Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hiking and Trail Running

I just joined the not-for-profit American Hiking Society. I saw them mentioned in the most recent Trail Runner magazine (in an article about volunteering). For $30/year, you receive a subscription to American Hiker & also Backpacker magazine. They seem to support lots of trail access and maintenance causes in the US. If hikers can help keep a trail going...then I can run the darn thing too! Sounds like a good enough reason to join. I have this nagging feeling that hikers might do a better job of giving back to their sport than trail runners do. We always seem a bit too fast paced to pay attention to trash, erosion, fallen trees, over-grown bushes, trail markings, etc. When people walk or hike, they seem to "take in the scenery" more than us runners. And they don't mind stopping to pick up trash or move a fallen log. Us runners should do the same. So joining AHS alleviates a bit of guilt on my part.

I also figure that trail ultrarunning (especially at long distances like 100 miles) is kinda like hiking. I'm walking all the hills, chatting with fellow runners and volunteers at aid stations, and slow jogging much of the flat sections of the trail anyway. I'm not that far from "hiking" the darn thing! Lots of good ultramarathoners even use hiking poles in their "running." And as we all get older, we slow down and look more and more like hikers anyway. Why not join 'em right now? The new magazines will likely inspire me to hike and camp more. The slower paced hikes should be good for my cross-training. And I've always been intrigued by fastpacking too (another recent article in Trail Runner). Getting to know more about hiking should allow me to better prepare for any future fastpacking I might do. Appalachian Trail? Pacific Coast Trail? John Muir? Rim to Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon? Hmmmm....

Another benefit of membership is the ability to participate in "volunteer vacations" where you help maintain a trail. I've always wanted to do one of these (save the animals, ocean, planet, whatever), but many of them cost a lot of money and involve some serious travel. A lot of the AHS trips are well within driving distance and don't cost too much (often around $250). Maybe Jeff will join me at Mammoth Cave National Park in KY this fall for one of these work vacations!

PS: June 7, 2008 is "National Trails Day." Why not organize a group of runners to clean-up your local trail?


Bobbi. said...

Hi there Chris!
I work for the American Hiking Society and wanted to say thanks for joining and for spreading the word on your blog! We welcome trail runners as members and appreciate your support of our mission.
In thanks, we'd like to send you a T-shirt! (not much, but hey, we're a non-profit). Send me your size at
Happy trail running!

Chris Ⓥ said...

Thanks Bobbi. I'll send you an e-mail with my address and size. You sure found my blog posting quickly!

Tom Rice said...

Moon Dood,
I've subscribed to Backpacker for many years. Great magazine. I should join the American Hiking Society and receive their publication also. I am a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a fantastic organization. We should give as much support as possible to these organizations. They promote and maintain hiking trails and work very hard doing it.

Chris Ⓥ said...

Tom--you should definitely join AHS. Jeff and I are you can join us on a volunteer vacation working on the trails! The ATC group sounds good too. I think there are plenty of missed opportunities for us trail runners to connect with hikers, walkers, mt bikers, and other trail users to join forces and improve the wild places we all enjoy.

Tom Rice said...

I will be joining AHS soon. A vacation of trail maintenance suits me.