Hike My Hike – Damn It! (HMHDI)

Hike My Hike, Damn it! The one true, correct and absolute way to hike. My way.

Hike My Hike, Damn it! The one true, correct and absolute way to hike. My way.

If you have been around hiking circles long enough, you know of the phrase “Hike Your Own Hike“.

The idea that as long as your hike does have an effect on other people, it’s all kosher.

Well, if you have been around hiker circles long enough, you also know we can be a contentious bunch, too!
So, I a summed up the real philosophy of hiking:

The one, true, correct and absolute way to hike,

Why? Because all other ways are wrong.

Revised 2011 edition..boo ya!



by Paul “Mags” Magnanti

A very opinionated guide to the one, true, correct and absolute way to backpack on long distance hiking trails.


Hike Your Own Hike.

If you spend any amount of time in the long distance hiking community, you have heard this phrase.

What does HYOH mean?

Loosely defined, it means enjoy your journey and let others enjoy theirs. As long as your journey does not impose upon anyone else, it does not matter how fast or slow you go, or what gear you take or even what route you decide upon.  HYOH means to best enjoy the journey based upon your own personal safety, comfort and fun levels.

However, if you spend any amount of time in the hiking community (often on-line, sometimes on trails) you know that HYOH is patently false.

There are discussions about what is the one, true, correct and absolute way to hike.  Obviously, people don’t mean HYOH, they really mean HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

What  does HMHDI entail? If you have to ask, you are obviously a pack snifferand have no clue.

And that’s the point of this tract.  I’ll show the one, true, correct and absolute way to hike. My way.

HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!  After reading this little tract, you will know the one, true, correct and absolute way to hike.

Happy Trails!

Paul “Mags” Magnanti

Paul “Mags” Magnanti has been making hiker trash look trashy since 1996. His outdoor experiences include packing in five liter boxes of wine for trips,ascending the summit of Jerimoth Hill and walking the length of the Pearl St Mall (Boulder, CO) in a day. (self supported, coffee in hand).  Mags has also given lectures on such important topics as Medium Rare or Rare – how best to grill a steak, Beer: Need I say more? and Duct Tape: How to use for Sartorial Splendor   When not giving advice on topics he knows little about, he lives in Boulder, CO with his The Former Wife’ who loves his cooking but not what his cooking does to her clean kitchen, tolerates his obession over Oskar Blue’s Silo Burger and insists that a backcountry shelter should have a floor, a roof and a door thank-you-very-much.  She’s marrying him anyway.



Based upon hours of research, I have determined that what gear you bring is the most important part of wilderness journeys.

Why do I say that? Because there have been threads upon threads upon which is the correct knife to bring (the bigger, the better), many scintillating conversations at Appalachian Trail shelters on titanium widgets and the many hours spent of people detailing the gear they have used on the hike (and what gear you should take), but never on what they saw on the hike. And many debates to go with all the gear.

Obviously gear must be the most important part of the hike.

First, let’s discuss lightweight hiking versus traditional hiking.

There is a simple metric to use. Simply put, your base pack weight must be 20 lbs. No more. No less.

If your pack weights more than 20 lbs, you are obviously not hiking efficiently and are a pack sniffer. You need to lighten your load!

Preferably with many of the items for sale at the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and are advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine. It does not matter if you prefer camping to hiking and like some creature comforts. Unless you lighten your load, you are forever destined to be a pack sniffer and obviously know nothing about backpacking. Go fast! Go light! Go buy expensive lightweight gear!

If your pack weight is less than 20 lbs, you are obviously a gram counting weenie (even if we are using the British Imperial and not the metric system!). You obviously care too much about going lightweight and simply making hiking easier. You need to also buy  some items for sale at the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and are advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine.

You can not be extreme if you pack is not heavy enough.  Go slow! Go camp! Buy a titanium espresso maker!

Remember, to HMHDI, you need to pack 20  lbs, no more..no less.


Again, based on the hours of research I have concluded that it is Very  important to pack in the correct type of knife. When backpacking on the long trails (when you have a sleeping bag, tent, food, stove and other equipment), you never know when it may be important to fight a bear, do a low crawl and apprehend very suspicious looking people or even build an emergency shelter. This is esp. important when you are on the Appalachian Trail and can be as much as five miles from a road crossing!

Shelter you can build with the correct knife

Suspicious looking character you may have to take on with the proper knife.

He probably has the wrong knife based on the photo.



What is the proper knife? A knife merely large enough to open up packaging and slice  an occasional slice of cheese or summer sausage is obviously not large enough to properly take on a bear.

If a hiker is HMHDI, the hiker will obviously take the appropriate knife to slay wild  boars, build a shelter and apprehend suspicious looking characters.

Rambo KnifeCorrect knife for HMHDI. It will open Liptons


What pack sniffers who never hike take. Have you tried spear fishing with this less than a  one ounce knife ??!?!






Apparently, what stove you bring is almost as important as what knife you bring. On the trail, you must boil water. If you don’t bring the correct stove, you will not boil water the correct way!  If you do not bring the correct stove, you will obviously not enjoy the wonders of nature, the vistas and the camaraderie of your fellow hikers.


You will lose paradise if you take the wrong stove!!!! HMHDI!

If you take the right stove, you will see a scene just like this one!  Remember, HMHDI to really enjoy the trails.


Hiking Poles


Most hikers take the wrong assumption that hiking poles are a personal preference. That one hiking pole, two or even none depends upon the hiker, the terrain or just simply personal preference in a given situation.

Real hikers know better. They HMHDI.  I have vague, unproven and very anecdotal evidence that my view on hiking poles is correct and that others views are  wrong.  Be a real hiker. Do what I say when it comes to poles. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

Other Gear

I could spend hours upon hours of the correct gear to take for the HMHDI truth. Luckily, there are many fine places to get the proper gear to properly HMHDI.  If you don’t want to look like a pack sniffer, simply go to the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and only get items advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine.  Or just ask any hiker on-line. They’ll tell you the right gear to take!


Correct clothing for HMHDI!

Obvious pack sniffer who did not get the correct clothing and gear. Don’t let this happen to you!


Hiking Pace and Miles Per Day Hiked

Due to my usual thorough research, I have determined that a person subscribing to HMHDI hikes no more than 15 miles a day.

If you hike more than that distance, you are obviously not stopping to smell the roses.

A hiker truly HMHDI  is also in camp no later than five PM.  If you are in dark, mouse infested, three sided lean-to  with no view by this time, then you are truly stopping to smell the roses. A hiker HMHDI should also be on the trail no earlier than 9am.  Why? Because if you are on the trail early and enjoying the morning light, you are obviously trying to make miles and not truly enjoying the trail experience. What? You enjoy walking all day? That’ silly talk! You are not supposed to be hiking on long distance hiking trails. A real hiker who is HMHDI recognizes this truism and will camp more than hike.

Conversely, if the hiker does not hike at the fifteen miles per day, then they are obviously not an efficient hiker and is merely a pack sniffer. Can a hiker really enjoy hiking by sitting at overlooks, swimming in lakes and taking naps?

Don’t be a pack sniffer. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

On a related note is the controversy over speed hiking and setting records. Sorry. Van supported  speed “hikes” of any trail do not count.  Speed hikes in general do not count. Supported or not.  (Please see my chapter below on OTHER ACTIVITIES).

Why? For several reasons.

How can a person truly enjoy HMHDI if they are not carrying 20 lbs (no more and no less)? How can the overlooks be enjoyed if they are not camped out every night?

If the person is hiking more than 15 miles  then the hike is obviously not HMHDI …they  are HYOH and that (as discussed earlier) is just plain wrong.  Remember, the hiker who HMHDI recognizes that there is only one, true, correct and absolute way to hike. Any other way of hiking is just  not enjoyable and is therefore wrong.  Remember, different from my way is bad. Different from my way is incorrect. Different from my way is not enjoyable. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

Finally, all HMHDI hikers know, to the decimal place, how many miles they’ve hiked. Hiking is not about time spent outdoors. Or memories made. No. It is keeping an accurate count of how many miles you’ve hiked. John Muir, Ed Abbey, Henry David Thoreau and Colin Fletcher never listed their mileage. They are pack sniffers. HMHDI and keep track of your mileage!


Two obvious pack sniffers. Remember, 20 pounds. No more.  No less

On a similar  topic are the so-called record attempts or even speed hikes on the long trails. Pushing yourself physically, exploring what the a human body is capable of doing and walking all day on the trail from morning until dusk is clearly not HMHDI.  You are HYOH  and missing out on the spirit of ‘stopping to smell the roses‘.

On a journey on a long distance hiking trail, you will not smell the roses of a three sided lean-to filled with mice if you hike all day into the evening twilight.  If you leave at sunrise and start hiking, you are obviously trying to hike more than 15 miles per day.  To truly enjoy the trail you must HMHDI and be up no earlier than 9 am, be in camp at 5pm and spend many days off in town drinking beer.  Walking all day on a hiking trail is wrong. HMHDI!

Be here no later than 5pm to truly experience the trail and all its beauty. The pack sniffer who took this photo was obviously out past 5pm, not ‘stopping to smell the roses’  and definitely not  HMHDI.


When I first started backpacking, I naively assumed that a hiker looked at a map, figured out a route and went from A to B via foot.

How silly I was!

Since I’ve done my many hours of research, I’ve discovered that walking from A to B on foot is not enough.  It is best to take a lesson from the organized races and follow a narrowly defined path only; otherwise the outdoors experience is not true.

On trails such as the Appalachian Trail, you can have many hours of fun conversation debating if you should walk in and out of the campsite the same way to say you have truly done the trail.  A person HMHDI  knows that this discussion is not trivial. That it really does matter if you want to get your patch for the “I love me wall”.   Don’t share your stories, dreams or favorite memories. Let your friends and loved ones know if you really hiked into and out of the campsite the correct way!

For many years, this discussion was avoided on Western trails. Luckily, hikers based primarily on the  Internet  are finally seeing the light and recognizing the value of HMHDI!  It is not enough to merely walk the length of the Sierra, the Cascades or even the Rockies on your own two feet. Your hike is not really valid unless you follow the officially designated path that may be buried under snow,  hard to locate or even not completed. If you do not follow this path, you will be set up for ridicule by the outdoor experts on the Internet. Remember, don’t be a pack sniffer! HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT !


Wagon Tounge Mountain

A pack sniffer  is one who does not follow the official trail through here; he is not HMHDI

Making Money Off Outdoor Pursuits

Real hikers do not write books, make gear, sell photographs,  get sponsored by outdoor companies, give talks or benefit in any way, shape or form from their passion.

All real hikers with any talent for the above do for free.

If you are a real hiker with any kind of talent that may relate to the outdoors, consider finding a meaningless cubicle job that does not make use of your passion.

If someone is fortunate enough to make a living out of their passion, they are not a real hiker. Make fun of them anonymously on the Internet!

Remember..don’t HYOH (or earn your own living)…HMHDI!

Obviously he’sHMHDI !    This pack sniffer has sold a few freelance articles and sold an occasional photo. Plus he’s on skis. Mock him!


Other Outdoor Activities

Many people who subscribe to the false philosophy of HYOH  have an equally  false belief. These HYOH miscreants believe people who don’t long distance hike or (shudder) do more then just hike posses an outdoor knowledge worth sharing. The HYOH pack sniffers believe that people can actually know something about, or even enjoy, the outdoors who don’t neccessarily hike the long trails or even hike at all.  That reasoning is simply not true.

To be a a real hiker and to HMHDI you must only backpack on long trails. Weekend backpacks and day hikes are only acceptable for training purposes. If you go on a day hike or weekend backpack merely for enjoyment and/or being with friends, you are a pack sniffer and not HMHDI!

Trail runners are of course the antithesis  of all real hikers. Loping along the trails, taking in the fresh air, getting an endorphin rush and feeling a sheer bliss for life while in nature can not be had while trail running. I know this because many of the hikers I met have told me so. They must be correct. HMHDI!

Climbers, skiers, and (dare I say it?) mountain bikers obviously know nothing about enjoying the outdoors and have no knowledge to share. The sunsets they see are are not as beautiful and fulfilling as the ones real hikers see. A thru-hiker who is in a shelter by  5pm and has never picked up a compass obviously knows more about about, and how to enjoy, the outdoors than the bow hunter who never takes a trail. Remember, to really enjoy the outdoors, and to prove you KNOW the outdoors, HMHDI! 

Backpackers who follow white rectangles for 6 mos without knowing how to read map, walk on a well defined trail that can be as much as five miles from a road and have ample guidebooks, logistic support and services  are obviously outdoor experts. Scorn people who do something different with your expert outdoor advice! HMHDI!



The HMHDI philosophy will lead you to the one, true, correct and absolute way to enjoy the outdoors.

Enjoying the outdoors is not just a matter of being in Nature. It is not a matter of enjoying the outdoors that satisfied your own personal levels of safety, comfort and fun.  It is not that silly phrase of HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE.

No, enjoying the outdoors is about what other people (most specifically – ME) tell you is correct way  to enjoy the outdoors.

Can the outdoors really be enjoyed if you find your path to fulfillment?  Real hikers (and only hikers are real outdoors people…and only long distance hikers are real hikers. And only hikers who follow the HMHDI philosophy are real hikers) recognize that there can only be one, true, correct and absolute way to enjoy the outdoors.

Enjoying the outdoors is not about fun, experiencing nature, the physical challenge, camaraderie or the journey.

It is about being outdoors the correct way.

And being outdoors the correct way is about doing it my way.

Don’t be a pack sniffer.  HIKE MY HIKE , DAMN IT!

Remember ….the hiker who HMHDI recognizes that there is only one, true, correct and absolute way to hike. Any other way of hiking is just  not enjoyable and is therefore wrong.  Remember, different from my way is bad. Different from my way is incorrect. Different from my way is not enjoyable. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!




23 Replies to “Hike My Hike – Damn It! (HMHDI)”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I had heard that this might be true, but only now can I come to grips with the reality of it, as it is posted on the INTERNET. I feel like such a fool. I have wasted so many months long-distance hiking the wrong way. I thought I was happy about it, but now that I read this, I am realizing how wrong I really was. I can’t believe I work in outdoor retail too. I am a total pack sniffer! At least I can get some of my gear there for my next hike. Thank you for opening my eyes!

  2. Hey Mags, I love it. Yes, you should write a book. It took me about 2000 miles before the light came on but I did learn the HMH-DI basic principles. MNS

  3. DAMN IT! I knew I should of called my book “Hike My Own Hike MY WAY!”

    I would have sold way more copies.

    But as you so rightly point out, I shouldn’t be making any money off such propaganda! Shame on me! That’s why I’ve decided to give my books away! Hell, I’ll even pay the shipping to your home. It’s so much better that I work as a corporate tool in a cubical.

    Mighty Mags, there’s one thing you left out: FOOD! I want to make sure I hike your hike, damn it, so what should I eat? I’m sure there’s just only one right way to do it. Corn pasta? Or is that for p*****? Snickers all the way? Or should I just use my big knife to live off of killing wild rabbits and bears?

    Your fan,

    Francis Tapon

  4. @Mags: just one question from this pack sniffer … what is the HMHDI approved method of cleaning my breakfast off this keyboard?

    @SamH: re: “find a way to get my pack up to 20 lbs” …. based on my visit with the Bay Area BPLers I’d say that the solution to that problem might be “more beer” 🙂

  5. Jeeeesh ™ Paul, don’t leave me hanging. Eggsactly what stove do I need to Hike Yer Hike, DammIt?! I’ve gone through all my Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazines page by page and have seen several possibilities. I’m hoping it weighs a bit more than the one I got now, cause I’m hovering around 19.6 lb pack weight right now … Tell me so that I can run to down to my local Very Expensive Outdoor Store and correct this situation.

  6. Just stumbled on this Rant! Ruined my day… been hiking over 45 years the wrong way. Think I’ll just go sit in the closet for awhile.

  7. Love the RI references. I, too, have summited Jerimoth Hill….but in a car, the way it’s MEANT to be done!

  8. Right on! A few weeks ago, my wife and I caught so much shit when we hiked the Wonderland Trail. We did it in just over 3 days (4th day finished in 4 hours). As is normal on the trail, when you cross paths with another backpacker, the typical exchange is “where did you start today?” or “where are you headed?”. After being called everything from being “extreme” to “sacrilegious”, amongst other things, we stopped communicating with folks on the trail. Did we judge those doing it in 10 to 12 days? No! Did we ask folks why they were wearing big-ass, burly hiking boots while we wore trail running shoes? No! As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. 🙂

  9. You real hikers have probably seen a lot of this. When I first began looking into this hiking business, I thought it would be folks that hid their thoughts, skills and methods like fishermen with their favorite fishing hole. What I’m seeing is that the info is being shared without hesitation. Not only is it being shared but you all seem to have a “better than most” sense of humor about it all.
    HMHDI, that’s Gold!!!

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