk it alone, in the pre-dawn dark. During most of my (many!) holiday weeks, I walk a twenty-five miler in one day, rather than the daily five miler. But, I walk these alone, too.

    Next summer, I hope to walk from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Atkins, Virginia, on the Appalachian Trail, a distance of 538 miles. I’ve blocked out six weeks for the hike, and I hope to get at least one of my boys or my friends to walk at least part of it with me. My oldest boy and a friend of his did a week of dayhiking with me in Colorado last summer. He suggested we do the AT next summer, so I hope he’ll be able to make it. But, I’ll do it by myself if no one else can join me.

    I did Philmont about ten years ago, and another Boy Scout trek in the Pecos Wilderness the next summer. So, I’ve seen the drill on long distance backpacking. And, it looks like there’s *plenty* of resource to support a lone hiker on the AT. I’m sure I won’t have any trouble if I do end up walking alone next summer. But, I think company would be nice.

    And, speaking of company, Phillip, I’ve very much enjoyed your blog. I particularly enjoy having your posts show up on my Facebook newsfeed. Your blog is making a difference in the quality of my life.

    Condolences on your loss, Phillip. I miss my Dad, too.

  2. Thanks John, that’s nice of you to say. I admire your daily walking habit – that’s fantastic. I try to get out for a few miles everyday myself for exercise and to (not) think. Keep us posted on your summer hike next year – few people I know would want to hike with me on such a long trip – which is why I often go alone – hope your boy can make it. That would be a great experience for you both.

    • Yeah, I’ve been really fortunate in being able to work my walk into my daily commute. I gotta get to work anyway. Some of those February pre-dawns, it can be tempting just to drive in instead. But, the temptation always dissipates entirely by the time I get to the top of the driveway; I just *love* walking. By the time I get to school each morning, my head is clear, my problems are solved, I’m ready for the kids and the day. The walk is not only my commute and my exercise, it’s my daily meditation, too!

      Thanks again for your blog, Phillip. :-)

  3. I enjoy hiking period, with someone or without. However, like all good things, it’s more fun if I can share it with someone. I introduced my grandson to hiking at two and backpacking at four and he just loves it. Being on the trail with and teaching him about what we observe is so enjoyable, not to mention the wonder of seeing the outdoors through the eyes of a child. He’s eight now and his six year old sister has gotten her first backpacking trip under her boots and had a blast. Their fourteen year old half brother joined us on a trip as well. He has a little more mixed feelings about backpacking since the weather turned so nasty on that trip but he’ll join us on more.

  4. I like hiking alone sometimes but going in a group is great fun. I love to hear other people’s adventure and life stories. I also learn a lot by hiking with other people; there’s always something I don’t know that someone else is willing to tell me.

  5. I’m mostly a solo hiker. I pick my own route, hike at my own pace, and enjoy the solitude.

    • I do that too – mainly because it’s so easy to organize – but I often enjoy company too. It’s a very different experience, but I’ve come to enjoy it as well.

  6. I love hiking with other people, which these days is mostly my family. There is nothing better in my mind than sharing an incredible view or experience with someone you love.

  7. All my section hikes on the AT in the past two years have been with other people. This summer in particular I’ve been hiking with people that maybe arent as expereinced and dont really keep my pace. My grandfather and I just got back from a 3 day New Jersey section. We Saw Bears! While that experience was great, It made me realize how much I love the challenge and rush of keeping a really fast pace, and pounding out mileage. I will be doing another section In VT on AT/LT in August from north adams mass to manchester center with a far more comprable hiker to my self (probably faster). While that will be a great and challenging experience I am still curious to see how I might fair alone for a few days.

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