Sweating, tired, swishing a pebble around in your mouth to keep it moist, you stumble towards the water source. As you round the corner, you begin to hear noises. Not the noises of the vastness of the land that you have been hearing for the past 15 miles. It was only you and the vultures, the snakes, the wind, and the sand, what are these new noises that have a different texture to their melody. They almost feel like they have been placed upon the Earth instead of the Earth language itself that you have been listening and feeling for hours. Is it your dehydrated brain yelling at you to drink water? Possibly... Yet, it seems more so tangible more so "real."
As you begin to round the corner, shapes begin to take meaning in front of you. You begin to realize why the melody was so familiar and yet so unknown at the same time. Before you is a group of hikers! The siren call of the water source has attracted more of your animalistic brothers and sisters to the watering hole. Your brain begins to slip back out of the Earth tones and Earth language you had been listening to for hours, and soothingly and familiarly slips into your fellow mammal speech. What could have possibly brought others of your kind here? How would they be here in this instance? There was nothing besides dirt and sand around you endlessly it appeared, yet in an instance your world is filled with fellow animals (hikers)! This is because while every hiker being unique, extremely unique, Good God so uniquely weird... all tend to think in the same wave-lengths to a sense. It is quite an interesting phenomenon when you realize it, and honestly feels a little extra weird... so yea lets get into it!
More likely than not Hiker Think will bring you to food... and a cookout at some point...
The longer we have been hiking and the longer we have been doing many varieties of trails, there seems to be a reoccurring theme. Every single hiker we have ever met has been unique in their own way. Beautifully unique and beautifully weird, yes we are too, well at least weird and unique, we may not be beautiful. Conversations have different flavor, jokes have different punchlines, nationalities and cultures have different childhoods, every time you meet a new hiker, there is a new world you are learning, their world. Any time you meet a new person in fact, not just a hiker. Tone, dialect, opinions, preferences, outlooks, upbringing, everything is uniquely them. Yet, within this uniqueness, within all these thoughts being specific to each hiker, each person, we have found that there is a singular truth. A singular thought that appears to be the same. We call it Hiker Think.
Inside of all the difference and inside of all the uniqueness, hikers will tend to think the same regarding break spots, water sources, campsites, and towns. This is a massive generalization, we guarantee there are hikers that do not fall into this criteria, yet almost all we have met do. So, if you are one of the hikers that do not, beautiful, great, we are talking from our perspective and from what we have seen, and it is one hikers mind maybe making meaning behind coincidence, but we find it fun. So, Hiker Think, what does it mean when referring to what we have previously listed? Well, the best way we know how to describe is to show, so let us show you!
Okay, let us begin with break spots. Whether it is just you hiking, or it is you and your trail family, when you begin your day, you may all check the map together and set a break spot. Yet, just as common if you all have been out on trail before, you know usually the break spot finds you. It could be by a river, on a beautiful sitting rock, or at the top of a climb, but it seems more often than not the break spot has already been pre-defined, waiting for your smelly hiker burden to be laid down. As you continue to climb many unique thoughts may go through your mind that are specifically yours, uniquely and weirdly yours. Yet, there is a reoccurring thought that almost every hiker probably has on the same climb. That thought follows the lines of something like, "once I get to the top I will rest, once I get to the top there will be an epic viewpoint, once I get to the top....once I get to the top.....once I get to the top....." This means that if you are on a popular trail system, you may see no-one as you climb for miles, yet when you arrive on the top of the climb, you will be greeted by other smelly and weary hikers that had the same thought, and have rested their burdens overlooking a beautiful valley.
Top of the Mountain Breaks are the Best!
This also transitions into water sources. Again, you may not have seen anyone for miles, or even days besides you and your trail family. As you plan your day ahead you see that there is only one water source in 30+ miles, you are going to try and time it to arrive there at lunch, to coincide with your longest break of the day, and it gives you more time to "Camel-Up" (chugging water and carrying water in your belly like a weird hybrid camel). So, you all set your sites on this water source. Whistling, skipping, and yes stumbling your way down trail all you hear around you is the wild. Yet, as you begin to get closer to the water source, the animalistic sweet chatter of humans begin to flutter by your ears. How? There has been no-one for days, yet here are 3-4 other hikers acting like camels and chugging water. Well, if those hikers had always been ahead of you and your trail family by a few miles, you would never see them. That is until a water source dictated their miles and their lunch for the day. They probably slowed their pace that day to coincide arriving at lunch time, and you probably woke up earlier to do the same but in the form of increasing your pace. The physical acts of the day may be different, the thoughts to arrive at the water source incredibly weird, yet the universal result and Hiker Think goal were the same.
Campsites becomes another universal Hiker Think. If there is one last climb for the day, hikers want to reach the top. If there is one last ford for the day, hikers want to reach the other side before dark. If there is a cow pasture every hiker wants to sleep and cuddle amongst their friends. (Okay, that may be uniquely us). Hikers are going to shoot for a campsite that sets them up for an "easier" day the next day. If it is within their scope of miles and they can get over one more obstacle, it means one less obstacle the next day. This means if many hikers are within a few mile radius of each other, more likely than not you will find them all before or after this obstacle whatever it may be. Campsite selection does come from a hikers schedule, miles, weariness level, and amount of daylight left. Yet, just as many times it comes from the trail dictating the hiker to think a certain way. To shift all of our collective thought into, Hiker Think.
Sometimes the campsite is defined for you, yet is this not also Hiker Think?!?!
Towns and resupplies are one of the most obvious examples of Hiker Think. Even when arriving into town the journey there is an example. Many hikers will wake up earlier, whether that is 4 A.M., 5 A.M., 6 A.M., whatever it may be, they will set an alarm earlier than they usually rise on trail. This is so that they can utilize the most out of their Town Day. Rest the most, eat the most, laugh the most with fellow hikers. We have seen and heard many hikers in the dark pushing hard to get to town, for that town breakfast! Now that all the hikers are in town, they all have unique desires, unique thoughts, and unique chores that are very specific to themselves, so you will never see them, right?! No, Hiker Think again plays a huge role. You will see hikers at the same restaurant in town, at the same time because all of your brains screamed food at once. You will see hikers in the grocery store resupplying and eating chicken fingers while shopping, because, well again the collective hiker brain all screamed food! You will see hikers, hanging out in the sun, running around doing chores, going to the gear shops, because there is a universal necessity inside of each hiker's unique thought. The hiker is a majestic and magical creature that manifests itself in many different ways that seems to have learned how to collectively communicate with their unspoken dialect that has a tangible force. Hiker Think!
There should be the word "weird" somewhere in this quote, pick your placement of weird any it takes on many different meanings!
Hiker Think is a very powerful force. We have seen it over and over and over. It is part Deja Vu, part coincidence, part destiny, and part mystery. We have found hikers at a water source and chatted what their plans were for the rest of the day, and they were our trail families exact plans as well. Were you getting in to town for town breakfast, yes us too! We did a broad sweep to define this immensely prevalent event. It transitions into these bigger and more tangible moments, yet it is also in the minutiae, the singular, the moment inside of one footstep. The moment that you see a rock to sit upon, and see the stains and the gloss from many hikers having the same thought days, months, years before you. The more and more we try to put a tangible description and tangible feeling to the why behind Hiker Think the more we begin to see an inkling of an answer. How could so many people think so similarly yet so differently? Well, we believe part of it is the Trail itself. The Trail speaks to the hiker, the Trail defines the moments, and the Trail is the source of Hiker Think. So, are we having collective thoughts because we are all hikers, or are we all having collective thoughts because they have been "spoken" to us from one singular source? Honestly, we do not know, and even more honestly we do not care where it comes from. That question is better left to higher teared philosophical minds than our own. We are just extremely happy to hear it, be a part of it, and continue to be a weirdly unique hiker inside of Hiker Think!
With our uniquely weird brain missing cow pastures,