Hike Your Own Hike is a bit like The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It doles out common sense that we should know but need pounded into our heads every once in awhile. Author Francis Tapon isn’t a guru or a life coach, but he is an average person who did a seemingly inhuman thing—hiking the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail—and picked up a few principles that can be applied to everyday life along the way.
The book is split into seven chapters, each one dedicated to the seven life principles Tapon learned on the trail. These principles, which essentially address how to live a happy, healthy and satisfying life, each go into depth about why the principle is important and how to apply the principle to life as well as debunking any criticisms people might have, all under the context of hiking the Appalachian Trail. The seven chapters are also explicitly devoted to seven sections of the trail, so readers hike the trail from beginning to end with Tapon.
Hike Your Own Hike is not a masterpiece nor is it the best written book I’ve ever read, but it’s an important book with an important message and everyone would be wise to read it just to ground themselves in a bit of reality. The book opens with the first principle and also the theme that drives the book: Hike your own hike. That is, live your best life by living the life you want to lead. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you have to do. Go your own pace and your direction.
The next six principles—beware of summit fever; hike with passion; learn from trail lore; eat well, walk hard, and sleep soundly; perform trail magic; and the hike is too important to take seriously—round out the book and provide context for how to live your life to the fullest … or how to hike your own hike.
Though I won’t go into detail about each principle, I will mention that my favorite principle was the final one: The hike is too important to take seriously. That is, there are a lot of things that really don’t matter in life and only a few things that actually matter. We spend a lot of time stressed out over things that we shouldn’t take seriously (I’m guilty) and forget to laugh at life (I’m guilty but getting better). With all the cruddy things going on in the world today, this chapter was a much appreciated reminder that we are in charge of framing how we view the things we encounter in our daily lives. Ultimately, we decide how and in what manner we hike our own hike.
Tapon asked me to review his book and provided me with a comped copy, but all opinions are my own.