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  1. #21

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    On the AT I have done a lot of SOBO hiking past hundreds of thru hikers on all parts of the trail, and I think it's a real mix.
    Many drop out fast because hiking wasn't quite the experience they thought it would be.
    Many gamify the trail, and focus more on aspects other than enjoying nature. eg: trudging along and trying to be as social as possible, messing around with your go pro, etc. Obviously those can be done in conjunction with enjoying the trail as well
    And some seem to just be loving being out there.

    For many other LD trails, it seems to be a much higher % of people who love to hike.

    The only way I would be able to thru the AT at this point is if it was an alternate timing/route. eg: sobo start Sept 1, hiking long days, which I enjoy. All the clutter on that trail doesn't work for me, since I do actually like hiking.

    I suspect this site, and particularly people that would respond to this thread, has a majority of people that actually like to hike..

  2. #22

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    I hike because I "just like being out there". There is no special reason. When the hike is over, I'm left with a calm that lasts until next years journey.

    A secondary benefit is the planning. It's fun to making subtle changes such as gear tweaking, shelter mods (e.g. tarp), or coming up with strategies to make the walk more interesting. For example, last year Snickers, pop tarts & junk calories were eliminated to see if energy levels increased (it did). Next year the plan is to make more miles by not photographing half the trail. Something can always be improved. That is one of the things I like.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recalc View Post
    I hike because I "just like being out there". There is no special reason. When the hike is over, I'm left with a calm that lasts until next years journey.

    A secondary benefit is the planning. It's fun to making subtle changes such as gear tweaking, shelter mods (e.g. tarp), or coming up with strategies to make the walk more interesting. For example, last year Snickers, pop tarts & junk calories were eliminated to see if energy levels increased (it did). Next year the plan is to make more miles by not photographing half the trail. Something can always be improved. That is one of the things I like.
    I've done probably a dozen trips when I'd look at my junk food like chocolate and cookies and in disgust I'd throw it all away in the woods (usually bury it) because it made me feel physically bad. But man before each trip that stuff looked good. Junk at home or junk on the trail---it's all still junk.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    For many other LD trails, it seems to be a much higher % of people who love to hike.
    Although I didn't initially say my question was about the AT, I would guess that would be the case on it. More "non-hikers" doing through hikes. Wonder how many who aren't all that into hiking do it, then are life long thru hikers. Wonder how many hiking lovers just never do it again after a through hike.
    Shoestring
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    Finishing the AT sometime in 2037.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by joefryfry View Post
    What percentage of people long distance hiking do you think are out there for the simple fact that they love hiking? The remainder would be out there for any other reason. I love hiking, but I have similar personal issues that lead many to the trail. I started section hiking the AT due to my love of hiking, but now its also due to some personal tragedies that have led me to long for it when I'm not there.
    A very high percentage.

    The AT is NOT the center of every LD hiker's world.

  6. #26
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    My brother-in-law thru hiked the AT a year or 2 ago. for him, it had nothing to do with the love of hiking, as far as I know anyway. For him it seemed to be more about a leave of absence from his current life to get his head straight and a personal challenge to do something that most people can't/don't. More like a personal mission than anything else. To my knowledge, he hasn't set foot on a trail since, though he does do a lot of cycling. I am sure he wasn't the only one with that mindset. There is probably a large percentage of thru-hikers out there for the same reason. Maybe just trying to prove to themselves they can. I get that too. It's not me, but I understand that mentality. For outdoorsmen/women like Tipi for example, doing a long trail outdoors for an extended period of time doesn't prove anything. Its just another Tuesday. but for many who are urbanites and have become warm and fuzzy at the least, and outright addicted at the most, to all the conveniences and luxuries of our modern society, the notion of spending over 24 hours without a shower and sleeping outdoors and carrying all you have to live on your back is an amazing and challenging feat.

    One great side effect of this venture, if successful, is the teaching of oneself to become comfortable and peaceful in ones own skin/company. This is a lesson that would be invaluable to the entire human race at large. What a wonderful feeling to learn that if need be, you can do life predominately all by yourself, that you can be strong, wise, resourceful and imaginative and can survive and maybe even find a pleasant place of peace and contentment without the car, the internet, the house, the trappings of this life. Its personal GOLD as far as lessons learned goes. Doesn't mean that once you've done it, you care to ever do it again. Kind of like College. Invaluable experience, but not something most people want to spend their whole life doing.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

  7. #27
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    Like many I'm peopled out! Working in customer service all I hear day in and day out are whining and complaints. I'll take the solitude of the outdoors hiking the AT or any other trail available to me wherever I am. Backpacking improves the quality of my life. I'll take as much time as I can and if I encounter miserable weather out there my mantra is always "it still beats a day at work". Retirement can't come soon enough lol.
    Happy Lifetime Sectioner!

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This is exactly my scenario. I've done the same trails hundreds of times but as long as I have a pack on my back I'm always excited to go. When you sleep with Miss Nature nothing gets old---and she's always there on the morning after.
    Ditto, you said it so well. I just love walking all day in nature.

  9. #29

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    Before I set off on my first thru hike, I took every opportunity to go out for weekend hikes and longer both because I wanted and needed the experience but mostly because I loved being out in the woods. Still do. Its why I live in the Smokies. I've been amazed at the number of beginning thru hikers I've met in Georgia every year who have precisely zero backpacking experience yet are fairly certain that they'll love a five month sojourn on the AT.
    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

  10. #30
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    I love walking, I love being out in nature. Backpacking allows me to do both.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  11. #31
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    The AT is pretty unique.
    It attracts more than backpackers... including those simply looking for an alternative to town life for a time.

    It's one of the few trails that provides social, cultural, community, history, and whatever else you want to toss into the 'other' bucket.

    I think I get the sentiment of the OP...
    Backpackers do love hiking and nature. A decent gauge if you'd like; would be to find how many other trails where all the bonus features of the AT are not found have been hiked.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to find a backpacker who didn't enjoy the AT... though you might find backpackers who dislike it for all the other reasons non-backers may visit.

    I don't think it'd be too hard to take an 'adventurer' walking the AT and find that they didn't like hiking much when that's all a trail has to offer.
    You might find them on the Camino, or hostel hoping Europe, or eco touring some place.

    Course... odds are good your average long distance hiker wouldn't wander off the beaten path where compass work rather than apps are required either.
    Your average hunter or bushcrafter is often shocked to find out how little outdoors skills are needed for such great distances covered.

    Nothing wrong with travel for travel's sake.
    Nor hiking for hiking's sake.
    Or sitting on a stump watching the world go by for it's own sake.

    The AT just happens to be one of the few places where the three pursuits overlap pretty well.

  12. #32
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    On the flipside....
    Not that I have the time lately. But I find short backpacking trips very difficult these days and not very enjoyable.

    More of an addictive personality problem really...
    That quick fix some enjoy on a short 24 hour adventure leaves me with worse withdrawal than if I had not gone at all.
    I enjoy long trails because at the end of short hikes I wish the trail kept going... that I could keep going... that I should keep going.

    I can enjoy a short day hike, especially with the family.
    I can slap on a pack and walk a few miles in to a group hammock hang where we can sit a fire and sip a few drinks.
    I can do quite a few things outdoors enjoyably enough.


    But slapping on a pack for a mere weekend is hard.
    Like a drunk being served a sip and having the drink taken away before that sweet fix to feed the addict inside is achieved.

    In that respect... you could perhaps call me a long distance hiker who doesn't like hiking.

  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    Not that I have the time lately. But I find short backpacking trips very difficult these days and not very enjoyable.

    More of an addictive personality problem really...
    That quick fix some enjoy on a short 24 hour adventure leaves me with worse withdrawal than if I had not gone at all.
    I enjoy long trails because at the end of short hikes I wish the trail kept going... that I could keep going... that I should keep going.


    But slapping on a pack for a mere weekend is hard.
    Like a drunk being served a sip and having the drink taken away before that sweet fix to feed the addict inside is achieved.

    In that respect... you could perhaps call me a long distance hiker who doesn't like hiking.
    This is exactly how I feel about Dayhiking. Why should I bother to get in a car at the start of a day and go hiking and then have to leave the woods and return to the car that evening? I compare it to breaking a fast at a cafeteria but I can't eat any of the food, i.e. I can't stay in the woods and spend the night. Why torture myself? Why go to all that effort to reach a backcountry trailhead if I can't stay for 3 weeks?????????

  14. #34

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    I've heard that those who really love hiking come back for more in some way. The trail crews are all most always Thur-Hikers. (Right??)

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This is exactly how I feel about Dayhiking. Why should I bother to get in a car at the start of a day and go hiking and then have to leave the woods and return to the car that evening? I compare it to breaking a fast at a cafeteria but I can't eat any of the food, i.e. I can't stay in the woods and spend the night. Why torture myself? Why go to all that effort to reach a backcountry trailhead if I can't stay for 3 weeks?????????
    some of us are not so fortunate to get 3 weeks off from life's responsibilities - so day hikes and weekend sections is all we get.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mother Natures Son View Post
    I've heard that those who really love hiking come back for more in some way. The trail crews are all most always Thur-Hikers. (Right??)
    Many of the trail crews that I've worked with have had one or more former thru hikers as members or leaders .

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    some of us are not so fortunate to get 3 weeks off from life's responsibilities - so day hikes and weekend sections is all we get.
    When one has no responsibilities nor ambitions, one can drive 10 miles from your house, hike in 2 miles, squat in place for 3 weeks, eat all your Skippy and walk 5 miles to the trailhead and then ridicule thru hikers who haven’t walked the same trails for 30 years, over and over and over and over, again and again and again, instead they choose to optimize their pack weights, resupply intervals and daily mileage.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmitchell View Post
    Many of the trail crews that I've worked with have had one or more former thru hikers as members or leaders .
    And occasionally trailworkers backpack in with their tools and spend several nights in an area doing trailwork. Sgt Rock used to do this, along with Ken Jones and some of the BMT boys.

    TRIP 68 056-L.jpg
    Sgt Rock and friends backpacking in for a trailworking weekend.

    TRIP 68 058-L.jpg
    Sgt Rock in action.

    58-5 Ken Jones and the BMTA camp-XL.jpg
    Trail worker extraordinaire Ken Jones preparing to camp on a work trip.

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This is exactly how I feel about Dayhiking. Why should I bother to get in a car at the start of a day and go hiking and then have to leave the woods and return to the car that evening? I compare it to breaking a fast at a cafeteria but I can't eat any of the food, i.e. I can't stay in the woods and spend the night. Why torture myself? Why go to all that effort to reach a backcountry trailhead if I can't stay for 3 weeks?????????
    I enjoy walking through the woods because it is like a slow motion scenic tour. You have time to get a good look at everything around you and soak it in. There is always something interesting to see in the woods. I call that hiking. It is fun whether the walking lasts one day or many. Backpacking is hiking plus camping. It sounds like you can't enjoy one without the other. It makes me curious to know which is your favorite Tipi, the walking, the camping or both?
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    I enjoy walking through the woods because it is like a slow motion scenic tour. You have time to get a good look at everything around you and soak it in. There is always something interesting to see in the woods. I call that hiking. It is fun whether the walking lasts one day or many. Backpacking is hiking plus camping. It sounds like you can't enjoy one without the other. It makes me curious to know which is your favorite Tipi, the walking, the camping or both?
    I see backpacking as purely the technique necessary to live in the woods and spend every night at a new spot---unless bad weather dictates I stay put for a zero tent day in camp---i.e. long cold rainstorms, blizzards, severe cold storms etc.

    I dislike pulling zero days as I like to keep trip momentum going by moving and I get excited about hiking the next day and following an intricate trail system to points wherever.

    Both Hiking and Camping are equally important to me. If hiking weren't a big component of my trips I would Basecamp---that technique whereby a backpacker hauls in all his stuff several miles from a trailhead and squats for a week or two or three without packing up and moving. I am not a basecamper because #1 it's boring and #2 I like to set up an intricate trip and trail schedule before the trip with several goals---like---reach Wildcat Creek! Pull the Nutbuster Trail! Tackle the Snowbird Backcountry! Every trip has a goal, or quest.

    Hauling out 21 days of food and books and stove fuel and the "accoutrements of idiocy"---my hiking and camping comforts---means I often do short mile days because my pack is around 85+ lbs. But I definitely like to pack up and hike every day and move from camp to camp and stick to my pre-arranged Quest.

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