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  1. #1
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    Default What would you do?

    Several years ago I hiked from Springer Mountain to Hot Springs, NC on the Appalachian trail. I am thinking about starting in Hot Springs and finishing the rest of the way to Katahdin. Will I be a section hiker, is it considered a thru-hike? I am lost at what to do.

  2. #2

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    According to the ATC, a thru hike is completing the trail in one calendar year. If that is important to you, youíll need to start at Springer again and head north (or vice versa). If completing the trail is the driving factor, start at Hot Springs and head north. You would be a section hiker or LASHíer (long a** section hiker) and at the end of your hike you would be a 2000 miler. Interestingly, the ATC does not distinguish between a thru hiker and a section hiker who completes the entire trail. They are both 2,000 milers to the conservancy.

    Aside from that, Iím unsure of why you would be at a loss of what to do? Are you more concerned about the title or completing the trail?
    Last edited by capehiker; 10-26-2017 at 12:39.

  3. #3

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    It is your hike do what you want

    IMO and most others I would consider that to be a section hike. And that you have completed the trail in two sections, GA to HS & HS to Maine.

    If I were to be in your shoes, I would start in GA and go all the way. That way for one I could call myself an accomplished thru hiker, while still leaving your current completion on a "Map 1" that could continue to be completed through the years of your life to say that you have now completed the AT as both a thru hiker, and a section hiker.

    Some variables to think about on the opp side of the coin though are:
    Your timeframe: If there is any sort of timeline you have to be back by, and starting off in HS would a leave some stress of finishing on time, then that could be a plus.

    If starting in HS, when you get to Maine and finish, you may decide you want to go back to HS and hike south to make it an official thru hike for the year. By doing this, you would still leave the GA-HS as completed as a section as a god start to that map 1 I spoke about earlier

    Money: IF money is a little tight, Starting in HS would save you a good bit of money during your hike.
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 10-26-2017 at 12:49.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tipcar View Post
    Several years ago I hiked from Springer Mountain to Hot Springs, NC on the Appalachian trail. I am thinking about starting in Hot Springs and finishing the rest of the way to Katahdin. Will I be a section hiker, is it considered a thru-hike? I am lost at what to do.
    What I would do is what I can.
    You would be a long distance hiker in my eyes.

  5. #5
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    Just go hike what sounds good to you. Screw the labels.

    Technically a thru-hike is a single year end-to-end hike. I do those every day in my local park. No big deal!!


    Go be a passionate hiker/backpacker.

    I will NEVER be a thru-hiker by most people's definition because I think there is so much more to do backpacking than following a trail end-to-end (even through borring ugly parts). I rarely backpack for more than a day without taking some long or short-cut that involves off-trail travel to explore some interesting drainage or climb some interesting peak or ridge. I tend to stay away from heavily traveled trails because I tend to backpack partly for the solitude and quite. As a youth, I used to belittle people that hiked the PCT and AT because I considered them a bunch of ninnies that needed a blazed or otherwise well marked trail to be able to go out and spend extended periods of time in the "wilderness". I considered marked trails little more than easy-access entry point from which to start an adventure.

    As an old curmudgeon, I've learned to appreciate the idea of thru-hiking classic scenic trails and the value of being able to go out in the "wilderness" for extended periods of time and be safe without extensive wilderness experience. I've also learned a lot from these ninnies and their fresh new ways of looking at efficient back-country travel. Thru-hiking helps create dreams and opens up the wilderness to a much broader swath of people, and that is good, as it brings more people to appreciate the value of our natural and scenic resources.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  6. #6
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    I suggest starting at Hot Springs and doing the rest of the AT. Long trails take a lot out of your body, and you'll increase your chances of becoming a 2000 miler if you don't start by repeating that section. If you get to Katahdin and you're still healthy and motivated, you can go back to Hot Springs and head south as a flip-flopper. By going in the opposite direction on that section you'll also get a different perspective compared to hiking it northbound again.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by DownEaster View Post
    I suggest starting at Hot Springs and doing the rest of the AT. Long trails take a lot out of your body, and you'll increase your chances of becoming a 2000 miler if you don't start by repeating that section. If you get to Katahdin and you're still healthy and motivated, you can go back to Hot Springs and head south as a flip-flopper. By going in the opposite direction on that section you'll also get a different perspective compared to hiking it northbound again.
    +1 on this, this give you options to be an actual "thru hiker" (after Katahdin flipping back to HS and heading south) if that does indeed turn out to be important.

    Coincidently, my wife and I are starting out NOBO from Hot Springs next spring, probably April 2nd (booked travel mon April 1st). No plans on making Katahdin next year, but who knows. I'm repeating the AT for her benefit.

    I know a lady who has tried now three times to do a traditional AT thru, starting at Springer all 3 times, making it somewhere into VA all three times then quitting. Now she's trying a 4th time next year. If she had picked up where she left off the first three times she might have now seen the entire AT, but has this thing in her head that it's a "thru hike of nothing". To each his/her own!

  8. #8
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    Good arguments can be made for either way.

    Hot Springs start: Depending on exactly when you start, you could be well head of the big hiker bubble. Plus the numbers have already started to thin out. So the amount of traffic will be manageable. The down side is your heading right into a fairly difficult section of trail and the thru hikers who are behind you will be catching up and passing you until you get your trail legs in a few weeks.

    Springer start: You have a chance to develop your trail legs and get into the life style before hitting NC/TN where the real fun starts. The down side is you'll be in the thick of the spring bubble and part of the problem.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    Just go the Australian way of thinking. Any multi day bushwalk is a thru hike for us. I'm starting off from Sams Gap. just south of Erwin where I was injured this year, on the 6th Apr. If I have time I'm going to flip back and SOBO the part I have already done, so I do it all in one season. If not I'll get back to Australia and everyone will know I did the AT in 2 thru hikes. In the end there are no prizes or medals, it's a personal accomplishment only, do it any way you want/can.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

  10. #10

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    I think the information provided already has hit the key points. I had hiked 350 miles of the southern AT over the course of 6 years before setting out on my thru earlier this year. I gave some thought to not repeating what I had done, but quickly decided for me, I wanted to have the thru experience and honestly, the label. I enjoyed the advantages of being familiar with the first few hundred miles on the trail, both the difficulty of sections and which shelters to stay in, and which to avoid. When I got into VA and was in unfamiliar territory, it was a slight confidence hit, but I quickly got over that.

    If you don't come up with a clear decision, you can start at HS and if it bugs you after you finish, you live close enough to HS to head there and go south in the same year. To rustle some others' jimmies, I will add that as a thru, I got really tired of upon meeting another hiker on the trail and exchanging the "are you section hiking or thru hiking", most section hikers have to tell you their entire section hiking resume, where they started, where they stopped and why. Honestly, no one cares, let's just exchange pleasantries and get on with our hikes. The point of that comment is that you will likely be compelled to answer the simple question with a long explanation for 5 months. It's your call. Enjoy your hike, it's one heck of an adventure.

  11. #11

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    I'd go with the suggestion to start in Hot Springs. If it still matters to you once you get to Katahdin, head back to Hot Springs and hike to Springer. It doesn't matter where you start from to be a thruhiker.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  12. #12

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    When you become just a hiker...all this nonesence goes away, but I like Gators idea.

  13. #13
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    I like the idea of starting at Hot Springs and continuing north. Then if you've still got gas in the tank, money in the bank, and some time, do the section from Springer to Hot Springs in either direction.

    Or if starting in June fits your schedule better, be a SOBO and start at Katahdin and head south. When you get to Hot Springs, make the decision to keep going or wear your 2000 miler title proudly.

    Good luck on your journey.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by glenlawson View Post
    Or if starting in June fits your schedule better, be a SOBO and start at Katahdin and head south. When you get to Hot Springs, make the decision to keep going or wear your 2000 miler title proudly.

    Good luck on your journey.
    This makes the most sense to me, don't make the decision until you get to HS or close. You'll know by then if it is what you want to do and you won't have to travel to do it.

  15. #15
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    If you finish, you won’t care.

  16. #16
    Registered User Last Call's Avatar
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    I just depends on how important the badge is to you. Many claim a badge without even doing the Approach Trail, which I find utterly confounding.
    Let's head for the roundhouse; they can't corner us there!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Last Call View Post
    I just depends on how important the badge is to you. Many claim a badge without even doing the Approach Trail, which I find utterly confounding.
    The appaorach trail is not part of the AT. Why is that confounding?

  18. #18
    Registered User Last Call's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by capehiker View Post
    The appaorach trail is not part of the AT. Why is that confounding?
    For all intents and purposes, it is the beginning of the Southern terminus of the A.T, why, even the very first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter..... even the ranger at Amicalola told me it was the starting point.
    Let's head for the roundhouse; they can't corner us there!

  19. #19
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    I too vote start where you left off. Then if you want you can flip to do the whole trail in a calendar trail.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Last Call View Post
    For all intents and purposes, it is the beginning of the Southern terminus of the A.T, why, even the very first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter..... even the ranger at Amicalola told me it was the starting point.
    Rangers can say what they like, if you start at Springer Mt, the southern terminus and finish at Katahdin Mountain, the northern terminus, you have walked the Appalachian Trail. All the other trails including the approach trail, a blue blazed trail, don't count, do or don't do at your whim.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

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