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  1. #1

    Default Four-State Challenge

    Over the years there has been some debate about what the Four-State Challenge actually consists of. Yesterday I hiked the long version with a marathoner fried of mine, in about 20 hours. The 2018 data book says this route from the Pennsylvania—Maryland line to West Virginia—Virginia line is 58.3 miles. When you account for the walk along Pen-Mar Road to the Pennsylvania—Maryland line and the hike from the West Virginia—Virginia line up to Bear’s Den, where we camped, this totals 61.8 miles.
    The reason why this is the long version has to do with the way the West Virginia—Virginia line relates to the trail. When the AT goes South out of Harper’s Ferry it heads uphill to Loudoun Heights, where both the trail and West Virginia—Virginia line follow the ridge crest for 17 or so miles. We took the perspective that the challenge was not over until the trail fully went into Virginia, just to the North of Snicker’s Gap.
    Another version of the challenge assumes that one endpoint is the state line at the top of Loudoun Heights; this would make the challenge 46.1 miles. Both this point and the more Southerly state line near Snicker’s Gap are marked with state line signs.
    There is a third version of the Four-State Challenge, which is the one that some thru-hikers attempt. This 54.9 mile hike is from the last shelter in Pennsylvania to the first shelter in Virginia, or vice versa. This one is a bit different since most likely a hiker going from Deer Lick Shelters to David Lesser Shelter would do so with a full backpack.
    I suppose that of the few things that people agree about on the Four-State Challenge is that it occurs within a 24-hour period.
    My hiking partner used a GPS app on his smartwatch to track the miles, but lost GPS signal around the Pogo Campsite. When he gets a chance to review how the GPS accounted for those gaps I will post the mileage. Usually these sort of things have trouble accounting for switchbacks, but
    I will also post an entry on trail journals when I get back from the Gathering.

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    Was he french?

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    Sounds like quite a hike! I attempted the more traditional 46 mile version SOBO a few years ago and bailed at around 43 miles before the climb out of Harper's Ferry. Would love to head back to it next year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Highland Goat View Post
    Over the years there has been some debate about what the Four-State Challenge actually consists of. Yesterday I hiked the long version with a marathoner fried of mine, in about 20 hours. The 2018 data book says this route from the Pennsylvania—Maryland line to West Virginia—Virginia line is 58.3 miles. When you account for the walk along Pen-Mar Road to the Pennsylvania—Maryland line and the hike from the West Virginia—Virginia line up to Bear’s Den, where we camped, this totals 61.8 miles.
    The reason why this is the long version has to do with the way the West Virginia—Virginia line relates to the trail. When the AT goes South out of Harper’s Ferry it heads uphill to Loudoun Heights, where both the trail and West Virginia—Virginia line follow the ridge crest for 17 or so miles. We took the perspective that the challenge was not over until the trail fully went into Virginia, just to the North of Snicker’s Gap.
    Another version of the challenge assumes that one endpoint is the state line at the top of Loudoun Heights; this would make the challenge 46.1 miles. Both this point and the more Southerly state line near Snicker’s Gap are marked with state line signs.
    There is a third version of the Four-State Challenge, which is the one that some thru-hikers attempt. This 54.9 mile hike is from the last shelter in Pennsylvania to the first shelter in Virginia, or vice versa. This one is a bit different since most likely a hiker going from Deer Lick Shelters to David Lesser Shelter would do so with a full backpack.
    I suppose that of the few things that people agree about on the Four-State Challenge is that it occurs within a 24-hour period.
    My hiking partner used a GPS app on his smartwatch to track the miles, but lost GPS signal around the Pogo Campsite. When he gets a chance to review how the GPS accounted for those gaps I will post the mileage. Usually these sort of things have trouble accounting for switchbacks, but
    I will also post an entry on trail journals when I get back from the Gathering.
    thats what i consider it to be. seems to be a minority opinion but glad i'm not alone.

    congrats on succeeding, i dont think its anything ill ever be trying.

  5. #5

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    When did "Challenges" become a thing? I heard a lot of noise about it this year out west, like "when you do your 50 mile challenge" or "this section is a good time to do your mcdonalds challenge" etc. When did thruhiking become an endurance sport?

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    It's just a thing, the 1/2 gallon challenge, 4 state challenge, etc... Something to look forward to when you're out there for days on end. Or if sectioning, a 61.8 mile day is quite an accomplishment. Different goals, different people is all.
    - Trail name: Thumper

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    I never knew there was a debate on what the four-state challenge was. It's always been to hike in four AT states within 24-hours. Going from Pen-Mar to Loudoun Heights satisfies this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    When did thruhiking become an endurance sport?
    Did you really just ask this????? And, you might want to notice what forum this post is in....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    I never knew there was a debate on what the four-state challenge was. It's always been to hike in four AT states within 24-hours. Going from Pen-Mar to Loudoun Heights satisfies this.
    any guidebook or website you look at for the AT will state the WV/VA is down by snicker's gap, not at loudon heights. thats also the only place ive ever seen a "welcome to VA sign"

    ive never seen a welcome to VA sign at loudon heights, though i have heard many state there is one.

  10. #10

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    One other issue that has come up occasionally is the location of the Pennsylvania – Maryland state line. A few people have contended that the sign and trail register monument are not accurately placed on the Mason – Dixon Line. Based of the GPS Data from Thursday, the difference is perhaps a meter or two, if there is a difference at all. Certainly it is less than a consumer grade GPS product can measure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Highland Goat View Post
    One other issue that has come up occasionally is the location of the Pennsylvania – Maryland state line. A few people have contended that the sign and trail register monument are not accurately placed on the Mason – Dixon Line. Based of the GPS Data from Thursday, the difference is perhaps a meter or two, if there is a difference at all. Certainly it is less than a consumer grade GPS product can measure.
    if memory serves correctly theres a road or stream crossing (or maybe its the railroad tracks) that is undisputedly in PA. i would just hike to there if i were worried

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    ive never seen a welcome to VA sign at loudon heights, though i have heard many state there is one.
    Since when does there *have* to be a welcome sign when entering a state? If there was such a silly requirement then there would many signs along the AT in TN/NC. For many, many miles you are going from one state to the other and back. I don't believe a northbound AT hikers sees a sign welcoming them to Tennessee when they climb to the ridge crest in Smokies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    Since when does there *have* to be a welcome sign when entering a state? If there was such a silly requirement then there would many signs along the AT in TN/NC. For many, many miles you are going from one state to the other and back. I don't believe a northbound AT hikers sees a sign welcoming them to Tennessee when they climb to the ridge crest in Smokies.
    you have a point, there isnt always anything indicating the change in state.

    that said though, my main point isnt about there being a sign or not. it is that the "AT in Virginia" starts down near snicker's gap, not at loudon heights.

    that point is not really arguable. check all the guidebooks and the like.

    heres the relevant screen capture from atdist.com, which is based on the AT data book, published by the ATC.
    Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 11.53.23 AM.png

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    Find a Mellow Mushroom.
    Done.
    Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    Find a Mellow Mushroom.
    Done.
    Wayne
    Sorry. Wrong thread.
    Wayne

  16. #16

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    Here is a photo of the sign on the state line from about 01:00 on Friday morning. The sign on Loudoun Heights in phrased similarly; although if I recall correctly it is nailed to a tree – rather than on a post.
    DSCF4560.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Highland Goat View Post
    Here is a photo of the sign on the state line from about 01:00 on Friday morning. The sign on Loudoun Heights in phrased similarly; although if I recall correctly it is nailed to a tree – rather than on a post.
    DSCF4560.jpg
    i have a pic somewhere i may look for, and ive uploaded it before to an earlier version of a thread like this, but the sign i am thinking of that i saw in 2012 said it was the state line and listed mileages to a few destinations. going south it listed the distance to the VA/TN border, going north it listed the distance to HF. it was a two sided sign, so it was a different sign depending on which direction you were facing.

    from what i remember figuring at the time based on the mileages, that sign was at the point where the VA section of the AT begins.

    since the four state challenge is an AT challenge, it only makes sense to me that to complete you need to walk in part of what is officially VA AT

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    if memory serves correctly theres a road or stream crossing (or maybe its the railroad tracks) that is undisputedly in PA. i would just hike to there if i were worried
    The AT crosses Pen Mar Road on a hairpin turn, about a quarter north of the state line; which may be what you are thinking of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    you have a point, there isnt always anything indicating the change in state.

    that said though, my main point isnt about there being a sign or not. it is that the "AT in Virginia" starts down near snicker's gap, not at loudon heights.

    that point is not really arguable. check all the guidebooks and the like.

    heres the relevant screen capture from atdist.com, which is based on the AT data book, published by the ATC.
    Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 11.53.23 AM.png
    It is my understanding that the AT first hits VA a couple of miles south of Harper's Ferry, and then shifts numerous times between VA and WV for close to 20 miles near Snicker's Gap.

    For WV/VA similar to NC/TN, but to a lesser extent, it is ambiguous as to when an official transition should be counted. The ATDist calculator picks the 20 mile point near Snicker's Gap because it would be downright silly to mark 550+ miles of VA/WV, but it is helpful to distinguish a broader section as part of WV. And one could split hairs with TN/NC so as to have NC, then NC/TN, then TN, although the last transition has had heated debate too (it crosses a few meters into NC several miles after the commonly viewed last exit of NC).

    Even with the WV/VA transition near Snicker's Gap, there is another place much further south (near Rice Field Shelter) where the trail walks the VA/WV line that is generally counted as just VA.

    For the four state challenge, one can clearly set foot in four states starting a couple of miles south of Harper's Ferry and proceeding just past Pen Mar.

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    For anyone interested, here is a link showing the AT crossing into WV near Rice Field Shelter...

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/37...837!4d-80.7341

    This is in the southern half of VA with regards to AT mileage.

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