AT Thru-Hike #35 – ENTJs on the AT

“The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.” – Adam Smith

“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” – Doris Mortman

Day 50

I got back on the trail and was a little sad that I had hiked myself out of wild pony country. There were plenty more fields and pastures, though, including one stretch that looked straight out of Little House on the Prairie.



The big goal today was to make it to Partnership Shelter and order a pizza. That’s right, it’s the only AT shelter I know of where you can call and have a pizza delivered to you. It is also the rare shelter that has showers. I arrived there just before 3 p.m. and went in on a large pizza and family-sized cheese bread with Reading Man. We devoured it at the shelter picnic table and shared some with Dirty Deed, Buckles, Grit, Olive Oil, and others.

Partnership Shelter
Partnership Shelter
Shelter Pizza!
Shelter Pizza!

Around 4:30 p.m. I checked the forecast and saw that rain was expected to begin in 3 hours and last for 3 days. Given the somewhat crowded shelter and Fob’s Law #1…”shelters with 7 or more people will have at least one loud snorer who needs to be stabbed in the temple with a spork”…I decided to hike on.

As I climbed Glade Mountain, I could feel the storm approaching and kicked it into high gear to get to a flat spot at the summit. At mile 537.6, after a 19.4 mile day, I pitched my tent, hung my bear bag, and crawled into the tent just as rain started to fall. Before dozing off to heavy rain, I received a message from my friend, Darrell Brimberry, with a video clip of Heart performing Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven at the Kennedy Center Honors. Great stuff!

I would estimate that the closest human being to me to the north was more than 1.5 miles away at the next shelter…and more than 5 miles away to the south. That brings up a question that I’m frequently asked by friends and family: Does it bother you to hike alone or sometimes camp alone atop mountains and other remote places?

Dragon Tree...Glade Mountain Companion
Dragon Tree…Glade Mountain Companion

I will attempt to answer that in a way that only my youngest, Myers-Briggs loving son, Kyle, aka The Trailpooper, aka B.W. Pot, can appreciate. Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, developed a personality inventory to make C. G. Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and useful in people’s lives.  (I used to teach AP Psych so bear with me as I geek out a bit.)  By answering a series of questions, you can find out to which of the 16 personality types you belong. It turns out both Kyle and I are ENTJs…Extraverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, and Judging…aka, The Commander…aka, The Executive. That’s one reason he and I are so much alike. That can be both a good and bad thing on the AT:

The Good…
– Driven, determined…loves a big challenge (probably explains why I’m out here).
– Confident…given enough time and resources, believes any goal can be achieved, sometimes through sheer willpower.
– Extremely rational…helps with AT decision-making related to logistics, mileage, etc. For big decisions, B.W. Pot and I will typically (and nerdily) write out pros and cons on a sheet of paper to help in our analysis. If I’m feeling especially nerdy, I’ll put said pros and cons into an Excel spreadsheet.  What gets me into the Nerd Hall of Fame (and sucks the joy out of life) is when I weight each factor by importance, and then multiply, and then sum the columns to mathematically compute the right, rational, best choice.  I still make plenty of bad decisions, but rarely because I didn’t analyze the pros and cons involved.
– The Extroverted (E) nature, which I’m just barely (52%/48%) makes me comfortable and able to draw energy from groups (at shelters, campfires, etc.). I enjoy good conversation and being around people as much as anyone.
– The 48% Introverted (I) nature makes me just as comfortable and able to draw energy from being/hiking alone, solo camping atop a mountain, reading by a quiet lake, etc. Some of my best thinking and writing happens in solitude. Don’t ever worry that I’m unhappy when I’m alone on the trail.  Still, I miss my wife whether I’m alone or with people.
– Thinks strategically, with a long term focus (summiting Katahdin), while executing each step of their plans with determination and precision (5 million steps actually!).
– Strong-willed – unlikely to give up when the going gets tough (time will tell)
– Inspirational – hopefully to some…at least my two sons who are my pride and joy and the two folks on the planet I most want to inspire, encourage, and mentor.  If I leave any legacy after I’m dead and gone, it will be those two fellas.  Well, them and a couple of ladies who have written incredibly encouraging things to me on my Trailjournals guest book.

The Bad…
– Sometimes not emotionally expressive…more likely to analyze/rationalize with a fellow hiker who’s hurting than to give them the hug and shoulder to cry on they actually need.
– Low tolerance for people viewed as inefficient, incompetent, or lazy (“of course you’re struggling, you have a 12-lb. stove!”).
– Can sometimes be condescending, insensitive, and arrogant…not me, but other ENTJs. 🙂
– Too much willpower/confidence can lead to pushing their vision/agenda, and theirs alone. As a mostly solo hiker, it’s probably good that I don’t have to regularly confer/negotiate with others on when to start and stop, where to stay, and the myriad other daily decisions that couples/groups hiking together deal with.  All decisions out here are mine alone, however good or bad they be.
– Sometimes impatient and intolerant. More likely to confront (rationally, of course) or walk away from a pot smoker, than to sit there breathing it in and “tolerating” it.  Also, I have to take the AT golden rule, “Hike Your Own Hike,” to heart, so as not to be judgmental towards people going about things contrary to my approach (like those who slack pack).

Among the famous ENTJs in history are Julius Caesar, David Letterman, and Jeb Bush…and I can see a bit of each of them in me and Kyle. Other famous ENTJs include Adolf Hitler and Hillary Clinton, the knowledge of which keeps me up at night.

Anyway, I would encourage everyone to take the Myers-Briggs test and see how well it captures your personality. It can help you to leverage your personality strengths and be aware of potential weaknesses. If you disagree with me, you are clearly irrational and need to reconsider your position.  I have a spreadsheet you can use.


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4 thoughts on “AT Thru-Hike #35 – ENTJs on the AT”

  1. Steve,

    Love the posts. Educational and very inspirational. By my calculations (I didn’t use a spreadsheet), you should be in “our neck of the woods” in about three weeks! Can’t wait to meet up with you!


    1. It’s when someone else (family member, friend, hostel owner, etc) carries (drives) your backpack for you so you can hike a big mile day. Or they may drive you 30 miles up trail and then you hike back to the hostel and your backpack. I don’t do it, for reasons I’ll address in a future blog. Hey, congrats on your new RV! One step closer to livin’ the dream!

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