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This ethnographic study uses a phenomenological approach to better understand how Appalachian Trail (AT) and Long Trail (LT) thru-hikers create meaning and make sense of their experiences while hiking. Drawing on participant observation and in-depth interviews with 13 hikers, I analyze hikers' initial reasons for hiking, their reflections while on the trail, and the impacts thru-hiking had on their self-concepts and social lives. Key findings demonstrate how life on the trail contrasts withdoi:10.15273/jue.v11i1.10867 fatcat:k4p2c6qj45dgha64yebvianaqm