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Thread: Itís Done!!!

  1. #21
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    I have 319 miles left--from Pinkham Notch to Katahdin. I started 6/18/16. All of my hikes in CT, NJ, PA, MD, W.VA, VA, TN (except the Smokies), NC, and GA have been on weekends. My longest section was 156 miles from Williamstown, MA to Hanover, NH. My next section is in three weeks--from Pinkham Notch to Stratton, ME. I have hiked new miles on the AT 68 times. I've re-hiked most of PA, all of MD, and Northern VA several times but I don't count those. Every blaze.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    If you don't mind me asking, what was your single longest section?

    I'm curious because most people that finish either thru-hike or else attempt a thru-hike and finish in subsequent years. I don't often hear of people that start out section hiking that wind up finishing the whole trail. And generally those that do finish the whole trail include some very long stretches in their section hikes.

    In my case, my longest single section has been 50 miles and I have completed around 1200 miles. If I do finish, it will likely involve at least one usually long (for me) section.

    I posed this question before, but I'm curious what the record will be for the "shortest longest section" for someone who has finished the trail.

    For example, if your longest section is 100 miles and another person finishes the trail whose longest section is 75 miles, that person would have a "shorter longest section" than you. I doubt this will ever be a record people will compete to attain, but I'm still curious as to what is the record for the "shortest longest section" for someone who has completed the trail.

  2. #22

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    Well done!!!

  3. #23
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    CONGRATS Berserker! I also took 13 years, from 2003 to 2017 (that's 14 years, but one year couldn't hike due to an injury).

    Welcome to the club!
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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  4. #24
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    If you don't mind me asking, what was your single longest section?

    I'm curious because most people that finish either thru-hike or else attempt a thru-hike and finish in subsequent years. I don't often hear of people that start out section hiking that wind up finishing the whole trail. And generally those that do finish the whole trail include some very long stretches in their section hikes.
    My longest section was actually the final one at 114.5 miles. The next 2 longest ones were in VT (2010) at 113.2 miles and ME (2018) at 105.9 miles. My shortest section was 13.7 miles in VA (2019).

    I started doing the sections with a good buddy, and that in and of itself is a great story. I'm not too sure many friends have completed the entire AT in sections together, so it's probably a rarity. It worked out because we get along real well, have similar life situations (families and full time jobs), and our personalities complement each other so we typically don't want to kill each other after a few days out on the trail.

    We started the section hiking not necessarily focused on actually finishing, but rather doing some of it and seeing where things went. We both happen to be goal oriented, and as the mileage starting adding up we got more and more obsessed with actually finishing. We averaged about 170 miles per year, which included the inaugural year of 2007 that only had one 25 mile section in it, and 2013 where we did one 52 mile section and then did the JMT instead of the normal yearly long section. So most years were closer to 200 miles. Our official trail mileage was 2,183.4 miles based on the length of the sections at the time we hiked them.

    I have a totally different perspective on things now at 46 than when I started at 34. I could also tell a bunch of funny stories about the section hikes and how things evolved, but I'll save that for another time. What I will say is that section hiking the entire AT over a period of several years is quite an endeavor and requires sacrificing a lot of time including time to get in shape and vacation time, not to mention the added cost. I am very thankful I have an understanding wife, and she is very happy I'm finally done .
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  5. #25
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Congratulations Berserker!
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  6. #26
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    Thanks for the info. At 114.5 miles, I'm noting that as the "shortest longest section" record until I hear otherwise.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by joefryfry View Post
    I used to have thru-hiker envy, but any more, I find it more interesting to talk to section hikers because there's more of a variety of stories on how it gets done. My longest section of 6 was 126 miles and it was very memorable. I started out as a section hiker and after doing the Presidential Range, I dont think I would want to do it in a thru-hike. I may thru the lower half when I retire depending on when that is. All my sections have been Front Royal northward.
    I think I prefer section hiking, even if that one day means a fairly long section. Thru-hiking requires one of two things I find distasteful. (1) Speed at the risk of not feeling like you can enjoy a nice location or (2) Starting/finishing with risk of very cold weather. Still I feel the lure of indulging in a substantially long hike (longer than I've been able to do).

    As far as thru-hikers, I don't envy them and I'm also not awed by their accomplishment. They're on a long vacation. Mostly very decent people and pleasant to interact with, but the act of hiking for 6 months is not any kind of status booster.

    BTW: All my sections have been PA and south. If you've done the Presidential Range, I believe you have the hardest part done. But the south of Front Royal will be a harder than the mid-Atlantic area.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    I think I prefer section hiking, even if that one day means a fairly long section. Thru-hiking requires one of two things I find distasteful. (1) Speed at the risk of not feeling like you can enjoy a nice location or (2) Starting/finishing with risk of very cold weather. Still I feel the lure of indulging in a substantially long hike (longer than I've been able to do).

    As far as thru-hikers, I don't envy them and I'm also not awed by their accomplishment. They're on a long vacation. Mostly very decent people and pleasant to interact with, but the act of hiking for 6 months is not any kind of status booster.

    BTW: All my sections have been PA and south. If you've done the Presidential Range, I believe you have the hardest part done. But the south of Front Royal will be a harder than the mid-Atlantic area.
    Don't get me wrong, thru hikes are epic and I would like to do one, but I dont think my body would be able to take the abuse. I have about half of the technical 200 done, and should have those done in the next two years.
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    Finishing the AT sometime in 2037.

  9. #29
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    As far as thru-hikers, I don't envy them and I'm also not awed by their accomplishment. They're on a long vacation. Mostly very decent people and pleasant to interact with, but the act of hiking for 6 months is not any kind of status booster.
    It's funny because throughout my section hiking odyssey I went full circle on my opinion of the thru hikers. When I first started I dreamed of meeting them and swooned at their feet as they told me wild stories of their mountain conquests. Then when I got about halfway mileage wise I started to think that maybe they were doing the AT the "easy way" and was not so impressed, plus I realized that they were annoying and stank. Finally in the last couple of years I was just like "D@mnit" every time one of those feral looking foul smelling heaps of hiker trash would roll into camp...I say all this in tongue and cheek of course .

    But in all seriousness as with every demographic there are good and bad thrus. I have met a bunch of great ones, and I have also met the party crowd. The interesting thing I found though is that in the last couple of years up in ME the vast majority of the thrus I talked to were as impressed or more impressed with my accomplishment than theirs. That's when I really gained a deeper understanding of exactly what I had accomplished in coming back year after year to finish. So one of the many facets of the final section that was so awesome was talking with thrus on Katahdin, and exchanging congratulations while being in equal awe of each others accomplishment.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  10. #30
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I've found that thru and section hiking each have their own set of unique challenges. I don't think one is better or easier than the other. It's just a matter of life circumstance dictating how we each complete the AT.

    Did you ever get the impression from others, mostly non-hikers, that you're "just" a section hiker? I've noticed that the majority of folks out to help hikers with trail magic or rides are intending to help thru-hikers specifically. I've gotten enough "oh"'s after telling people that I'm a section-hiker that I now tend to turn down any offers from folks.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  11. #31
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Congrats Berserker!!! I love it every time I hear about a section hiker finishing! It's inspiring in the same way as someone who retires after working the same job for 30+ years.

    Another data point: I've done 11 section hikes so far ranging from 73 to 180 miles, passing (to my knowledge) every white blaze from Springer to Pen-Mar in order NOBO. Got another 150+ miler planned this fall which will leave me with slightly less than 1,000 miles to go.

    I'll echo Berserker's comments on thrus. For the first 500 miles I did all my hikes in the fall (to avoid the NOBO bubble) and I was always in awe when I saw the SOBO thrus flying by on their 20+ mile days. More recently I've done some spring sections in VA and had a great time sharing stories with the NOBOs who now have hiked the same distance I have. This fall, once I get past the halfway point I'll have smug feeling that I've finished more miles than even the SOBOs. But it doesn't matter, really - at some point you realize there's not much difference between experienced section hikers and thrus who have finished 1000+ miles (except maybe fitness level). You're both out there working toward the same goal and more importantly doing something you enjoy.
    It's all good in the woods.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserker View Post


    It's funny because throughout my section hiking odyssey I went full circle on my opinion of the thru hikers. When I first started I dreamed of meeting them and swooned at their feet as they told me wild stories of their mountain conquests. Then when I got about halfway mileage wise I started to think that maybe they were doing the AT the "easy way" and was not so impressed, plus I realized that they were annoying and stank. Finally in the last couple of years I was just like "D@mnit" every time one of those feral looking foul smelling heaps of hiker trash would roll into camp...I say all this in tongue and cheek of course .

    But in all seriousness as with every demographic there are good and bad thrus. I have met a bunch of great ones, and I have also met the party crowd. The interesting thing I found though is that in the last couple of years up in ME the vast majority of the thrus I talked to were as impressed or more impressed with my accomplishment than theirs. That's when I really gained a deeper understanding of exactly what I had accomplished in coming back year after year to finish. So one of the many facets of the final section that was so awesome was talking with thrus on Katahdin, and exchanging congratulations while being in equal awe of each others accomplishment.
    Favorite Trip / Favorite Section???
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  13. #33
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    Did you ever get the impression from others, mostly non-hikers, that you're "just" a section hiker? I've noticed that the majority of folks out to help hikers with trail magic or rides are intending to help thru-hikers specifically. I've gotten enough "oh"'s after telling people that I'm a section-hiker that I now tend to turn down any offers from folks.
    Yes I have met many folks where the inflection in their voice changed when they found out I was "only" a section hiker. Most people doing feeds I ran into were cool with sectioners though, and I partook in several of them.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  14. #34
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Favorite Trip / Favorite Section???
    HmmmmmmÖexcellent question, and a hard one to answer. There were many where the weather was perfect and things went off without a hitch, and one would think those were my favorite. However, the funny thing is I don't even remember those. I usually have to go back to my journal and notes to even remember any detail of ever having done those sections.

    The most memorable ones are always the ones that break your will. VT in 2010...it rained at least part of the day for most of the 10 days I was out. I can still vividly remember parts of that one including lots of mud, how it seemed to always be 57 degrees, the pouring rain on the Old Job trail re-route and having to shorten the trip due to planning too much mileage. NH in 2016 going into the Whites...4 days in I realized I was doing way too much mileage and had to get off trail for a couple of days...I can still feel what it was like when I collapsed into that bed in the AMC Highland Center and literally could not move for several hours. GA in 2008, it was like near 100 degrees for about half of the trip and I was coated in salt from the many cycles of sweating and drying and sweating again.

    So I guess the short answer is I can't really pick a favorite because the low key ones were fun and relaxing, but it was the beatdowns that provided the stories I tell people and periodically reflect on.

    As for favorite due to scenery, again I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Some highlights for me (as in what looked good when I passed through there off the top of my head) were as follows:
    • Approach trail and Springer
    • Wayah Bald fire tower
    • Clouds and fog North of Newfound Gap in GSMNP
    • White Top/Mt. Rogers area
    • Inversion in SNP
    • Hiking into Harpers Ferry
    • Harriman SP
    • Mt. Greylock
    • Clarendon Gorge
    • The Whites and in particular Mt. Madison
    • The Goose peaks
    • Mahoosuc Notch
    • Baldpate
    • Katahdin
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  15. #35

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    When I began my sections, I would introduce myself as "just" a section hiker. My third trip, NY/NJ, I met a trail maintainer who told me to drop the "just." He reminded me that the original intent of the trail was recreational hiking for the many people who lived close to it. Later in my travels, I found myself telling thrus that thru-hiking seemed much harder than sectioning. Many, if not most, disagreed. There wasn't any animosity, ever. Most hikers are just glad to be hiking, whatever the particulars.

  16. #36

  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthN View Post
    Well done! Congratulations!
    Indeed. Congratulations on completion.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiptoe View Post
    When I began my sections, I would introduce myself as "just" a section hiker. My third trip, NY/NJ, I met a trail maintainer who told me to drop the "just." He reminded me that the original intent of the trail was recreational hiking for the many people who lived close to it. Later in my travels, I found myself telling thrus that thru-hiking seemed much harder than sectioning. Many, if not most, disagreed. There wasn't any animosity, ever. Most hikers are just glad to be hiking, whatever the particulars.
    Very similar experiences here.
    I have seen the subtle looks on thru hiker's faces change from one of superiority when they thought I was just a section hiker to that of respect or camaraderie when they realize I have hiked just as far (if not farther) than they have; that I have hiked all the trail up to his point - and some sections twice.

    Now, I don't say I'm just a section hiker. People often ask a group of hikers if they're thru hiking, I'll often say I'm on the ten year plan.

  19. #39

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    Well done.

    I'm 200 miles into my section hiking NOBO.
    My next pick up spot is Fontana Dam.

    Any gear recommends?

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiptoe View Post
    When I began my sections, I would introduce myself as "just" a section hiker. My third trip, NY/NJ, I met a trail maintainer who told me to drop the "just." He reminded me that the original intent of the trail was recreational hiking for the many people who lived close to it. Later in my travels, I found myself telling thrus that thru-hiking seemed much harder than sectioning. Many, if not most, disagreed. There wasn't any animosity, ever. Most hikers are just glad to be hiking, whatever the particulars.
    Baltimore Jack would have disagreed. I was fortunate enough to sit down with him once for a conversation, and he felt section hiking is much tougher since you had to work to get your trail legs every trip. He should have known with 8 thru hikes and hundreds of section hikes.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
    Richard Ewell, CSA General


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