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Abstract

Pilgrimage and tourism can be interpreted as overlapping travel experiences. Given all the changes mass transportation and communication technologies have brought, understanding the phenomenon of pilgrimage becomes fraught with ambiguity. Is pilgrimage better understood as a tourist excursion that affords instances of religious devotion? Pilgrimage routes and long distance scenic trails have their aesthetic appeal, which pilgrims and tourists enjoy. Is there a difference in the way these two groups walk these trails that become manifest through aesthetic experiences and encounters? Looking at long distance hiking on the Appalachian Trail as spiritual journey opens up a reinterpretation of both pilgrimage and tourism, disentangling them. In taking a phenomenological approach to describing and interpreting the two kinds of travel, they are shown to be dissimilar. The liminal journey of the pilgrim opens them to an encounter with both symbols and beings that is distinct from the scenic orientation of the tourist.

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