View Full Version : Hitch Hiking

Former Admin
09-10-2002, 07:06
Safety concerns and experiences .... related to hitch hiking along the trail.

Hammock Hanger
09-10-2002, 07:08
When asked if I was afraid out on the trail as a "solo female" of the bears and snakes, I use to laugh. No, my biggest fear was the HITCH. I did get more and more comfortable with it but it will always make my stomach flip a little. That said, I was always able to get a ride and the folks were always very kind. -- I was talking with some guys about how long it takes sometimes to get a ride and they all said yeah but as a girl you must have it much easier. I said no, sometimes it takes me a long time. They said what is your idea of long? I said 20 minutes. They said try an hour... I guess being a girl does have it's advantages. HH

09-10-2002, 16:16
When I went section hiking in North Carolina last fall, I tried
to keep to a "no hitching" policy... which broke down at the
end of my very first day on the trail. I was out of water, and
scared, and it was getting dark. I lucked out; a USFS employee
took me to a nearby gas station, and even provided cold sodas,
and a retired letter carrier saw me looking very forlorn and
drove me all the way back to Hot Springs.

I'd still rather not hitch if I can help it at all, but who knows
when I might need to if I ever try a thru-hike? Yes, women are
more likely to be picked up, but that can be part of the problem....

Wander Yonder
12-24-2002, 01:34
I was reading Ramkitten's journal last night and she said that some people are making a few extra dollars by waiting at road crossings and charging people $5.00 to take them into town.

That sounded a little safer to me than just outright hitchhiking.

Is that fairly common?

Lone Wolf
12-24-2002, 02:05
Yeah there are a few folks up and down the trail hanging out at road crossings to make a few bucks shuttling hikers. BUT, hitching is really safe. Especially in pairs. In 16 years of doing the trail thing I've never heard about bad hitches, meaning assaults,rapes, murders. TRUST your instincts. Bad feeling? Don't get in or if already in DEMAND to be let the **** out! Have fun.

Wander Yonder
12-24-2002, 02:16
In 16 years of doing the trail thing I've never heard about bad hitches, meaning assaults,rapes, murders.

I find that amazing, and very reassuring! I had so many fears about attempting a solo hike. I let fear stop me from doing it last year. But the more I learn the safer I feel. I DO know not to camp near road crossings, thanks to online advice.

I had a very bad experience camping by myself last year. I had this AWFUL feeling for two days and KNEW I should leave, but tried to rationalize the feelings away by thinking they were unreasonable fear. Then three guys showed up looking for trouble, and I learned what mortal terror feels like. I KNEW I was going to be killed. However, I had my dog with me, and one of them said, "She's got a dog," and they left.

That is the LAST time I will ever disregard those warning feelings!

Lone Wolf
12-24-2002, 02:24
You'll be O.K. Take charge and be confident. ******** look for weaklings.

12-24-2002, 05:26

excellent coverage of the subject

Wander Yonder
12-24-2002, 12:45
Dirtyoldman, I had read that several months ago, but am happy to have the link again. I have it bookmarked and will read it again and probably absorb a lot more of it this time around.

Thanks! :)

12-24-2002, 17:33
I just wanted to share a story about Rebel/McGyvare of 02.. I am not all that sure about the details, but I heard he felt really bad at around Boiling Springs, for losing the dog he had found on the trail at the beginning.. Someone found it, but since he didn't have any papers for it, they wouldn't give it to him, so anyway, he decided to get off trail.
The guy trying hitching for around 9 hours straight, with a short lunch break in the middle... Nobody stopped, and he was already in town, trying to hitch away, into some bigger place.. Finally he gave up, and decided that the trail doesn't want him to get off, so he went on. He finished the trail, by the way...

08-09-2003, 12:26
Even as a guy hitching bothers me. I would rather get by without and hike the extra few miles into a town or push on to the next where the hike is shorter.
But if I am going to spend up to 6 months on the AT I am sure that I will have to hitch occasionally.
I agree with Lone Wolf about hitching in pairs.

Perhaps the media hype is what has me concerned about hitching. You read one of those horror stories and you come to believe that ALL people who pick up hikers are looking for trouble.

I also read the advice on staying away from camping within 1 mile of road crossings. That's just common sense.

08-12-2003, 12:11
I hiked with my husband, so being a solitary female trying to hitch alone was never an issue. That said, I actually enjoyed hitching...it added to the random-ness and adventure of the trip, we met some really, really wonderful people, got to do some educating to people who didn't even know the trail existed, and gave lots of people some really good stories to tell their families. If you trust your gut instinct and hitch in pairs or more, you'll be fine.

08-12-2003, 14:26
Hitching with a backpack is such a unique experience. Even off the AT. Just recently we did a section hike of the colorado trail. Not wanting to bother with setting shuttle, we decided we would hitch (first time we'd done that off the AT).

It was a fabulous experience. We met some real characters on our three ride hitch. It really was fun. Our last ride was a girl that had thruhiked the CT the year before. I think she was dissappointed we weren't thrus :)

There is something about having that backpack on. You will get picked up by all kinds of people.

Our worst ride was a drunk. I think this is actually the biggest danger with hitching. When I saw the empty 12 pack in the back, I asked if I could drive. He could barely answer, but he let me drive. First time in three months that I got a chance to drive! Then he told me he had just passed a cop a couple of minutes ago, and was afraid he was going to get stopped. GRAND! We tried to get him to go into the store with us for some coffee, but he wouldn't. I didn't really know how to stop him from driving away... Alcohol is a bad thing IMHO....

Gravity Man

08-12-2003, 18:20
Almost everything in life is best done in pairs :)

Gravityman; So I assume the guy drove away... drunk.
But at least he let you drive to the store.

I guess a well planned hike could reduce the need for hitching. Just plan to get off trail only when you can easily walk to town... probably not many places to do that. I haven't checked my maps yet.

I'll take the advice given here: Hitch in pairs.
I'm probably a bit paranoid to assume that most people who pick up hitch- hikers (literally hitch-hikers in a thru-hiker's case <g>)are bad.
But the bad ones ruin our confidence in all.

I suppose that if I am willing to pay the price I could avoid hitching alltogether by keeping phone nos of taxi services at each town I plan to stop at in my cell phone and giving them a call before I reach the road crossing. Sounds like too much bother, doesn't it.
I'm sure that my gut will tell me who to go with and who to avoid. I've always been good at that.

08-12-2003, 18:33
Hitching, IMO, is part of the thru-hike experience. I hitched probably 15,000 miles as a teenager, so it didn't bother me in my late 30's.

It is not necessary to hitch on the trail however. I knew 2 folks in 2000 who did not set foot in a car between Springer & Katahdin. Those folks were Crinkle & Gizmo's Dad.

Of course, that makes getting into places like Waynesboro, VA, Franklin, NC, & North Woodstock NH problematic. Nobody says you gotta go to those places though.

08-12-2003, 18:37
I can actually say that I've never hitched in my life. I'm 47!
Living in a suburb my whole life, and doing most of my traveling by air, train, or car there has never been a need.
But I am sure that my views on lots of things in life will change if I do the thru-hike.

08-13-2003, 14:37
Originally posted by fwassner
I'll take the advice given here: Hitch in pairs.
I'm probably a bit paranoid to assume that most people who pick up hitch- hikers (literally hitch-hikers in a thru-hiker's case <g>)are bad.
But the bad ones ruin our confidence in all.


I would take the complete opposite view and say that most people who pick up hitch-hikers, especially thru-hikers, do so because they can see the good in people. Hitching is so common to these trail towns that folks would often stop us on the road if we were walking and offer rides, whether or not our thumbs were out.

Another important thing to remember is that if you do hitch, remember that your behavior to the person providing the ride will also dictate how easily/how difficult it could be for future hikers to obtain rides in the same area. A few bad thru-hikers can also ruin the bunch for everyone...

Also, there were a few girls that we hiked with that carried cell phones specifically for the reason of avoiding hitching, and calling cabs or shuttles when they needed a ride. Worked out well for most of them.

08-13-2003, 16:36
Personally, I always liked hitching alone. I thought it increased my chances of getting a ride.

One thing I found interesting... People hitching with dogs often get rides the quickest. I always thought that dogs would decrease your chances of getting a ride. Who knew?

08-14-2003, 13:29
A friend of mine was recently forced to hitch hike when a mutual friend of ours severly sprained his ankle, car after car passed but she finally managed to get a ride on the back of a motorcycle, certainly an interesting hitch. i think its important to be weary of who you are accepting rides from and also who you are giving lifts too. i personly would at the very least consider stoping for anyone in need of assistance, although id feel more comfortable if there was somone else in the car with me.