Hike Your Own Hike

This was a paper I wrote for my Effective Communications class at Grace College of Divinity.


Among the hiking community a popular phrase permeates the trail: Hike your own hike. Every hiker has a philosophy about how to prepare, pack, hike and camp. At the foundation of any packing philosophy is determining comfort at the hiking level or comfort at the camping level. The phrase Hike Your Own Hike has become prevalent on the trail due to arrogance of some or lawlessness of others. Hike Your Own Hike is an aphorism; hikers debate its application since it varies in its absolute definition. The hiking community struggles to define whether Hike Your Own Hike has a universal application beneficial to the community or if it is a personal declaration to enhance one’s own hike.

Although the origin of the statement is unknown, and there are no documents to trace it back to, the statement has taken on a life of its own within the hiking community. It is stated in various ways such as live your own life, mind your own business, control your own destiny, but its universal meaning is, “Travel your own journey. Let others travel theirs.”[1] In other words, each person has an idea of the way life should be lived.

The causative behaviors that have sparked this ideology are numerous; choices in gear, clothing, food, and entertainment along with moral structures, and personality traits. Hikers have varying philosophies for comfort and entertainment. Therefore, debate wages over whether habits should be personal or communal. This means trail habits have come into questions such as how loud radios should be, how far should one go when partying, is it considered graffiti or art in trail shelters or is proper sanitation acceptable along the trail or in designated areas.

Renee “She-Ra” Patrick is an avid hiker who has completed The Triple Crown; the AT, PCT and the CDT, and she addresses the Hike Your Own Hike philosophy in her article by admitting that there are many different hiking styles on the long trails. She states, “Hike Your Own Hike is about tolerance. It’s about recognizing our differences and being ok with that.”[2] Tolerating the differences of one another allows hikers to appreciate the diversity on the trail. It is what makes the trail beautiful; that it attracst people from all walks of life.

With the numbers of hikers getting larger each year, decisions have greater potential to affect other hikers, especially those in close proximity. The ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) reports the number of hikers have grown exponentially over the years. The reports show that from 2007-2013 the number of hikers jumped from 526 to 875 hiking the whole trail. Although hiking may be an individual sport, there lies a multilayered leisure subculture or community where membership, identity, and status are shaped by intersections of class, race and gender. In other words, as the number of hikers grows, the potential grows for diversity to leak into the hiking community. The trail is no longer attracting only outdoorsy, nature loving people. People are coming to the trail for solitude, sport, and achievement.

The answer to finding middle ground with the Hike Your Own Hike premise is one of morality. Kenny Howell says in his article When Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) Does NOT Apply,

“Hike your own hike also contains a moral framework to keep the more self-centered core principle in place. This framework represents a basic standard for hiker etiquette. In layman’s, it means that every hiker is entitled to hike their own hike up and to the point that it begins to negatively impact the experience of another hiker.”[3]

People choose to take to the trail for reasons that can be pseudo selfish: therapy, health, entertainment or sport. Howell explains that hiking can be a great experience until one’s experience becomes disruptive to another person.

There are two potential reasons Hike Your Own Hike is misleading is: first it gives license to those who want to enjoy their hike in any way they feel. There are no rules. Second, it suggests individual hikers to hike their own specific way free from peer-pressure from others. A hiker should feel comfortable to use the gear they want, walk as far as they want, and be critiqued less than others.

However, both of these should be filtered through the lens of community. When an individual steps foot on the trail, he/she immediately becomes part of a community of hikers and every decision made will affect others in some way. To be a part of community of any kind means there will always be limits on individual freedoms; you are free to do as you like until your freedom begins to affect the freedom of others. We all have to live together in perpetual compromise. Gutmann and Thompson write in their article Valuing Compromise for the Common Good, “To begin to make compromise more feasible and the common good more attainable, we need to appreciate the distinctive value of compromise.”[4] In other words, sacrifices will have to be made by each individual for the common good of the community. Without sacrifice, there will always be disagreements and the possibility of unpleasant experiences on the trail.



[1] “Hike Your Own Hike [Archive] – WhiteBlaze – Appalachian Trail.” WhiteBlaze – Appalachian Trail – Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail News, Appalachian Trail News Announcements and Articles. Accessed October 24, 2015.

[2] Patrick, Renee. “Hike Your Own Hike.” She-ra Hikes. Last modified February 18, 2015.

[3] Howell, Kenny. “When Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) Does NOT Apply [Part 1].” Appalachian Trials. Last modified January 2, 2015.

[4] Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis F. Thompson. “Valuing Compromise for the Common Good.” Daedalus 142.2 (Spring 2013): 185-198.



 Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis F. Thompson. “Valuing Compromise for the Common Good.” Daedalus 142.2 (Spring 2013): 185-198, http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10591657.

“Hike Your Own Hike [Archive] – WhiteBlaze – Appalachian Trail.” WhiteBlaze – Appalachian Trail – Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail News, Appalachian Trail News Announcements and Articles. Accessed October 24, 2015. http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-40445.html.

Howell, Kenny. “When Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) Does NOT Apply [Part 1].” Appalachian Trials. Last modified January 2, 2015. http://appalachiantrials.com/hyoh-does-not-apply/.

Patrick, Renee. “Hike Your Own Hike.” She-ra Hikes. Last modified February 18, 2015. https://sherahikes.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/hike-your-own-hike/.


My Favorite YouTube Hikers

I’m a YouTube fanatic. I’m such a fanatic that I have to add the “atic” to the word fan because it has been crucial in me succeeding at many things in my life. I’ve fixed cars, refrigerators, microwaves, plumbing, electrical sockets, lawn mowers, and learned the hobbies of hiking, backpacking, guitar, banjo, and fiddle playing and pipe smoking. YouTube has been fantastic to me and I’m very thankful for those who have been courageous enough to share their abilities and thoughts via the internet so that others may gain free advice.

With that being said, this is a backpacking blog and I am writing this to share a couple of valuable resources to me about backpacking. Without these two YouTubers, I would be practically lost and less entertained. There are some pretty monotonous and lifeless YouTubers who have taken to video to teach a craft only by sharing a barely experienced knowledge. Then others hardly know how to keep your attention. These two do not fall in either category.

The two that I would like to highlight are far from novice and boring. These guys bring an element of entertainment, knowledge, inspiration, compassion and excitement that’s worth giving time to. I have soaked up hours of watching their videos to learn all things backpacking and hammocking. I am forever indebted to them however I’m pretty sure they don’t even know I exist. They have such a cult following, I’m just another anonymous disciple lurking around in their corner of the web.

So enough babble. Let me introduce you to these guys.



From his website: 

When my friend invited me on a backpacking trip for the first time back in 2011, I decided to document my foray into the world of backpacking and hiking on YouTube. Little did I know, backpacking and video production would become an obsession, and along with it, a group of supportive subscribers would encourage me to continue the journey.

My primary interest is all things backpacking, with an emphasis on great views, unique terrain and challenging mileage. Lately, I’ve begun to work on developing an ultralight backpacking system and weight conscious mentality. My main stomping grounds are along the east coast, mainly up and down the Appalachian mountain chain, from Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, through the Shenandoahs, Pennsylvania, New York’s Catskills, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and my personal favorite, the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Syntax77 gives reviews of all things backpacking; meals, gear, trails. When he hikes a trail, he takes loads of gear to video and he also reviews the trip on his website. Along with the video and review, he gives map data that highlights camping areas, interest areas and water areas. He adds a plethora of information and it’s good honest (non-biased) information.

Sintax77 is very entertaining. Along with his occasional cohort Mike (A.K.A. slippakilla) will leave you entertained, as well as informed of great hiking trail, beautiful views, and hammock camping. I am addicted to his videos but I must caution you, they can be long. Upwards to an hour or better. But they are well worth it. Turn the TV off, that is unless you can watch YouTube on it and turn on some Sintax77. His documentaries get better and better with each trip. Great stuff.

Now if I could just find out his real name!

Sintax77 on Youtube

Sintax77 on the web

Sintax77 on Twitter

Sintax77 on Facebook




From Shug’s website:

Sean is also know as “Shug:….his You Tube alter ego. The videos embody his love for getting out into the piney woods backpacking either solo or with friends. His chosen way is to sleep in a hammock under a tarp.

Sean/Shug won the Backpacker Magazine Tough Guy Challenge in 2011and won terrific prizes and pride in beating out many younger fellers. This backpacking passion is the antithesis to being on stage in front of an audience and allows his soul to get a bit of a respite and allows the internal batteries to get re-charged. OK….that sounded good but really I just want to get away and act like an 11 year old))))))

Shug is simply… HILARIOUS! He’s an entertainer. No really. That’s his day job. Professionally trained with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Shug is one of the most in-demand entertainers for fairs, festivals, and corporate events around the country. When he’s not performing, Sean teaches circus arts at the University of Minnesota and also offers a workshop — Introduction to Antic Arts — to schools, libraries, and community events. So he’s got some serious funny and he knows how to bring it too.

If it wasn’t for Shug, I’d still be sleeping on the ground in a tent waking up every morning with severe back pain. I watched ever tutorial and trip video of his to gain an appreciation for all things hammock. Everything I have learned about camping in a hammock I have learned from this guy.

This guy can flip personalities with the drop of a hat. One minute he’s being himself, then the camera cuts and he’s doing his impression of Carl from Slingblade, then he becomes Irish, Scottish, redneck. I mean you name it and he’ll do an impression as he’s giving you a tutorial about whoopie slings. Whoo Buddy!!!!

I dare you to watch one video and I promise you will be hooked and want to watch EVERY video and begging him to make more. He’ll keep you in stitches all the while giving you great wisdom in gear and trails. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to all things hiking, backpacking and hanging in a hammock. Subscribe today!

Shug on YouTube

Shug on Google+

Shug on the web

To Sintaxx77 and Shug: I thankee. I am very much forever indebted to your wisdom and entertainment!



Hikers For The Homeless T-Shirt Contest

www.facebook.com/HikersForTheHomeless (Go like their page)

http://instagram.com/kevinriner (Come, follow me)

These are are the ones who voted for me and every time I wear this shirt, I will proudly think of you!

  1. Torrie W.
  2. Meredith B.
  3. Karis Kranker
  4. Peggy H.
  5. Amiey B.
  6. Carrie R.
  7. Carlo S.
  8. Rylee. C
  9. Shelly W.
  10. Kevin P.
  11. Sarah F.
  12. Chrystal P.
  13. Thomas M.
  14. John R.
  15. Don B.
  16. Gabe R.
  17. Scott P.
  18. Nicole R.
  19. Michelle J.
  20. Ronnie B.
  21. Stacey B.
  22. Chris B.
  23. Melissa M.
  24. Erica C.
  25. Hikers For the Homeless
  26. Me



Neva Warren to become the youngest solo thru-hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail.

Neva Warren plans to complete 12 Herculean tasks in her lifetime. And at age 15, she is already on to her second epic challenge: to become the youngest solo thru-hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail. Starting at the trail’s southern end in Georgia on April 1, Neva followed the white-blazed … (Read more here)
Check her blog out here. http://www.ridethenation.org/

Someday and Hillbilly Bart Thru-Hike the Great Eastern Trail First


“Meet Joanna Swanson and Bart Houck, or Someday and Hillbilly Bart if you encounter them on the trail. They are the first thru-hikers of the roughly 1,600-mile long Great Eastern Trail, which connects a series of preexisting trails and stretches from Flag Mountain, Ala. to the Finger Lakes of New York. With a lesser overall gain in elevation and a shorter length than the Appalachian Trail, the Great Eastern Trail rivals its Appalachian counterpart with a different set of challenges which, for Swanson and Houck, began even before they set foot on Alabama soil.” – 

I would encourage you to go read this great article. I can’t wait to see if they write a book. I really want to read their account of being the first to thru-hike the Great Eastern Trail.


New Information on Chris McCandless’ death

Upon doing some research I ran across the book Into The Wild. I had seen the movie before so I bought the book to read it too. I learned some interesting things. Now I found this article that brings new light to how McCandless died. Check it out.


As with Aron Ralston, the story of Chris McCandless has sharply divided observers, between those who see him as a hero for eschewing a materialistic, traditional western life and those who think he was an idiot who got in over his head and then paid the ultimate price in the Alaskan bush. There’s also been disagreement over precisely what caused McCandless’s death, but new evidence assembled by curious writer and then chronicled by Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer points a likely final verdict: poisoning from a toxin unknown to be in the wild potato seeds he consumed, which led to McCandless’s weakening, paralysis, and starvation…