Richard Brinkman

WVC's Richard Brinkman will discuss his research on Pacific Coast Trail hiking subculture May 2 as part of the college's WVC Speaks lecture series.

The 2018-19 WVC Speaks Lecture Series presents “We Are Community: Finding Gemeinschaft in a Gesellschaft World,” by WVC faculty Richard Brinkman.

Brinkman will present a second time for the lecture series his research findings from traveling the Pacific Crest Trail. He first presented about his journey in 2016. The lecture is at 2 p.m. May 2 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.

Brinkman is a sociology professor at WVC who has taught sociology at the college or university level since 1992. He has served many years with charitable organizations including the United Way and Red Cross, and performed comedy magic for many years benefiting such causes. In 2015, he was awarded a sabbatical from Wenatchee Valley College to hike the PCT and conduct research on the long-distance hiking subculture.

Daily parking passes on the Wenatchee campus cost $2. Parking permit machines are available in the Wells Hall/Music and Art Center, Smith Gym, Brown Library and Sexton Hall lots. Students must have valid WVC parking permits. For more information, call 682-6420.

Holly Thorpe is a writer and editor for the community relations department at Wenatchee Valley College. Learn more about WVC at