restricted access “To Conquer Myself”: The New Strenuosity and the Emergence of “Thru-hiking” on the Appalachian Trail in the 1970s
Abstract

In the early 1970s hundreds of hikers began to traverse all 2,000-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail in a single effort. Spanning from Maine to Georgia, today over 14,000 have trekked across the entirety of the famed “wilderness footpath.” A particular mentality, characterized by perceptions of asocial self-discovery gained though physical activity and “wilderness” recreation led to the initial 1970s “thru-hiker” surge. This sense of autonomous self-discovery, however, was connected to a certain social and cultural context. Indeed, it could be argued that thru-hikers embraced a certain brand of individualism that should be read as a manifestation of a privileged social position as much as the achievement of personal authenticity.


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