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Thru-hiking: a way to get outside and see the best in folks

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Mohamed Abdullatif
/
Unsplash

 

Some people enjoy hiking, others even enjoy backpacking trips, but a smaller subset of outdoor enthusiasts take the sport to a whole other level by combining the two into what is called Thru-hiking.

Thru-hiking is an extended backpacking trip spanning the length of a long-distance trail. It’s a mental and physical challenge. Bennett Fisher got into thru hiking after a conversation teasing his dad, he recalled, “We were at the beach and I was watching people surf and their parents were teaching them how to surf. And I looked at my dad and was like, why aren't you cool like that? It was kind of a dig but it was said in humor. I wasn't serious but he was like oh well if you think you want me to be cool, then let's go hike the Appalachian Trail next summer.”

Looking back, he says his dad probably meant it as a joke, but Bennett called his bluff, and they embarked on a 2,190 mile journey the following summer. Bennett says they didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. Their first days consisted of being pelted by heavy rain on a steep rocky trail. Bennett asked his dad why they had decided to do this, and he replied saying when you become a parent, your dreams are put on the backburner, “Your new dreams are your kids dreams and so he was like, you know, my dreams were getting y'all to go to college and helping you pursue football or track. And so those were his dreams, then but his dream this whole time was to thru hike.”

So despite the challenges, they pushed on and Bennett and his dad completed the Appalachian Trail. In the U.S. the main thru-hiking trails are the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails. After completing the AT Bennett had the bug, and has aimed to complete the triple crown, hiking all three;

 

“I've done the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. I did half of it and then broke my ankle, hiked 300 miles on the broken ankle because I thought it was fine. But I ended up coming off because the pain became too much and I just wasn't having fun. And then in 2018 I did Pacific Crest Trail again, starting from the beginning and going all the way to the finish. And then 2021, this past summer. I did half of the Continental Divide trail then got an injury”

 

He hurt his foot and couldn’t continue on the hike, but plans to come back and finish out that trail next season. While he loves the physical challenge of pushing your body to hike upwards of 50 miles a day, Bennett says it’s the community that makes this sport so special, “My dad would always say, if you lose faith in humanity, go on a thru hike, because people are just so nice. And so giving. And I think, you know, shared struggle really bonds everyone together," said Bennett

To see some amazing photos and learn more about Bennett's adventures check him out on instagram @bennettfisher or www.jollygearapparel.com

 

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!