You’ve just hiked 2,650 miles—congratulations! For your efforts, you receive a lifetime’s worth of high fives, a treasure trove of memories, and a free set of kinda screwed up feet complete with a residual numbness in your toes that will last until the holidays!
If the weather report reads crystal clear, go ahead and roll out your sleeping pad, fluff up your sleeping bag, and prepare to spend the night with nothing above your head other than the sparkling night sky. Just make sure you conveniently forget about scorpions. And tarantulas. And mountain lions. And definitely don’t remember that I told you that I know a guy who once woke up with a snoozing rattlesnake snuggled up against his warm abdomen.
This affliction sometimes hits day hikers, but becomes a near-obsession for backpackers, especially as the miles stretch on and the food bag grows lighter. I once spent thirty torturous minutes descending knee-busting switchbacks while debating the merits of various potato products with a fellow hiker. In case you’re wondering, tater tots were the clear winner. And no, I couldn’t find any at my next resupply stop. And yes, I might have teared up a little bit upon realizing that. See also: Hiker Hunger
There’s lightweight, there’s ultralight, and then there’s gram weenie territory. Those who fall under this category will do anything to achieve pack weight nirvana—they’re the types who create a spreadsheet detailing the weight of each item in their pack down to a tenth of gram, slice away nearly every cord and strap on their backpack until it’s practically naked, and aggressively file down their toothbrush until it looks kind of like a prison shiv.
Sure, you’re probably a bit peckish after a day hike, but you don’t know the true depths of hunger until you’re a few weeks into a long-distance trek. There is no single food item, no one meal, no all-you-can-eat buffet that can satisfy the ravenous pangs of a thru-hiker’s calorie-deprived stomach. True story: I know hikers who got off trail, rented a car, drove to Vegas, spent several hours feasting at a casino all-you-can-eat buffet, only to get kicked out before they felt even mildly full.