Like any activity oriented around that great cipher, Nature, hiking is ideologically flexible. After World War II the culture established by the clubs underwent a radical change. A new breed came to prominence: the “thru-hiker.” The first, Earl Shaffer, had never belonged to a hiking club. He spent the summer of 1947 trying “to walk the army out of my system, both mentally and physically,” by becoming the first person to trek the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. When Shaffer finished, the public guardians of club hiking culture were incredulous. An official questioned him at length, only to relent when Shaffer produced a day-by-day diary and hundreds of photographs documenting the trip.