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Thread: Hitchhiking

  1. #1
    Registered User Redbird2's Avatar
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    Default Hitchhiking

    I've never hitchhiked anywhere. That seems to be the most common way to get into town from the trail. I've read that if you're an older male and not lucky enough to have a young female with you, expect it to take longer to get a ride. What has been your experience hitching a ride into town? Suggestions for how to do it right?

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    i've hitched dozens upon dozens of times with and without a lady. there is no rhyme or reason for getting picked up

  3. #3

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    I have had luck in SNP, Roan Highlands, and back roads of the smokies in hitching....I have also stood at Tanyard Gap on US25 for over an hour in 90 deg temps, with every single car passing me heading down into Hot Springs and now one would pick me up, had to call bluff mountain to come pick me up. When I am section hiking if I see hikers before or after my trip I pick them up and take them where they need to go.

    If you can find a bandana with "hiker to town" on one side and "hiker to trail" on the other side I have heard that works well, you can also right this on your tyvek ground pad if you carry one of those

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    Registered User ScottTrip's Avatar
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    The crossing roads that you will be hitching on the AT are well know by the locals. They know you are hiking and know you need to get to town. Only in very remote areas with little traffic you can be waiting for awhile, rest of the time I was getting rides in 15 minutes tops...

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    I hitch all by my self a dozen times a year on the AT and have always had good luck. There are some places where they don't get much traffic. Last year i hitched into Monson Me from Bangor and ended up on a mighty lonely road into town but the first car that came by picked me up. People who live near the trail will stop as will other hikers.

  6. #6

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    If you look like you are having a good time and not like a serial killer you will get picked up pretty quickly in my area. We do have a fair share of transients going East West on the local highway US RT2 and many folks including myself will pick up hikers but not transients. Its usually easy to tell the real hikers from the transients. One thing hikers forget about is that most folks at best can fit 3 hikers in small car. I see it all the time where there is big gang of hikers hanging out at corner with their thumbs out. I usually skip the whole lot as otherwise they always try to jamb in as many folks as possible. Signs help, I have a couple of times picked up folks with AT and destination town written on sign and went out of my way to drop them off.

    Dogs are another issue, some folks claim that people will pick them up just because of their dog but I am the opposite I rarely if ever pick up hikers with dogs in my car. In NH I believe hikers can ride in the back of my truck without seatbelts but dogs need to be restrained.

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    I've hitched alone many times in various parts of the country and have rarely had issues getting a ride from a regularly used trailhead area to town, although sometimes I've had more issues getting from town to trail. I'm a 44 year old male. My general rule is to try to clean up at least a little before sticking out my thumb. Take your hat and sunglasses off so drivers can see your face. Smile. If someone doesn't pick you up, keep smiling and maybe wave. I mean a normal smile, not some insane looking grin. Take your backpack off and lean it up against your leg. That shows that you are a backpacker, not a homeless person/transient. Maybe make a sign with destination.

    Yes, it is easier to hitchhike if you are with a female. On the couple of occasions I've hitched with small groups that included a female, I felt like rides were easier to obtain than when I hitched alone. But by no means do single male hikers find it impossible to get rides.

    Oh, and while offering money is a nice thing to do, I've never had anyone take me up on it and one guy got a little insulted ("believe me, I have *plenty* of money", he said... he was driving a 20 year old beater however... )

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    North Georgia Wanderer soumodeler's Avatar
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  9. #9
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    I think a bandana is too small for drivers to see. I have one of Yogi's PCT bandanas and while its a great bandana, I don't think drivers can see it.

    http://www.yogisbooks.com/pacific-cr...class-bandanas

  10. #10

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    Sign: Can't hurt and might help. I use one sometimes if the wait is starting to get long. I have "HIKER TO SUPERMARKET" on one quarter panel of my Tyvak ground sheet and "HIKER TO TRAIL" on another quarter. Black Marker in big letters.

    It does help to hitch to town with a female. First car to come by will stop without fail. Technically, hitching is illegal in NJ and NY, but you don't need to do much of that in those states.

    Usually it doesn't take too long to get a ride into town. Getting out of town in the morning can be a problem though. Everyone is in a rush to get someplace like school, work, or where ever. Many of my rides out of town were with jobbers like painters or carpenters going to a job, but not in too much of a rush to get there. Your more likely to get a ride in a beat up car or truck then a shinny SUV - but even that happens on occasion.

    The most important thing is where you stand. There has to be a clear line of sight for a good couple hundred feet. Make sure your pack is plainly visible. Then there needs to be a place they can pull over safely which they can also see from a distance. They are often traveling at 50 MPH and have to make a snap decision whether to stop or not.

    But sometimes you just have to wait. I was on the Long Trail a couple of years ago, the section north of the AT. I stood at the top of the pass watching car after car go by for over an hour. Then two young guys come along and ask me how long I'd been there. I told them over an hour. They said the next car to come by would stop for them. I was dubious, but they were confident. Damn if not 2 minutes goes by and a van with room for all three of us comes by and pulls over!
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    Was on the trail, Springer to Erwin this year and was picked up within a couple of cars every time I hitched. Surprised at the number of women or women with kids that gave me a ride.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

  12. #12
    imscotty's Avatar
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    Depends on where you are too. I've had great luck in Vermont. Good advice above, take your hat off, put your backpack in front of you so that they can see you are a hiker. Also, very important to choose the right spot to hitch. No sense hitching on a sharp mountainous corner where there is no place for the driver to safely stop.

    When I am at the end of my section I try to be extra friendly to the day hikers I meet along the way out to the trailhead. They have been my best source of rides leaving the trailhead.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

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    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    I've never hitched before my thru hike. I haven't had any issues getting ane to or from town. I think the longest I had to wait was around 15 minutes, as a guess. Locals from the small towns in these areas are familiar with hikers so it's pretty easy to just stick the thumb out for a bit. Sometimes, if I was in a parking lot and we made eye contact, they would even ask if I needed a lift somewhere.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  14. #14

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    Where you stand is probably the most important part. (make sure there's an easy way for them to pull over and get off the road)
    And a smile and eye contact with the driver.

    And remember: hitchhiking is like a pubic hair on a toilet seat: Sooner or later, you get pissed off!
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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    I have had little trouble getting hitches in many parts of the country. Get cleaned up, dress in your town best and I use a humorous pathetic look. Also, if someone passes and makes eye contact, Wave. Often people will turn around. Hitching is one of my favorite parts of hiking. I have met people that I normally would never meet.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  16. #16

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    Just clean up before you put out the thumb!

  17. #17
    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolumpy View Post
    Just clean up before you put out the thumb!
    I had a bit of a laugh at that. I got to Newfound Gap in the Smokies, dirty, muddy to the knees and had that delightful smell of sweat and poorly dried clothes. So I was standing in the carpark thinking I should go down to the toilets and either change or try to clean myself up a bit when a woman stops next to me with a pickup and 5 kids in the seats and says I look like I need a lift to town. Heard the accent, told me to jump in the back and when we got to Gatlinburg stopped at a burger joint with outside seating and talked for about and hour. 2 of the children were hers and that other 3 were foreign exchange students. Great experience and hospitality. I just love the people of the first 3 states and hope the rest are as friendly.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

  18. #18
    Registered User Redbird2's Avatar
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    These stories are really encouraging to me. Thanks!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by imscotty View Post
    When I am at the end of my section I try to be extra friendly to the day hikers I meet along the way out to the trailhead. They have been my best source of rides leaving the trailhead.
    I scored a ride to Charlottesville, VA from Rockfish gap that way which is good distance to go. I was heading north towards the gap on a Sunday morning and chatted up all the day hikers going south to find out if they were returning towards or through Charlottesville. Eventually I hit on one who said meet him at the parking lot and took me to the bus station.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  20. #20

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    It is worth mentioning that a couple of states do not allow hitching. New Jersey certainly, and I believe Maryland. In others you may be hassled by law enforcement regardless. DO a search an be properly informed.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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