Written by Chris "Wolverine" Hillier.

I don't care for the towns. I don't care if it's Detroit, Berlin or San Juan and I've been to them all. The people in towns stink like soap and they foolishly compete against each other to get money to buy stuff they don't need. I'll go to the towns if necessary to get resupply and do my hiker chores. Otherwise, I'm happy being on the trail.

The paragraph above is how you start to think once you've been 'ruined'. I didn't use to think like that. I used to have a normal life. I had a career and a nice house. I wondered what kind of person could take 6 months out of their busy schedule to hike a stupid trail. Then my mom passed away and it rocked my world. I needed to get away. I needed to reset my brain and start over so I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Two weeks into that hike, it occurred to me: This is how I want to spend the rest of my life. From that point on, I was ruined.

I consider it an affliction. I'm stricken with wanderlust. I got the gypsy blood, the itchy feet... Whatever you want to call it. It manifests itself as a distinct change in attitude. You stop caring what other people think. You begin to judge others based solely on how many miles they've hiked. You long for the trail – it doesn't even matter what trail it is, as long as you're out of doors with a pack on your back and you're moving forward. This disease should be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. We should get special parking. If only we owned cars.

To anyone considering hiking a long trail I would say this: Beware. You could be 'ruined'. You'll quit your job and give up all your possessions just for the chance to live the sweet sweet life of the long distance hiker. You'll be shocked when you finally notice how often those around you waste food and water. You'll see how most Americans are addicted to their automobiles. You'll feel out of place in normal society and you'll wonder why everyone else doesn't feel the same way you do.

Then again, you might not. Thousands of people hike the AT or the PCT and they aren't 'ruined'. They complete the hike and go back to a normal life but if you're one of those who's hiking gene has been lying dormant deep in your DNA since birth, you might activate it by going on a long distance hike.


Chris "Wolverine" Hillier lives below the poverty line and way off the grid.

Wolverine will soon be attempting to be the first person to thru-hike a yet-to-be-named trail from Belle Isle, Detroit across the Upper Peninsula and to the Wisconsin border. After that, he plans to hike at least another 1,000 miles. Take a look at or find him on Facebook as Hiker Resupply.