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Likewise, her brother and hiking partner Brandon Imp found himself striding to the strains of “Instant Karma,” and “Imagine.”

“John Lennon,” he said. “Over and over and over and over. The Apples in stereo.”

The Imps aren’t alone.

Plenty of hikers are tossing their iPhones and/or iPods into their packs these days and bringing their own brand of entertainment on the trail.

Though, not every hiker.

Nancy Shepherd said she prefers to leave the earbuds behind and take an old-school hike.

“I don’t understand why people want those things out there,” said the thru-hiker and author. “Aren’t you going to ‘get away from it all?’ Then why take it all with you?”

Jennifer Pharr Davis agrees.

When the North Carolina resident made her record breaking 46 day hike last summer she too opted to pass on the MP3s.

“I prefer to disconnect,” she said. “I’ve never taken any type of music.”

Yet Brandon said his iPod mini actually helped him further disconnect from the world.

“That put my mind elsewhere and made my body get into a groove,” he said. ” …  I was subconsciously looking for solid footing instead of actively thinking about the hike.”

It also provided him and his hiking comrades with some post-hike entertainment other than fireside ghost stories.

“We also had portable Radio Shack speakers – lightweight, no batteries, no power cord,” he said,  “just plugged into the iPod and listened to music around the fire.”

Though he doesn’t think a smartphone is necessarily a smart idea.

“[They] are completely unnecessary unless the hiker wants to update Twitter or Facebook,” he said.  “However, part of the AT experience is being removed from society, so embrace it!”

That’s something Shepherd can agree with,

“Take a break now and then,” she said. “Learn how to be alone.”

Some extended time on the trail eventually convinced Kate that she needed to completely disengage as well.

“About three months in I gave my iPod to [my hiking partner] Lightning to use because it was too distracting, like, it was too much noise.” she said, “I just really zoned out, my brain turned off, and talking to people or listening to things was … annoying.”

After all, everybody needs to get away now and then.

Even Gaga.

[story by Matt Aiken]


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