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Pedestrian
07-28-2003, 08:34
Attempted thru-hikes:

How far did you get (miles please :) )?
Why did you leave the trail?
What could you have done differently to have completed?
What did you learn about yourself through your attempt?

Blue Jay
07-28-2003, 08:53
Failure is a harsh word. Even if you only got to Neels Gap you would not have been a failure. You accomplished something that thousands dream about but never get off their fat asses and try. Even if it was only for a day you were a thruhiker and there is great honor in that alone.

Pedestrian
07-28-2003, 09:25
Sorry Blue Jay.
I never meant to belittle anyoneís attempt. I have met many thru hikers on the first day out and congratulated them on their thru hike. To which I usually get strange looks and reply that they havenít done anything yet. To which I would always reply youíre here.

I am fully aware of the great amount of planning and preparation that goes into a thru hike. Some people find too easy to be critical of every ďmiss-spokenĒ word in this type of forum. If we met on the trail and were having a conversation this wouldnít be an issue because through my voice and facial expressions you would know what I meant to say without the need to lash out, or perhaps itís the distance that the internet provides that makes this kind of attack worthwhile. Iím not sure.

Your point has been duly noted and I have revised my question as to not offend.

I hope you are having a great Monday!

Blue Jay
07-28-2003, 10:26
You did use the word "failure" in your original post. You'll have to tell me how you revised it, as I have been known to make similar mistakes. Wait a minute I figured it out on my own.

gravityman
07-28-2003, 10:43
We made it to front Royal, or just about 1/2 way.

The reason we got off was because of my wife's foot neuroma. It was expectionally painful, but she pushed through it for 500 miles before it just couldn't be delt with anymore.

Another reason we left was because of the pressure that I felt on us to complete. I pushed her really hard, and made things less pleasant than they needed to be. We were out there to escape the pressure, and yet my personality type still brought it out there.

To have completed we should have delt with the problems earlier! First was the knee pain my wife was having on the way into Haiwassee. We should have take a zero or two there and evaluated what was causing that (heavy boots which also probably lead to the neuroma). Next was the digestive problems she was having. We should have gone to a doctor as soon as it was obvious this wasn't normal (we eventually did in Kincora, but I don't think that doc gave us the proper dose of Flagel. Only a few days worth (3 I think). The problems continued even after getting off trail. Several stool samples later, nothing was ever found to have caused it.) Finally we should have seen a foot doctor as soon as she started to get pain in her foot that was presisent. I just found out that there is a GREAT foot doctor in Abingdon, Va 12 miles from Damascus. The website is www.footrxstore.com I found him on runner's world, and he knows his stuff! Good place to get orthotics made if you are having foot problems. If we had done this, I am very confident that we would have finished.

So, to sum it up, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR HIKING PARTNER!

The most important thing I learned was, well, I already posted that on the thread about what you learned on your thruhike. I have to learn not to be stressed and put pressure on myself that is unnecissary. I stressed about milage a lot. In fact, there was no need to. You have to average 10 miles a day to make it to the big K by Oct 15 if you started March 1 (including zeros). That's pretty darn easy. We were averaging 11 miles by the time we got off even with all our problems. Trust me, we were doing short days because of the feet!

Gravity Man

Joel Rash
07-28-2003, 18:52
I don't think failure is too strong a word, as long as we're clear what the word is referring to. I set out to thruhike the AT in March, 2001. I never made it to Katahdin. In terms of finishing the thruhike, I clearly failed.

That said, I don't think my time on the trail was wasted in any way. I had a great experience, I spent time with friends old and new, I rekindled my dormant love for the outdoors, I made a (relatively) clean break with the past, and cleared the decks for a new way to earn a living.

For a more direct answer, I had a spectacular tumble and moderate ankle and foot injury compliments of the downhill coming up on Apple House Shelter/19 in Tennesee. I limped the miles in to Kincora and with a shuttle to Damascus from the saintly Bob Peeples made my way home from there. While my ankle was in good enough shape to hike within a few weeks, my heart wasn't in it any more. My trail friends were hundreds of miles ahead, I was helping out at the teen club I had started, and was enjoying spending time with my family and my dog. Plans for a flip-flop or catching up got put off until it was too late to go. I ended up getting a great job doing economic development, and am getting myself in a good financial position to take lots of time off in the future.

The best news? My contract at work runs out in 2004, and I'll have saved up enough money to hike for as long as I want. Right now my plan is to be on Springer come March of 05. Of course, I'm not making any bets that I'll end up on Katahdin that fall. Have to see where the trail will take me...

stranger
07-28-2003, 21:05
In 1995 I set out from Springer on March 2nd and finished my hike in Waynesboro in early May, around 800 miles I think.

Word of Advice: Once you are in the groove...don't break it.

I credit my failure to being somewhat young 18 and not realizing the importance of my trail friends. When I came back from my break everything seemed different, maybe the blues...who knows?

Never the less, one of the best times of my life.

Sleepy the Arab
07-28-2003, 23:32
1. 1850 miles. That's Gorham NH, and about 85% of the way to you normals.

2. Starvation, Winter, and an intense but kinda disturbing desire to mate with a tree.

3. Eaten better, and fewer zero days. I have since learned to eat better. The zero days....well, we can't be the acme of perfection in everything.

4. I am stubborn. Incredibly, stupidly stubborn.

Pedestrian
07-29-2003, 08:38
Thanks for the great replies.

Gravityman:
As always, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I would truly like to meet you one day. Perhaps on your next thru-hike you can contact me and Iíll be your shuttle and buy you dinner.

Joel Rash:
Stranger:
It does seem to me that if you leave itís very hard to get back. Iíve seen in other thruís that went home with a minor injury. They plan to return but almost never do. Of the ones that I have helped get home they have never returned that year.

Sleepy the Arab:
I really donít know how to reply to that comment, but thanks for your input.

The reason that Iím posting some deep questions of former thruís is that my daughter and son-in-law are in the early stages of planning their first attempt at thru-hiking. These are just some of the things that have come up in our conversations and I thought if we were going through these mental exercises others are out the doing the same thing. I believe that this is what this site is best at; educating other hikers.

Thanks again for your replies. I hope we can get several more.

Remember, time in the woods is never wasted. Hardship is a great educator. Whatever doesnít kill us makes us stronger.

gravityman
07-29-2003, 11:10
Ah, they are going to have some fun!

One other piece of advice that I just put somewhere else. If they are serious about getting off, they should take a couple of zeros (three?) then hike for 1 more week. If they still want to get off, well, then it truly is time. No skipping sections because they think the promised land is just around the corner. WHen it comes down to it, it's all hard. Walking every day for at least 12 miles is hard emotionally. It doesn't matter where you do it.

And virginia is NOT flat! I don't know how many times I heard that. I was so mad to find out it wasn't true!

Gravity man

gravityman
07-29-2003, 11:15
Of course we regret not going to trail days though. That was something worth leaving the trail for a few days for!

Gravity man

Grimace
07-29-2003, 12:20
Make sure you feed em at that all you can eat country cookin' place (Spring House? SMith House?) before they take off. I hiked SOBO and it was our first stop after the trail. I literally ate non stop for 2 hours. MMMMMM

Pedestrian
07-29-2003, 12:44
The Smith House is a great family style resturant in Dahlonega, GA. The family that own this place a very nice. I highly recommend this place. For a cheaper, more casual dinning try the Wagon Wheel Resturant. This is were the GATC meets before hikes and work days.:)

Downunda
07-29-2003, 19:07
I first attemted a thru-hike in 2000. I got as far as Damascus then dropped out. I dropped because I felt the trail was becoming boring, however after I got home I realised it was homesickness that was the problem.

Not having finished my hike ate at me for a long time and I couldn't get it out of my system. So in 2002 I returned to Damascus and continued where I left off and completed my hike loving every minute of it.

I found one of the ways to overcome homesickness was to spend more time getting to know other hikers whether it be at shelters, along the trail or in towns.

I certainly think Gravityman's suggestion about taking a few zeros and perhaps a break from the trail for a week if one is thinking of dropping out is a good one, and if I had done it in '02 it might have saved me from dropping out.

foodbag
08-21-2003, 13:30
Made it from Springer to Woods Hole Hostel, just south of Pearisburg, VA. I think that's about 610 miles. The left foot got me with plantar fascitis, combined with shin splints and a pressure point on my right ankle bone from an experimental pair of boots that I bought to try to save the hike.

What will I do differently the next time? First, hike my own hike and not get caught up in the faster pace of younger hikers. Two, custom orthotics. Three, invest in some ultralight gear, not all of it but the key components. Four, trail runners v. full blown hiking boots. Five, get the folks from home to send me some mail along the way for moral support! I think number 5 would be most important along with: Six, have more fun and not worry about mileage. After all you're out there enjoying maximum freedom, no job, no schedule, no worries mate! That's my two cents....

Blue Jay
08-21-2003, 14:28
I agree a thousand percent with what Foodbag just said. Support from home is a key element in a thruhike. I'd be willing to bet that homesickness is the number one and most dabilitating illness on the AT.

reddevil
11-02-2003, 17:46
I hiked in '98 and made it to Damascus.I spent too much money on food hotels and beer in towns.I stayed in Damascus at Mountain Man's farm and helped out around there until I got enough money to take a bus back home.If i could do it differently, I would buy food in towns instead of having family send it to me.It's depressing looking at everything you're going to be eating for the next 5 months.My brother in law is wanting to thru-hike and this may be my next chance to go if I can figure out how.This time the dog is going to come so I won't be staying long in towns.I'll also hike with lightweight gear since I figured out in that trip what really works and what I really need.My Montrails were also overkill.I think I'll try some trail runners this time.

bunbun
11-03-2003, 00:06
Pedestrian - first - are you the Pedetrian who was on the PCT in 2000?

But about your questions - I dont have time for a long answer right now, but you might check out these links. They're specifically related toyour questions. And they're too long to quote here.
http://trailwise.circumtech.com/atlthruhikingwhatif

http://trailwise.circumtech.com/thruhikingpapers/part5

Pedestrian
11-03-2003, 07:39
No, I've never been out west. All of my hiking has been in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tenn.