The Big Epic

Connect with Nature - One Adventure at a Time

The M&M Test

There is a story frequently told among AT hikers. It explains how to identify the type of hiker (day hiker, section hiker, long distance/thru hiker) using the simple M&M test: When three M&Ms are scattered along the trail, what does the hiker do? M&M Test_the settingThe day hiker walks right past the candy, never noticing it. M&M test 1_day hikerThe short section hiker stops and picks up the candy. Following “Leave No Trace” principles, this hiker puts the M&Ms in her trash sack to carry out of the woods. M&M test 2_section hikerThe long distance hiker, always starving, throws off her pack, grabs the M&Ms and pops them into her mouth. M&M test 3_thru hikerThen that long distance hikers scrambles to find any other candies that might have been dropped! M&M test 4_thru hiker

(Are you wondering which type of hikers we are? If we drop our own candy or trail mix, we pick it up and eat it. After all, we need every calorie we can get! But no, we don’t eat trash candy left by others. Perhaps that is the difference between long-distance section hikers and thru-hikers?!)

(Thanks to daughter Nettie for taking the photos and daughter Andowen for being the model.)

(Hiker Hunger is real! Read about it HERE…)


  1. Ha, ha–good one.

    In Colorado, we used to hike ahead of our buddies and make a little pile of Milk Duds on the trail next to deer scat.

    THEM: “Why’d you stop?”

    YOU: “Look, it’s deer scat and elk scat.”

    THEM: “So?”

    YOU: “I read somewhere that that only way you can tell them apart is that elk scat tastes sweeter.”

    THEM: “–”

    YOU: “Well, only one way to find out…”

    Just make sure you eat from the right pile.

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