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View Full Version : Thru Hikers in the News (Links to Articles)



rickb
12-01-2003, 12:56
Just thought I'd start a thread linking to newspaper articles detailing hikers trips. I figured I'd start off by posting one abut "CHIMPY"; perhaps some of you know him.

http://www.timesbulletin.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2003-12-01&-token.story=85235.111216&-nothing

Since these news links sometimes expire, here is a copy (without photo) for posterity:

Thru-hiker
Daunting task: VW resident describes his Appalachian Trail hike

Van Wert resident Jim Cox stands on a cliff somewhere on the Appalachian Trail. Cox spent 144 days hiking the trail as a thru-hiker, a term meant to describe backpackers who attempt to hike the trail straight through.
Editor's Note: Following below is Van Wert resident Jim Cox's description of his Appalachian Trail hike. Jim is referred to as "Chimpy" in the story, his adopted trail name. Many hikers adopt a trail name as they take on the rugged mountain trail that stretches over 2,170 miles. Jim spent a total of144 days hiking the trail.

As Chimpy descended slowly from Mt. Madison over the never-ending field of boulders, he knew his dream was coming to an end. The pain in his knees was much worse now that he was in the magnificent, treacherous White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was August 21, 2003, his 144th and last day on the Appalachian Trail.

Hiking the entire 2,170-mile, 14-state Appalachian Trail in one trip, called "thru hiking" is the most well-known accomplishment among backpackers in the United States. Approximately 2,000 backpackers try it each year. Only about 15% of them reach that goal.

Chimpy's retirement on March 28, 2003, gave him the chance he'd dreamed of since his first backpacking trip many years ago. He started at Springer Mountain in northern Georgia on March 30. It was a cold, snowy, intimidating day. "I had warm clothes, but I was certainly hoping for better spring weather in Georgia," he said. "I was anticipating 5 months of hiking and needed a morale booster to start out. I didn't get one that day!"

His plan was to average 13 miles per day, including one "zero day" each week. He spent those days resting in motels in nearby towns, calling home, picking up mail, doing laundry, catching up on the news and consuming vast amounts of food. "On the trail, I survived on water, trail mix, energy bars, and dehydrated fruit, vegetables and pasta, which my wife mailed to me every week. Needless to say, I loved getting into town and eating normal food. Still, my weight went from 178 to 163 the first month."

Imagine having to worry about getting enough calories, instead of getting too many. That's one of the many challenges of a thru-hiker.

Another challenge is stuffing enough equipment and supplies into a backpack to survive 5-6 months of strenuous mountain hiking in all kinds of weather. Unlike other hiking trails, the Appalachian Trail provides small three-sided shelters approximately ten miles apart. Although a shelter is a convenience in bad weather, most backpackers carry tents for flexibility and privacy. There also must be space in the pack for food, cooking equipment, utensils, sleeping bag, extra clothing, first aid supplies, reading material, maps, etc.

"It didn't take the thru-hikers, including me, long to figure out ways to get by with less weight in the pack," Chimpy said. "I traded my tent for a much lighter tarp, got rid of my water filter (replaced by a chemical) and bought a smaller pack. This lowered the total average weight by about ten pounds to a little less than 30 pounds."

An odd thru-hiking tradition is that every hiker adopts a "trail name" (e.g. Chimpy). In fact, a thru-hiker never uses a real name. Trail names vary from the expected Grizzly, Eagle, Squirrel to such originals as Snot Rocket, Riff Raff and Wounded Knee.

Chimpy estimates that 60 percent of the thru-hikers are males in their 20s and 30s, while only 20% are young females. "About 15% are old guys like me who now have time to give the A.T. a try. There are very few older females, about 5%. For safety reasons, few women hike alone, but most of the men do. Because of different hiking speeds, you seldom see enough of any one hiker to get to know him really well. It can get pretty lonely for a talkative person, which I'm not. I think a lot of hikers dropped out just because they had so few people to talk to."

It quickly becomes apparent to any A.T. hiker that this isn't an easy walk in the park. Except for a lovely, flat 15-mile stretch near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, the trail is a constant roller coaster of ups and downs. Much of it is rock-covered and hard on feet, ankles, knees and boots. The descents are more painful and dangerous than the ascents, especially for older hikers.

"Although the scenery is varied and wonderful, bad weather, loneliness and physical strain are a real challenge," Chimpy found. "In fact, 20% of the hikers typically drop out before getting through Georgia (the first state) and 80% never make it out of Virginia (the fourth state). Virginia is the biggest state by far (531 miles of A.T.) and the newness has worn off by then. It was also incredibly rainy there this year. It took me 45 days to get through it!"

As Chimpy made it through one state after another Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont he began to think he might make it to northern Maine after all. "At my age (almost 59 at that time), I didn't start out with a lot of confidence," he admitted. "I just wanted to see as much of the trail as I could and, especially, to see what it does to a person, mentally and physically. I could hardly believe it when on August 10th, I crossed the Connecticut River into New Hampshire!"

New Hampshire, though, is the toughest state of all. The A.T. in the White Mountains provides the most drastic elevation changes anywhere en route. Much of the trail consists of piles of boulders. Chimpy's knee pain became progressively worse from the pounding of the steep descents. He'd completed 96 of New Hampshire's 161 miles before Mt. Madison brought the dream to an end. He had covered 1,825 miles of the A.T. There were 345 more miles to the top of Katahdin, the mountain in northern Maine that marks the end of the trail.

"It's pretty sad that the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, with the most spectacular views of the entire trip, brought me down," Chimpy lamented. "The fun was gone, though. I was having a lot of knee pain on the descents. I was glad to be coming back to Van Wert, my wife, kids and grandkids. Now I'm enjoying a lot of people and luxuries of civilization that I took for granted before."

Among the many highlights were the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, historic Harper's Ferry, South Mountain Civil War Battlefield, a view of the New York City skyline from Bear Mountain (30 miles away), and the top of Mt. Washington (which has the worst weather in America). There were the animals, snakes, birds, flowers, views and historic sites. "I was always eager to see what challenges and sights the next day would bring," Chimpy recalled. "Even when things were tough, though, I appreciated the solitude, the time for meditation and prayer. I also enjoyed the relaxing evenings in camp. After an exhausting day, it felt so good to curl up in my sleeping bag with my devotional and a good book. I seldom stayed awake long, though."

Will Chimpy go back and try the remaining 345 miles? "When I came home, I had no desire to do that," he said. "My knees are starting to recover, though. If they're feeling good around next August 21st, I'll probably think seriously about it. I really would like to see what Maine looks like."

You can read Chimpy's nightly journal and see photographs on his web site at http://www.geocities.com/roseanncox/index.html.

rickb
12-01-2003, 13:02
Here is another:

http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1413,82~1726~1794346,00.html

rickb
12-01-2003, 13:05
One more (found with www.news.google.com)

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=10434617&BRD=1572&PAG=461&dept_id=183019&rfi=6

Jaybird
02-20-2004, 15:35
www.OneLegWonder.com

Red Hat
02-20-2004, 18:29
This is a great one about a hiker I met last year.

http://www.mywesttexas.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=10291266&BRD=2288&PAG=461&dept_id=475626&rfi=8

Reverend Tremendous
01-14-2014, 19:44
Jim Cox,

what a pleasure to realize that you noticed; indeed, Tie's hike will forever be a mystery. Should we expect anything less? Paint by numbers, perhaps? A public journal as open-forum is often sufficient. Any semblance of living, however, seems to require certain things to be left unsaid. No? While social beings, the price of privacy is delinquency to journal readers. A small price as the armchair offers such a pathetic forum.

Sad to disappoint, I'm certain. Sleep long or, rather, as you were. Jester or joke? Nevermind, nobody cares.

aficion
01-14-2014, 20:10
Jim Cox,

what a pleasure to realize that you noticed; indeed, Tie's hike will forever be a mystery. Should we expect anything less? Paint by numbers, perhaps? A public journal as open-forum is often sufficient. Any semblance of living, however, seems to require certain things to be left unsaid. No? While social beings, the price of privacy is delinquency to journal readers. A small price as the armchair offers such a pathetic forum.

Sad to disappoint, I'm certain. Sleep long or, rather, as you were. Jester or joke? Nevermind, nobody cares.

Old time thread revival. Can I get an Amen?