• Angels and echoes: an analysis of human connection and altruism on the trail

      Lee, Mary (2019-05)
      An aspect of long-distance hiking culture which ties hikers deeply to the hiking community is "trail magic” and “trail angels.” These “angels” are everyday civilians, often former or current hikers, who provide random acts of kindness for those on the trail. In recent years, with the emerging platform of online video diaries and blogs, the inner-realities of long-distance hiking culture, and the altruism hikers experience are becoming more accessible. In March of 2019, a Google search for “thru-hiking vlogs” yields more than 300,000 results. Using Turner’s theory of communitas, and Gordon’s theory of ghostliness, I argue that community building and generosity are integral to thru-hiking culture, and form the backbone of social and emotional life on the trail.