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  1. #41
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    I've been sectioning since June, 2016 and have 2,003.8 miles done (plus a lot of repeat sections, but I don't count those). During thru-hiking season I've met a wide range of hikers--some travel in tramilies and interact very little with anyone, let alone 'just a section hiker.' Some will ask me what I'm doing, and upon learning that I'm section hiking, will stop interacting with me. And some will treat me just like anyone else. The best thru hikers were those I met in Maine this September. I guess they figured if I had hiked just as many miles as them there really wasn't much of a difference, and frankly acknowledged how hard it was to hike that section without trail legs. Anyway, hikers are all different. Anyone who takes on the AT deserves respect, whether it's for a day, week, month, or six months.

  2. #42
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserker View Post
    And for the record, it's pretty funny how section hikers are viewed. You will get a lot of "oh your just a section hiker" type inflections when you tell people that you are section hiking, especially from thrus early in their hikes, locals and weekenders.
    I've experienced this myself. It seems the "oh you're just" mentality is inversely related to miles spent on the trail.
    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.

  3. #43
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Funny, when I'm doing long section hikes and hiking in the midst of a bunch of wanna-be thru hikers, at first, yeah, they are kind of aloof, for the most part. But give 'em a couple days and they have always come around and "adopted" me into their little clique, not that this was important. An exception to this is way up north, where the groups finishing the trail are really burnt out, it seems, they just wanna get done.

    Just semantics I suppose, but until a hiker finishes a long trail he is NOT a thru hiker of that trail, nor is he/she ever likely to be one, given the odds we all know (unless we're talking well along the trail). We all know this, and I'm being picky on semantics, I know.

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenBear View Post
    Section hiker, thru-hiker, Triple Crown hiker -- it doesn't matter.
    Indeed, on the Trail, off the Trail; it doesn't matter -- "don't be a self-centered jerk" covers about 90% of it.
    I put no importance or distinctions between thruhikers or section hikers or even dayhikers. We're either outside backpacking or we're not. We're either backpacking on this foot trail or that foot trail---whether the AT or the Bartram or the BMT or in Cohutta or the Smokies or wherever else. "Are you a thruhiker/section hiker/dayhiker" etc??? "No, I'm a Backpacker."

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Many hikers have to label themselves and then force knowledge of that identity on others.
    The only label I'm interested in and which has any meaning for me is whether that person is a Backpacker and is outdoors---or is not outdoors and stuck indoors.
    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Etiquette should be the same for everyone. Mostly it applies to shelter stays or when in close proximity to others.
    Keep quiet when it's dark is rule #1. If you snore like a banshee, please stay out of shelters. If you must pack up before dawn, get well prepared the night before so you can do it quickly and away from the shelter. Not at the picnic table right in front. Or tent.
    The word "etiquette" is a strange word to come up on a backpacking website but we're dealing with the swarms of people on the AT and the crowded AT shelter system. So I guess Etiquette is relevant, assuming it means our behavior with other people. Then again, when I pull a backpacking trip on the AT I always camp between trail shelters mainly to avoid other hikers in a camping situation. In this way I don't concern myself with "etiquette". Out of sight (away from shelters), Out of Mind.

    And it's funny to think AT shelters have "rules" when in fact they are rat boxes open to anyone at any time for nearly any activity. Squatting in one gives you no rights whatsoever.

    Beyond all this, I'm more interested in the etiquette we display with trailside copperheads and rattlesnakes and with our campfires and littering and waste disposal.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Then again, when I pull a backpacking trip on the AT I always camp between trail shelters mainly to avoid other hikers in a camping situation. In this way I don't concern myself with "etiquette". Out of sight (away from shelters), Out of Mind.

    And it's funny to think AT shelters have "rules" when in fact they are rat boxes open to anyone at any time for nearly any activity. Squatting in one gives you no rights whatsoever.
    I echo Tipi Walter's sentiments regarding categorizing hikers, though sometimes I feel in the minority. Heck, I even saw animosity between SOBOs and NOBOs. Some people just need to give it a rest.

    I, too, much prefer camping away from shelters and established campgrounds. However, a large percentage of the trail (mainly in the northeast) requires hikers to camp in designated sites. I'd be interested in hearing from Walter (and others) as to what approach they take in those areas. I will refrain from giving details on my way of dealing with it.

    Etiquette; yes, there is a need for it. For example, if you are a NOBO thru hiker it may be of little consequence to you who yields right of way since you might go days without encountering a SOBO hiker. But if you are hiking south from HF in April, at some point you will be encountering 30 to 60 hikers/day every day. It gets a little old being run off the trail by hikers who do not know (or do not care) that uphill has the right of way. Not saying it wouldn't be the same situation if there was a hand full of NOBOs facing a huge mass of SOBOs.

    Common courtesy can be in short supply at times. If it is dusk and there are two tents set up in an isolated corner of a campground, it is probably NOT a good idea for a group of hikers to set up a campfire right next to them and howl at the moon into the wee hours! Yet, it happens. What really burns me (sorry for the pun) are nicotine addicts. I get the whole "live and let live" thing, but that philosophy is a two way street. If hikers want to partake, that is their business. Don't assume I enjoy or even tolerate your second hand smoke.

  6. #46
    Registered User kestral's Avatar
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    Don't assume I enjoy or even tolerate your second hand smoke.[/QUOTE]

    Totally relate to this. Cigarette smoke gives me migraines which can last for over a day. Thatís a major reason why I avoid designated camping areas.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Just semantics I suppose, but until a hiker finishes a long trail he is NOT a thru hiker of that trail, nor is he/she ever likely to be one, given the odds we all know (unless we're talking well along the trail). We all know this, and I'm being picky on semantics, I know.
    I've always enjoyed this philosophical conundrum, one is not a "thru hiker" until they have hiked the entire trail, nor can they be a thru hiker after they have completed the trail as the "title" becomes past tense.

  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    I've always enjoyed this philosophical conundrum, one is not a "thru hiker" until they have hiked the entire trail, nor can they be a thru hiker after they have completed the trail as the "title" becomes past tense.
    You are either attempting a thru hike or you may be a former thru hiker. But many did say, ďIím thru hiking.Ē This would be correct but it sounds a little silly during the first 500 miles where the failure rate is high and the accomplishment at that point is still low.

    Not once this year did I hear someone say they are a thru hiker. But many were thru hiking.

  9. #49
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    You are either attempting a thru hike or you may be a former thru hiker. But many did say, ďIím thru hiking.Ē
    My little quip, admittedly not very funny, but at least my wife smiled when I said it, when hiking north on the AT, passing day hikers going south, many would ask me "Are you through hiking?" I would always respond "No, not yet, still at it, but if I have another bad day, yeah, I'll be through hiking !"

  10. #50

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    Saying your a thru hiker simply indicates your goal is to hike the whole thing in one go and in for the long haul. Whether you do or not is debatable.

    I'm been answering the "are you thru hiking?" question for years by saying "nope, not yet".
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slumgum View Post
    Etiquette; yes, there is a need for it. For example, if you are a NOBO thru hiker it may be of little consequence to you who yields right of way since you might go days without encountering a SOBO hiker. But if you are hiking south from HF in April, at some point you will be encountering 30 to 60 hikers/day every day. It gets a little old being run off the trail by hikers who do not know (or do not care) that uphill has the right of way. Not saying it wouldn't be the same situation if there was a hand full of NOBOs facing a huge mass of SOBOs.
    That always seems a bit backward for a couple reasons:

    First being that it is usually easier for someone going uphill to stop than for someone going downhill (simple gravity rules) and second being that many, if not most times those going uphill would rather have the short break versus having to keep moving to get past those going the opposite way, particularly on the steeper sections of trail.

    Not sure how it came to be that way rather than the opposite.

  12. #52

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    I also always felt the uphill right of way was silly. I always stop for down hillers. I was going to stop anyway.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyGr View Post
    That always seems a bit backward for a couple reasons:

    First being that it is usually easier for someone going uphill to stop than for someone going downhill (simple gravity rules) and second being that many, if not most times those going uphill would rather have the short break versus having to keep moving to get past those going the opposite way, particularly on the steeper sections of trail.

    Not sure how it came to be that way rather than the opposite.
    To my way of thinking it is all about momentum. Yes, it is easier to stop when going uphill, but it is also much harder to get going again. Like I stated, if you are in the directional minority, having to stop multiple times going uphill and then restart adds up. Conversely, downhill it is a piece of cake to get going again since you have gravity in your favor.

    Also, hikers tend to focus on the trail right in front of them. That means uphill hikers tend to be much slower in recognizing an approaching hiker especially in rough, steep terrain. Consequently they have less time to find a wide place to get off the trail. Can't tell you how many times an uphill hiker was startled as they passed me since they didn't even see me until they were right next to where I had stepped off the trail to let them pass.

    If you need a break, you can stop any time. No need to wait for an oncoming hiker as a "reason" to rest. However, if this is the way you want to operate, please, please don't wait until the uphill hiker has pulled off the trail to decide you are going to take a break. It is inconsiderate to have someone make the effort to follow standard trail protocol and then ignore it. No reason for BOTH hikers to stop.

    I did not write the rules of trail etiquette, but the "right of way" policy is well established.

  14. #54

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    Yielding right of way is a fairly old and common social contract that is observed in situations that involve how foot, road, or nautical traffic should behave. The "rule" tends to yield right of way to the slower and/or less maneuverable traffic, which in this instance would be the uphill hiker versus the downhill hiker. Uphill hiking generally is slow, has limited visibility, and typically finds a rhythm or momentum pace for the section of trail that will carry the hiker through the climb. Once the pace or momentum is broken, it can be difficult to reestablish that rhythm or pace quickly, making the climb that much more difficult.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, the differences between the uphill and downhill hiker are significant. When approaching an uphill hiker, the downhill hiker has the advantage of speed, maneuverability, the ability to more quickly see places to pause, and can usually reach them with undue effort for the most part. The uphill hiker is typically focused on the 6-foot of trail immediately in front of them, with occasional glances uphill to verify blazes and routing of the trail. I have to admit being startled when in the "zone", slogging out a long climb to see boots just off to my side as I pass someone I didn't notice was there. Though some people prefer not to pause their downhill descent and will shoulder their way past the uphill hiker regardless of terrain and room to pass, most people recognize right of way and will stop to allow the uphiller to pass.

    I always acknowledge when people yield to me when I am going uphill, though sometimes its just a nod when there is little breath to spare for a verbal exchange, it is something that should be recognized and reinforced.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Yielding right of way is a fairly old and common social contract that is observed in situations that involve how foot, road, or nautical traffic should behave. The "rule" tends to yield right of way to the slower and/or less maneuverable traffic, which in this instance would be the uphill hiker versus the downhill hiker. Uphill hiking generally is slow, has limited visibility, and typically finds a rhythm or momentum pace for the section of trail that will carry the hiker through the climb. Once the pace or momentum is broken, it can be difficult to reestablish that rhythm or pace quickly, making the climb that much more difficult.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, the differences between the uphill and downhill hiker are significant. When approaching an uphill hiker, the downhill hiker has the advantage of speed, maneuverability, the ability to more quickly see places to pause, and can usually reach them with undue effort for the most part. The uphill hiker is typically focused on the 6-foot of trail immediately in front of them, with occasional glances uphill to verify blazes and routing of the trail. I have to admit being startled when in the "zone", slogging out a long climb to see boots just off to my side as I pass someone I didn't notice was there. Though some people prefer not to pause their downhill descent and will shoulder their way past the uphill hiker regardless of terrain and room to pass, most people recognize right of way and will stop to allow the uphiller to pass.

    I always acknowledge when people yield to me when I am going uphill, though sometimes its just a nod when there is little breath to spare for a verbal exchange, it is something that should be recognized and reinforced.
    So well said, as usual. The term "social contract" is an important concept to grasp in any community whether it be of hikers, neighborhood, town, or nation. Another wording might be the "golden rule". It is what binds us together in our attempts to cohabit in peace with mutual respect.
    humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy

  16. #56
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I don't hold to any right-of-way rules on the trail. Whether uphill or down, if I have a good pulloff I can get to before the other person, I'll step aside, or I expect them to if they have a good spot. It's always worked for me.
    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.

  17. #57

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    9 out of 10 times you make eye contact with the other hiker and the strategy for passing each other is quickly realized through body language. Uphill hikers seem to want to yield at about the same rate as downhill hikers. Yielding comes down to this:

    1) When there is space each hiker maintains pace and moves to the side
    2) The tired or slower hiker tends to prefer to yield if required
    3) the faster hiker will step off the trail and around you if you do not yield, all while maintaining pace

    Very rarely is it ever an issue. Thereís really a tendency to be too polite, where both hikers waste time trying to yield.

    More experienced hikers sense what to do and they do it efficiently. Day hikers who rarely hike will sometimes be oblivious that someone is trying to maintain pace and that it only takes a second to stay out of each otherís way.

  18. #58
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    9 out of 10 times you make eye contact with the other hiker and the strategy for passing each other is quickly realized through body language. Uphill hikers seem to want to yield at about the same rate as downhill hikers. Yielding comes down to this:

    1) When there is space each hiker maintains pace and moves to the side
    2) The tired or slower hiker tends to prefer to yield if required
    3) the faster hiker will step off the trail and around you if you do not yield, all while maintaining pace

    Very rarely is it ever an issue. Thereís really a tendency to be too polite, where both hikers waste time trying to yield.

    More experienced hikers sense what to do and they do it efficiently. Day hikers who rarely hike will sometimes be oblivious that someone is trying to maintain pace and that it only takes a second to stay out of each otherís way.
    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    I don't hold to any right-of-way rules on the trail. Whether uphill or down, if I have a good pulloff I can get to before the other person, I'll step aside, or I expect them to if they have a good spot. It's always worked for me.
    Yeah, agree with both of these things; when going downhill, I'm always prepared to step aside, but it rarely seems to work out that way, nearly always the uphill hiker steps aside first, seemingly to take a break.

    It really is all about eye contact and body language, just remember to be courteous and thank the other party for letting you pass, but at the same time, don't get butt-hurt if the other party doesn't thank you for you letting them pass.

    This is easy stuff, never should make for any heated arguments IMHO.

  19. #59
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    I don't see much sense in rules for right of way. As others said, it's more about who has a good spot to step off, eye contact, etc.

  20. #60
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    i don't stop goin' up hill or down. i simply step off the trail and walk the few steps on the side of the trail then step back on

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