View Full Version : Section Hikers

Former Admin
09-10-2002, 04:47
Are there any Section Hikers in this forum or visiting this forum, this will give us a better idea of whose who.

Former Admin
09-10-2002, 04:51
Yes I know the question above seems a little silly considering there are quite a few section hikers here.

Yes I am a section hiker also and the majority of people that hike the Appalachian Trail are. There is a big mis-conception that only thru-hikers are the most knowledgable. Many section hikers have covered many more miles than some thru-hikers. Some section hikers might have 20 years of backpacking experience while some thru-hikers might just have the six months while they thru-hiked the trail. Many section hikers might have covered the same area of trail 20 times where as a thru-hiker might have been thru that area once or twice.

All im trying to point out here is that some section hikers have more experience than a thru-hiker and you should not dis-credit their opinons. I myself have only covered 200 miles of trail and I myself do not give out advice about things I don't know. I started this forum and this site because first of all I have a interest in the AT and wanted to provide a resource others could enjoy and second I also enjoy building websites in my spare time and I take pride and enjoy what I do.

(copied from old forum)

Hammock Hanger
09-10-2002, 06:26
I attempted a thru-hike in 01 and due to injury left after 1000 miles. I sttempted to finish it up this year and got in 840 miles till I wound up in the hospital with Lymes. So, in my mind I felt like a thru-hiker and still do, I'm really a section hiker. HH

09-10-2002, 09:33
I first hiked most of the New Jersey section of the AT in 1973 along with two other scouting mates at the tender age of 15. Several of us did 70-100 mile sections in the Mid-Atlantic states each spring break for the next few years. College summers were spent trying to earn money, so I didn't get back out for a long-distance hike until I graduated, when my future wife and I did Duncannon to Harpers Ferry (her first and last hike!). I did the Long Trail with my younger brother later that summer.

Career, relocation, graduate school and family interrupted my hiking adventures until the bug bit me again in 1999. Since then I've filled in a few gaps through planned section hikes and spur-of-the-moment day hikes when I go back east. I have now completed over 850 miles of the AT, stretching from Loft Mountain in Shenendoah National Park north to the White Mountains in New Hampshire (with the nagging exceptions of about a mile down the main street of Duncannon, 1.5 miles across the I-80 Delaware Water Gap bridge, and 19.2 miles from Unionville to Warwick Turnpike in north Jersey!).

Early on I was hiking just to get out in the woods and the AT was convenient. I recently decided to complete the entire AT as a new life goal, resulting in the tag line...

09-10-2002, 16:21
Just started backpacking; last month's Hot Springs trip was my
very first trip ever. I've gone hiking three times on the A.T.
since, in NC and MA. I've been daydreaming about thru-hiking,
but can't realistically see myself getting the time off to do
it unless I get downsized some year in the February-May time
frame. In any event, I won't let myself think seriously about
it until I've first successfully thru-hiked a shorter trail such
as the FLT.

SGT Rock
09-10-2002, 21:31
I'm a section hiker. the first section hike was in the late 70's. The longest was from Wesser to Springer plus the approach trail. I'll keep hitting sections until I finally get to thru-hike. Then I'll keep section hiking until I can no longer hike. Hopefully that is a long way off.

09-23-2002, 15:44
Count me as a section hiker too. Been hiking in New England for 28 years. Started section hiking the AT in 2001.
Have done VT, MA, and CT so far, all SOBO. I'm not counting all the times I happened
to be following white blazes in New England when the AT happened to coincide with part of my weekend loop hike. I'm
really enjoying the longer AT section hikes of 1-2 weeks. A very different experience than day and weekend hikes.
(though I have done a week in the Grand Canyon, a week on Mt. Ranier, and a week at Mt. Katahdin in the winter of 1979).
I'd love to do some even longer hikes, but I'm happy with every chance I get to be out there.

09-23-2002, 18:11
Ive done three sixty mile section hikes in the Shanendoah area (north twice, south once). ive had very little backpacking experiance anywhere else. but im very enthusiastic when it comes to backpacking and will undoubtadly continue for many years. i hope to thru hike in 2006, with section hikes every summer up untill then (if time and money allows)

09-23-2002, 19:16
My name is Hikerhead..and I'm.....a section hiker.

There, I said it and I feel better for doing so....:cool:

Former Admin
09-23-2002, 19:50
Originally posted by Hikerhead
My name is Hikerhead..and I'm.....a section hiker.

There, I said it and I feel better for doing so....:cool:

Welcome to our 12 step program Hikerhead!:D

09-23-2002, 20:15
Thanks Admin. Well I do feel better, now I just have to quit lieing to people while I'm doing my full pack training hikes.

Are you a Thru Hiker? "Yes mam, I started in GA and I'm hiking to Maine, and I'm starving, do you have anything you might not miss in that lunch basket of yours?"

Seriously, I think we all would like to be a Thru Hiker. But we all draw diferent cards in life and mine didn't come up as I would have liked. It's fun to learn about the different ways people do get around to doing a thru hike. I guess I will just have to stay in shape until retirement. If I live that long.

Gosh, this is great, I'm feeling better all the time!!!!

Hammock Hanger
09-23-2002, 20:21
all thru hikers are, is section hikers who cram all there sections into one summer. :rolleyes: Hammock Hanger

09-23-2002, 20:45
thats a good way of looking at it. makes me feel better. (not that i still dont want to thru hike)

09-24-2002, 00:11
I'm really enjoying the longer AT section hikes of 1-2 weeks. A very different experience than day and weekend hikes.
I find it fascinating how trips of different lengths require different types of planning, logistics, equipment, nutrition, mindset, etc. and result in different experiences, observations, weight change, cravings, patterns, completion rates, etc.

The day hike doesn't require much in the way of planning (although that doesn't seem to stop me from over-planning), provides a quick fix and a little exercise in a different environment.

The overnighter forces you to carry your bedroom and kitchen, and usually too much food, and it allows you to experience the woods at night.

The week-long section hike provides a glimpse of what it takes to do a thru-hike: a little pain, reaching interim milestones, menu planning, a tightening of the muscles.

The month-long hike requires more logistics, especially around re-supply, and forces you to take a few light days to just enjoy the trip.

A multi-month thru-hike requires the right mindset, working a daily routine, comfort with ambiguity, and a little luck.

Needless to say, the completion rates decrease the longer the trip. What you learn from a day/weekend/week/month hike will likely be valuable to a thru-hike, but the successful thru-hiker will need more. It's not for everyone, but it's also just different from hiking the entire Trail over many years and seasons. I'd like to thru-hike just to say I've done it and experience some of the social aspects, but I'd never give up the peace and solitude of off-season section hiking.

09-24-2002, 07:50
At the risk of being ostracized, I have never hiked the AT at all. In fact, I have never even seen any of it so I have refrained from "opining" on any subject requiring firsthand familiarity of it! I am just waiting for colder weather so as to do a two-week portion of it in October, my first. Then I will become , I guess, an AT section hiker.

But I am a CDT section hiker already, having done portions in Colorado and New Mexico. It seems a few years ago I developed this weird desire to walk from Mexico to Canada. I was elk hunting, alone, somewhat lost again, and decided that what I really enjoyed was being in the mountains. I decided to forego the expensive out-of-state elk and mule deer tags, leave the rifle and few rounds of hand-loaded ammo home, get a bigger pack [mistake; just didnt know it] and take up backpacking instead.

I was only familiar with the CDT because the Rocky Mountains was where I kept going hunting. I have always known there was an AT, and in searching out CDT info, AT info was what I mostly found. It is only this year that I decided on doing a portion of it. Why I have not done so before is a mystery because, logistically, living in Florida, its much cheaper. It has to be more fun, given its reputation for a social trail, with even permanent shelters, many hundreds more people doing it and a well-marked and even blazed trail all the way. Those are all luxuries which I am not accostumed to, but am looking forward to experience.

I can see that, on the AT, the name "highway" may not command a great deal of respect, given its association with "yellow blazes" and all, and i commend all of you for not snickering to loudly about it. But it refers to elevation, not street, was given to me and I am keeping it!

09-24-2002, 08:33
section hiker until i lose my job or retire. the friend spouse and kids like to eat and live under a roof. have done the same thirty mile section of the at about ten times includung all side trails and blue blazes in the area. i really do have to branch out some but i've grown to love cove mountain and saint anthony's wilderness area just north of harrisburg pa. hopefully this site may inpire and motivate me to stretch my comfort zone. pa has thousands of miles of backpacking trails in the state forests and much of my backpacking is directed there. in the back of my mind i have been harboring the dream of a thru-hike. since i was 18 in 1970 the magic of the at has threaded it's way thru my mind. living here in pa sort of at the belly of the trail i've been wondering if a belly-flop (pa-me/me-ga/ga-pa)would be feasable to do in one year. guess maybe i'll stop the dreaming and get back to work. thanks for the forum.

Uncle Wayne
09-25-2002, 07:18
My love of hiking / backpacking developed as a Boy Scout. While a scoutmaster, our troop hiked several sections of the AT. My wife and I plan to section hike until we retire and then maybe.... Our next section will be in the Smokies.
It was good to see the admin state that section hikers have valuable expertise to share.

09-25-2002, 09:47
I'm new to the AT, but definitely a section hiker in training, I'd say. So far, I've only done 33.2 miles of the AT -- sections in Maine, Mass. and Conn. as weekend dayhikes. I'm making my first backpacking trip next month. (Well, second but the other was years ago when I was 60+ pounds heavier and had no idea what the heck I was doing... I think I nearly had a heart attack...) This time, I'm hoping I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing thanks to all of the reading the forums on the AT.

I'd love to be a thru-hiker one day... but I'm just not brave enough to quit my job and do it. So, instead, I'll be hiking sections for the next 20 years so I can still get a chance to enjoy the trail.

-- Amy

09-25-2002, 13:15
I am a section hiker, a weekend section hiker. Ahh, highway, I feel better too.

I have loved the AT since I first hiked up Standing Indian about 20 years ago. I have hiked various sections in GA, NC and VA. Never for more than about 7-8 days. I did all of this hiking more than 10 years ago. Believe it or not, I have the same external frame backback that I got for Christmas around 1980 (I badly need a new one). I have hiked extensively in the Natahala region, it is my "AT home" even though I live in AL.

Until, this June I had not been on any trail for more than a day hike in 12 years. This June my buddy, who I introduced to the AT, and I hit the AT in the Natahala Area. We hiked from Stecoah Gap south to Rufus Morgan Shelter then back to NOC. Part of my heart wanted to keep going south. However, my wife and 3 small boys needed me at the house.

Next year we are planning to hike from NOC south to somewhere. The next year or the next we are planning to hike from wherever we've stopped to Springer. My plan is to section hike as much of the AT as I can and hike some other trails also. I dream of a GA->ME thru hike one day, but don't see it right now. Maybe one day one of my boys will need a partner for hiking north.:rolleyes:

Former Admin
09-25-2002, 14:13

Your name will fit in just fine on the AT, also by using Highway you just might run into someone that knows you from here. There are quite a few members at the forum here, that will be out hiking in October.
What section of the AT are you going to hike?

SGT Rock
09-25-2002, 17:31
Weekend - I'm from Decatur, and my first real hike on the AT was Standing Indian as well, only it was about 23-24 years ago.

Try hiking the Pinhoti, you'll like it.

Small World.

09-26-2002, 15:43
Originally posted by admin

What section of the AT are you going to hike?

Thanks for asking. Iíll start at Springer Mountain and amble north for about ten days to about Franklin, NC, and shuttle back from there via hacksaw. I am choosing Springer to start because it is closest to me and closest to the Atlanta airport that I can fly in/out of. Iím waiting till it gets a little colder to do it, so will probably go the latter part of October, or thereabouts. I want it to at least get down to the 30ís at night as I am getting tired of sweating through our long summer, and its nice to see what the change of the seasons looks like.

I must admit it was the reverent attitude of those on this forum about the AT that I became convinced to see it for myself. And, this site was instrumental in arranging my itinerary. For instance it convinced me to try and see Long Creek Falls, where I hopefully will try and hang my hammock up first evening and be lulled gently to sleep by the cascading, pristine (I hope) water. It will be my first use of the new Hennessey but leaving my Silshelter & bivey at home will be like abandoning old, trustworthy friends.

I have a 2001 copy of Wing foot I picked up as a guide. I canít wait to see the trail actually go through a building (store?) at Neelís Gap. I toyed briefly with the idea of trying to convince my young bride [I call her that as she is 1 year younger than I] to go along, holding out the possibility of the occasion to ďshop till you dropĒ as we passed through it, but suspect she would have abandoned me long before we walked there. I just canít seem to get her interested in strapping on a pack and walking for days continuously up and down mountain trails, especially since she has a perfectly good automobile and can drive near there much quicker, she says. Maybe one dayÖ.

And I am looking forward to seeing the shelters first hand, but am not so sure I want to sleep in one, given all the bad press and ďrattyĒ reviews they have gotten on this forum. I think Iíll feel better just visiting a few, perhaps cooking the evening meal there and then walking on a mile or so and stealth camp off the trail. It will be interesting and I am looking forward to it.

09-28-2002, 23:14
I'm a section hiker as well.
I've hiked about 1200 miles or so of the AT.Some sections more than once. The last couple sections I've done were PA in '99 and some of GA since then.
Now that the kids are hooked too, it's getting easier to get on the trail. :)


09-30-2002, 08:41
I think the shelters are great, but maybe I just have low standards. If you are looking for a good one to stay at, try Gooch Gap. Plumorchard Gap is a sweet one as well. Even if you don't stay in the shelters, they make good rest spots since they are dry and usually have accessible water.

09-30-2002, 08:45
Agreed that section hikers are usually and normally more knowledgeable
about hiking in their specific 'home' area since it is true that they have sectioned for years while the typical thru-hiker plods his/her 4-6months and then lives to tell the tale....personally I have sectioned on the AT for almost 30 years, and yes have even done many sections over 17 times...my coverage is only from Newfound Gap to Pearisburg, with other sections including Springer to Neals, and up the Abol slide and down the Hunt (after October 21 that will be from Fontana Dam, join me at Clingmans Dome Saturday the 19th if you are up for the march to Fontana Dam) but some sections the section hiker knows intimately and for that reason should be considered a valuable source of info...
Mystart was typically in the Boy Scouts and I consider myself blessed to have joined a hiking troop versus a 'camping' troop....I am still wondering why I love to hike but I sea kayak just as much and did 14 paddle trips last year from Acadia NP, the San Jan Arch., the Everglades, New Orleans and too many others to list. I dont limit myself to the AT and last year did 6 days hiking on Isle Royale and the year before flew out to do the Bright Angel trail down and up in the same day...then did the Havasupai hike the following day...besides this I bike 3 days a week, swim 2 or 3 days a week and paddle almost daily. Last may I did a 6 mile swim in under 3 hours.
OK enough for now I am hearing yawns from across the nation!

09-30-2002, 23:40
I too am a section hiker. In the fall I do a 2 week hike and in the spring I do a one weeker. Oct. 27 I'm starting a Troutville to Damascus hike. Will I meet any of you out there?

10-11-2002, 11:13
I'm a section hiker. Hiked my first section of the AT in 98 and just finished this year. I have already started over at Springer and am currently at Deep Gap headed north. This time I'm sure it will require more than five years!

SGT Rock
10-11-2002, 11:24
Which Deep Gap? As you hike the AT you will find a lot of names repeat like Laurel Mountain, Deep Gap, etc.

10-11-2002, 18:26
I am trekking from Penn-Mar to Harper's Ferry Oct 19-23, and am looking for partners. Anyone interested? I have trekked most of CO/NM, but never attempted East coast hikes. I am quite looking forward to this outing, what with the civilized shelties and all.


10-13-2002, 20:40
Yep, I'm a section hiker too. Been doing hunks of it since '93. I live up here in Canada only 4 hrs from Mt Katahadin. Took 3 years to clean up Maine then started heading south. In Nov. I'll be as far as the Shenandoahs...Wow! over half way in 9 years...I feel as seasoned as a thru hiker since I live the trail year round and spend time with the trail at least 2 to 3 weeks a year...And when I do thru hike it I'll just go for the ride and enjoy...

10-13-2002, 22:53
Weeknd made the comment of someday hiking with his son...I have the same dream with my oldest daughter who is asking more and more questions about hiking the AT....we have done little day hikes together but she is yet-due to school/athletic demands-to do an overnighter with me...hopefully someday and maybe, just maybe she will get the bug to do the long hike.

10-16-2002, 20:18
yes im a section hiker. i started in 97 and have about 600 miles done.until this year all have been long weekends next year looking to go 10-14 days.ive learned so much over six years. started out with 50lb pack now down to 28lb ive learned that food is so important! when i first started out i would be so exhausted that i could hardly eat.now my gorp bag is always handy, tired?eat cold?eat cant make the last two miles? drink a liter of water and eat!! i live close to the trail in ma. and meet alot of thruhikers i try to pick thier brain and use there tips to fit my hiking style.everyone is different and what works for me might not be for you. every year ive learned something that has worked out well. and at about 100miles ayear ive got 20 more years to learn more. happy trails jigsaw.

10-18-2002, 10:35
i can't label myself a thru-hiker. i did attempt a thru-hike in 2000, but an attempted thru-hike does not a thru-hiker make. i completed 2 sections. the first being Springer Mtn, GA to Bear Mtn, NY. the second being Baxter Peak, ME to Monson, ME. 1,400 - 1,500 miles, who knows?

that said, the section hiker label doesn't seem to fit me either, as i have no interest in completing missed sections or redoing favorite sections. my next experience with the AT will be Spring of 2003, once again beginning atop Springer Mtn with a far-off dream of reaching Katahdin by October. Hopefully, this time without cracking my head.

i guess i'm just a hiker, a name in a registry somewhere.

so, here's to all of us hikers. section--thru--occasional--want to hikers!

10-22-2002, 21:20
I am a section hiker who began hiking in March 2002 with the Maryland section, which I completed in three days. I have been on a few three day hikes and one ten day hike in September when I got lymes. I am hoping to recover from lymes soon so I can get a hike in during December.

10-23-2002, 15:30
An every fall (thus the novhiker handle) southern end hiker since 1972. Just do different sections between Springer and the Smokies. Have really noticed changes in 25 years.

Going out to Albert mountain area Nov 16.

10-23-2002, 17:32
Have really noticed changes in 25 years.
What kind of changes, novhiker?

10-24-2002, 10:50
The forestation in the Smokies, with the firs around Clingman's, etc. gone from bugs and acid rain.? The first time I hiked from Fontana it was like walking in a dripping cathedral in places. The usage of the trail is certainly up also, as more folks are interested in the outdoors. The equipment (I still have my original SVEA which works like a charm). But mostly, the people are a lot more varied in age. Used to see only scouts, high school and college folks (I went to NGC in Dahlonega), but now from young children to grnadparents are out there. Makes it more interesting to meet and talk with various folks.

10-25-2002, 03:22
In 2001 I walked from springer to Boiling springs PA. So 1100 miles under the boots. Had to leave the trail because I ran out of money and had no mail drops to rely on. However one big advantage to being a section hiker now is being able to refine my kit. Trying to go ultra-light (or reasonably close) Although my motivations are different. I want to trim pack weight just so I can carry more food ;) I hope to start the remainder in 2003-4.

10-27-2002, 01:01
I am proud to say that I am a section hiker. I did my first section of the A.T. in March 02 when I hiked the Maryland section.:)

11-02-2002, 15:49
Yep, me too....A section hiker for the past 10 years...I too feel as if I have as much or more experience than a thru hiker...Look at how hard it is to get to the trail every year...Just to pick up where I left off last year I have to fly 6 hours and bus it 6 hours arriving at the trail at 7 am.
We're lucky cause we get to live it and hike it every year until done, not just a short 6 month summer holiday...We may have a total of 20 years of the At in our lives...

11-05-2002, 14:41
Iím a section hiker, and Iím okay. I sleep all night and I hike all day...Started in í96 with a weeklong hike from Amicalola to Deep Gap with my German brother-in-law and have been getting out for a week or so each spring by myself since then. I usually have to explain to people that I am rarely alone at night since I stay at the shelters. Sometimes I get out for a long weekend in the fall, when I am usually alone at night. I once went almost 24 hours without seeing another human being on a fall hike; I enjoy the spring more because I like meeting people. Last spring, I ended at the Humpback Rocks parking area. I am already planning to hike from there to Manassas Gap next spring. I enjoy the length of a weeklong hike because I can carry all the food I need and donít have to think about getting off the trail. Besides, by the end of the week I can always use a nice shower, even if I bathe in the creeks along the way...

11-25-2002, 22:22
Two more here, section hikers that is . My wife and I have have made it from Springer to Damascus , having just completed the sections from Erwin. My goal , not hers , is to reach Katahdin by my 60th year . We may need to pick up the pace or change the goal. Oh well , its just time, tic toc ...tic toc....

12-06-2002, 15:10
I have done section-hikes on the AT, but am not hiking the AT in sections. And how long is a section? Is a chunk bigger? Is a section anything short of a thru-hike? Is someone who hiked 2,087 miles a section hiker? It's really quite silly isn't it. Are there hourly hikers? Guess I'm just a backpacker.

12-06-2002, 17:38
Well, I think the definition goes something like this. You are a thru-hiker when you hike from the entire length within 12 months. Anything less (or longer timewise) makes you a secion hiker.

You are a "2000 miler" after you have hiked the entire trail, no matter how long it took.

So, everyone who ventures out on the AT therefore is a section hiker, even if it's only a few feet. And the majority of the users each year at section hikers.

12-10-2002, 01:41
Originally posted by Former Admin
Are there any Section Hikers in this forum or visiting this forum, this will give us a better idea of whose who.

Terrapin here. I attempted a thru in '90 (pre-Internet days) and made it from Springer to Roanoke VA. Met LoneWolf on that journey... made an impression on me, he did <G>.

Did Katahdin to Monson later that summer. Since then I've completed Maine, re-hiked NH for the umpteenth time, Hanover NH to Bennington VT, and some 25 miles or so of MA. Like the rest of my life -- nothing linear or straightforward, and generally approached via the most roundabout route possible. I figure I've got 800 miles or so left, which I might just knock off in another half-dozen section hikes. Or maybe not.

rafe b.
aka terrapin

Bandana Man
12-12-2002, 00:14
On March 31, 2001, I started from Amicalola on my first AT section hike. Since the age of 14, I had often thought about hiking the AT, but I was 45 before I finally made it onto the trail. It was glorious -- far better than I had ever imagined. The pencil-and-paper journal in which I recorded my experiences is now a much prized possession. That solo hike taught me an important lesson -- to stop postponing my dreams. After that hike, my wife and I have taken a few small adventures that once would have been put off to another day. We have traveled to Montana and learned to snow ski. We have hiked in the Grand Tetons -- it was her first week-long hike. And, we have canoed and hiked in Algonquin, Canada. How we wish we had not waited so long.
After two wonderful weeks, my first AT section hike ended on April 13, 2001, at Rock Gap shelter near Franklin. But on April 13, 2003, I'm returning to Rock Gap Shelter for the next leg. Katahdin is just a faraway dream, but sometimes dreams come true, don't they?
Greetings and sincere thanks to all on this site whose willingness to share your experiences and offer your advice helps turn dreams into reality. Happy hiking.

12-12-2002, 01:24
Welcome aboard Rafe. You won't get booted from this site for expressing your opinions!:)
Won't that be a welcome change?