Lecture Series presents Richard Brinkman on the Pacific Crest Trail and community May 2

April 16, 2019

Media Contact:
Randy Mitchell, career planning coordinator, 509-682-6854
Libby Siebens, community relations executive director, 509-682-6436 (Mon.-Thurs.)

The 2018-2019 WVC Speaks Lecture Series presents “We Are Community: Finding Gemeinschaft in a Gesellschaft World,” by WVC faculty Richard Brinkman. Brinkman will be presenting a second time for the lecture series his research findings from traveling the Pacific Crest Trail. Brinkman first presented about his journey in 2016. The lecture is Thursday, May 2 at 2 p.m. in Wenatchi Hall room 2105 and room 901 in Omak, via ITV. It is free and open to the public.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile footpath that runs from Mexico to Canada.  A notoriously up and down route, the PCT passes four national monuments, six national parks, five state parks, 25 national forests and 48 federal wilderness areas. Brinkman—who hiked the PCT from April through September, 2015—explored not only the incredible majesty of the trail, but a subculture of those who attempt to hike the entire length of the trail. He studied the long-distance hiking subculture as a participant observer and conducted interviews with fellow thru-hikers along the length of the trail. His journey took 150 days.

Brinkman is collaborating with Marshall University sociology professor Dr. Kristi Fondren, who pioneered the first of such studies on the Appalachian Trail (AT), the PCT's sister trail on the Atlantic coast and one of three long trails in the United States. The two have presented two papers on the subject at Rural Sociological Society annual meetings. A few of the focal points of the research include the very strong emotional bonds that develop among long-distance hikers, how 'trail names' affect personal identity, and how our society and world could learn from the long-distance hiking subculture.

Richard Brinkman is a sociology professor at WVC and has taught sociology at the college or university level since 1992. Prior to teaching full-time at WVC, Brinkman served the cities of Aberdeen, Wenatchee and Leavenworth, the latter as a city administrator. Both his bachelor's and master's degrees are in sociology from the University of Oregon and Iowa State University respectively, and he served in the United States Peace Corps from 1990-92 in Central America. Brinkman has served many years with charitable organizations including The United Way and Red Cross, and performed comedy magic for many years benefitting such causes. In 2015, he was awarded a sabbatical from Wenatchee Valley College to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and conduct research on the long-distance hiking subculture.

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