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  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRichardCranium View Post
    Okay, here's another question: If it is all about attitude & perseverance, then why has the % completion rate changed?

    It used to be that of those that attempted an AT thru-hike, only 10% would make it. Successful thru-hikers were called "10 percenters."

    But according to the AT conservancy figures, in the last 10-15 years it seems that closer to 20% make it.

    Why is that?
    I suspect (and again, this is just my opinion) that to a large degree it has to do with people submitting for certificates who have not hiked the entire trail. I've met an awful lot of people in WV, MD, and PA who will freely admit to skipping sections in Virginia and are still comfortable with referring to what they're doing as a thru-hike and themselves as thru-hikers. I suspect these folks are equally comfortable with submitting their hikes to ATC as thru-hikes.
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  2. #62
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    Jester's opinion is one hundred per cent correct.

    Most of the folks in recent years who have reported a completed thru-hike to Harpers Ferry have not, in fact, hiked the entire Trail.

    The ATC's "completion rate" figures, especially in the years that they approach 25%, are a joke. I have long suspected that the actual completion rate is well under five, and probably closer to 1-3 per cent of the folks who start at one end or another with the avowed intention of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.

    (I will now be bombarded with outraged posts from people who haven't hiked much demanding where I get my figures from. The answer is from hiking with, spending time with, and observing countless thousands of long-distance A.T. hikers over the the past 15 years. And the simple truth is that by the time folks get to Maine or New Hampshire, just about everyone has skipped something somewhere along the line. Sorry, folks, but that's a simple truth, like it or not).

  3. #63
    Registered User DrRichardCranium's Avatar
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    But why would there be more of that (lying about completing a thru-hike) just in the last 10-15 years?

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by PSy BaSS View Post
    there is a special breed of people out there that don't even realise what it is about them, that they can complete anything they set their minds to
    People have described me this way, but I don't think I'm special in any way at all. I think I'm sort of a loser. Walking a long way translates into nothing of any value out in the "real" (mundane) world. I can put up with pain and mosquitoes and walking 30 miles a day but I can't seem to tolerate office politics. I love how on the trail you can just walk away from people who bug you.

    On the PCT I think a true, perfect thru-hike is pretty rare. There always seems to be some part of the trail that's closed. I didn't thru-hike, and there is still a small segment I have not completed, but I still feel a huge sense of accomplishment for what I did. I do not try to pass it off as a thru-hike, but I do say I completed the hike because as far as I'm concerned, I completed MY hike, my HYOH hike.

    I kind of resent when people call not finishing the trail in one year a failure, as in when people ask "why do so many people fail to complete the trail?". If you just sit around your whole life saying "someday..." and then never do it, that's a failure. Starting the trail and then finding out it's going to take you more than one year to complete it is not a failure.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRichardCranium View Post
    But why would there be more of that (lying about completing a thru-hike) just in the last 10-15 years?
    Maybe it is easier to lie now? In the past I had to request a form (via snailmail) and then mail it back, along with some sort of "proof"? Now I just fill out a web form? The former provides lots of opportunities for your conscious and/or laziness to catch up with you, the later does not.

    Just a thought....
    Yellow Jacket -- Words of Wisdom (tm) go here.

  6. #66
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    There would be more lying about it (without remote fear of embarassment) because our world and society have indeed changed in the past fifteen years.

    In the mid nineties, if people skipped chunks of the Trail or yellow-blazed, they kept this to themselves, and if it were publicly known, people thought less of them. So folks were pretty mum about this.

    Now, nobody cares, and people don't bother to keep such things secret.

    There is no shame anymore, and this goes for a lot of things.

    In short, Richard, things have indeed changed over the past few years, and I'll leave it up to individuals to decide whether things have changed for the better.
    Last edited by Alligator; 09-10-2009 at 16:08. Reason: Politics

  7. #67

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    A lot of people on whiteblaze are avid hikers, and therefore yes I think they'd have a better shot. But a lot of whiteblazers never get off the computer, they are getting their "experience" by reading other peoples post. I don't think they have a better shot. You gotta get out there and experience backpacking, there are only so many things you can learn from a computer!

  8. #68
    Registered User DrRichardCranium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post
    There would be more lying about it (without remote fear of embarassment) because our world and society have indeed changed in the past fifteen years.
    mm, I don't think I buy into that. It's the old "In the old days, people were better/more moral/honest etc." Usually BS.

    Not that I think people are so great now, but that people a few years back could be just as sleazy. 15 years isn't that long ago.

    Could there be other explanations too? Maybe there really ARE more people completing the trail, due to better gear & more info about how to do a thru-hike? Or maybe more people are actually bothering to submit the applications now?

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post
    There is no shame anymore, and this goes for a lot of things.
    Quote Originally Posted by DrRichardCranium View Post
    mm, I don't think I buy into that. It's the old "In the old days, people were better/more moral/honest etc." Usually BS.

    Not that I think people are so great now, but that people a few years back could be just as sleazy. 15 years isn't that long ago.

    Could there be other explanations too? Maybe there really ARE more people completing the trail, due to better gear & more info about how to do a thru-hike? Or maybe more people are actually bothering to submit the applications now?
    I'd normally agree with you, but we're not talking about thirty or forty years ago, we're talking about a noticeable change over a relatively short span of time. I can freely admit that I wasn't part of the hiking community prior to 2000, as Jack was. But I can say that even in 2000 it was considered shameful to skip sections, and something people kept to themselves. People who were known to have skipped, particularly people whom one seemed to see in town but never on the trail, were looked down upon.

    Now, one could make the argument that prior to the current era these folks skipped sections, kept it to themselves, and still submitted a thru-hike claim to ATC. On the other hand, I know of a number of hikers from 2000 who, even though they summitted Katahdin, did not consider themselves to have thru-hiked and never claimed it.

    Since my hike of the AT, I've probably talked to a couple of thousand "thru-hikers," and I can say that from my experience a surprisingly large number both a) considered themselves thru-hikers and b) openly talked about skipping sections. Most who did so didn't feel like they were "admitting" anything, and most did not seem to even recognize that the two things were incompatible.

    So I think that Jack is either right about the lack of shame, or there's a fundamental misunderstanding about what thru-hiking is, or perhaps it's been watered down to the point that it has no particular meaning to many.

    I'm certainly not the kind of person who could be described as a purist regarding long-distance hiking, as I frankly don't really care what other people choose to do. I was only offering my opinion about the rise in completion rates, and I suspect that the availability of online information has less to do with it than many think.
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  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post

    There is no shame anymore, and this goes for a lot of things.

    Like associating with Jester?
    Anything's within walking distance if you've got the time.
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  11. #71
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRichardCranium View Post
    Okay, here's another question: If it is all about attitude & perseverance, then why has the % completion rate changed?

    It used to be that of those that attempted an AT thru-hike, only 10% would make it. Successful thru-hikers were called "10 percenters."

    But according to the AT conservancy figures, in the last 10-15 years it seems that closer to 20% make it.

    Why is that?
    Could it be because the AT counts thru hikes and section hikes as the same thing, 2000 milers? So any section hiker that finishes the AT, can register as a 2000 miler. As time goes on, more and more people start sectioning, more and more will start finishing. Those finishing would obviously start increasing.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  12. #72

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    I'm debating whether to get a 2600 miler patch for the PCT. I hiked 3000 miles on the PCT, but there are a few miles I missed. I think it's an achievement to have hiked some of the least favored miles twice. But I probably won't get one just because I don't want to dilute others' achievement. I know what I did and am pretty darn proud and happy with it. I think I'd rather have a tattoo anyway.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  13. #73
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    Geez, guys, there's a tendency to over-intellectualize things here, and what we're talking about isn't that complicated.

    Once upon a time (and it was a lot less than 15 years ago, too) hikers didn't openly lie about this sort of thing, and it was considered kinda low rent and vulgar not only to lie about it, but also to DO what you were later lying about. But bottom line, people simply DIDN"T lie about it because they knew there was an onus and a certain ammount of shame in being known to lie about it. In short, people skipped chunks back then but they were a helluva lot more discreet about it.

    This is no longer the case.

    And sorry, as for people saying "This is BS, we're not talking about that many years ago, things cvan't have changed that much in so short a period of time, blah, blah....."

    Sorry. We're talking about something that you obviously DON'T know about, because anyone that was actively out hiking ten or fifteen years ago would know that everything Jester and I have commented on above is the truth. Most of today's "thru-hikers" haven't hiked the entire Trail, and their friends and contemporaries are perfectly aware of this. Nobody cares. But the fact remains, the annual "completion" rate these days is under five per cent.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post
    But the fact remains, the annual "completion" rate these days is under five per cent.

    Jack,

    I'm curious - how do you come up with this number? If it is a "fact", what hard data do you have to support it? I must admit, it is an interesting number.
    It's a great day to be alive !

  15. #75
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    the old days were no better than the new days information is quicker lets say someone here seen hiker x at damascus then 2 day laters someone sees hiker x at harpers ferry the logic would shown something stinks and it's not cowpoo. The internet makes catching the jumpers alot easier
    Would you be offended if I told you to
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  16. #76
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    Bigmac:

    Since you asked:

    I've spent an awful lot of time on the Trail since 1995.

    This includes seven consecutive thru-hikes from 1997-2003 and several thousand miles since.

    In the course of this, I've met thousands of the men and women who have been "long-distance" hiking on the A.T. since 1995. I've met them, hiked with them (often for long periods of time), I've seen them on the Trail, run into them in Trail towns, put up hundreds of them at my home.

    And very very few of them ever identify themselves as absolute hardcore Trail purists, i.e., virtually none of them in recent years would ever identify themselves this way. (And of course, if you'd spent significant time with these people, you'd know what they wre anyway, i.e. if they were lying about it, people hiking with them would know.

    Bottom line, Bigmac, is that by the time one arrives in NH or Maine, i.e. by the time one is 80 or 90% done, just about everyone has skipped something. The number of folks who started the Trail committed to hiking every mile and who have actually been at pains to do so, well that number is very small late in the trip. And by Katahdin, that number is tiny.

    The "hard data" you mentioned, Bigmac, is based on what I've seen from the folks I've met or hiked with, who constitute the majority of folks who've claimed thru-hiker status since 1995.

    And the hard data indicates that just about all of them skipped something somewhere along the line.

    Sorry, but a simple truth does not become questionable merely because it makes people uncomfortable.

  17. #77
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    I'll tell you, hiking sections is tough. Probably tougher than a thru, although I can't speak to that. I've run 2 marathons, 13 half marathons but nothing compares to a section and then having to go back to the world. Even after a long training run I go home to my family and a nice hot shower and a warm bed. But before and after a section, you deal with all the family reponsibilities, work, bills, house, taking and picking up the dogs from the kennel, pick up points on the trail and re-entering into a world much different than where you have been. Logistically, you have to plan all this out, if you're responsible. I would think that a thru would be much, much easier than a section. You just give it all up and walk. Maybe someday I'll find out for sure.

  18. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by A-Train View Post
    Like associating with Jester?
    Especially that. There was a time not too long ago when right-thinking individuals paid heed to the warnings of people who had never met me, and made sure not to associate themselves with me or those with whom I chose to associate.

    There was a time that the shame associated with being seen hanging out with the kind of person I was said to be was such that people made sure not to find out first hand what hanging out with me might be like.

    Thank God those days are over. It was getting lonely, or so I've been told.
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  19. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by leeki pole View Post
    I'll tell you, hiking sections is tough. Probably tougher than a thru, although I can't speak to that. I've run 2 marathons, 13 half marathons but nothing compares to a section and then having to go back to the world. Even after a long training run I go home to my family and a nice hot shower and a warm bed. But before and after a section, you deal with all the family reponsibilities, work, bills, house, taking and picking up the dogs from the kennel, pick up points on the trail and re-entering into a world much different than where you have been. Logistically, you have to plan all this out, if you're responsible. I would think that a thru would be much, much easier than a section. You just give it all up and walk. Maybe someday I'll find out for sure.
    I agree with quite a bit of this. I've often said that it must be tough to section hike, if only because by the time you really get your hiking legs under you, and just as you're getting really comfortable on the trail, it's time to go home.

    Plus, the dedication it takes to hike the entire trail over a number of years, sticking to it and going out year after year, is impressive.

    I suspect they're both very difficult, for different reasons.
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  20. #80

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    Jack bloviated....
    The "hard data" you mentioned, Bigmac, is based on what I've seen from the folks I've met or hiked with, who constitute the majority of folks who've claimed thru-hiker status since 1995

    Do you really believe this? Bob Peoples "might" be able to claim that but he is about it.

    Clyde

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