I was an outdoors person before I was a thru-hiker. Just love being out there.
My thru-hikes tended to reflect that feel as I spent a lot of time by myself, enjoyed the social interaction but did not necessarily seek it out, same thing with the ongoing linear community, etc.
I love looking at maps, making my own route and having my own experience.
When I do a long hike again, I just may make my own route off the beaten path or no path at all. I, of course, reserve the right to go back on my own words. ;)
An example of hiking my own hike:
Seven Days Solo in the San Juans
The long trails (even the CDT) are too linear at times. Nature of the beast.
So, guess my weekend (or more) backpacks are about being outside much like my thru-hikes. I do love the journey and being out for weeks or months at a time admittedly.
Don't get me wrong I LOVED my thru-hikes. The AT was responsible for me moving out to Colorado and everything else that followed in my outdoor 'career'.
But, if all I did was hike the long trails, I'd miss out on the canyons of Utah off the Hayduke, never explore the Sangres, not see the sun set over the distant Rockies while at the Pawnee Buttes, being immersed in winter while gliding along on skis deep in the backcountry, feel what it is like to rope up and attain the summit of the mountain or climb the glacier.
I treasure those experiences too much. And doing just thru-hikes would not me experience all that.
Everything involves a sacrifice. Darn if I know the balance!
Anyway, works for me. If there was a best way for everyone, it would be a freakin' boring world! :)