View Full Version : How often do former thru-hikers go hiking?

steve hiker
12-01-2003, 15:53
Do former thru-hikers go backpacking very often? In reading thru-hiker journals and forum entries, I don't see many of them mention that they go hiking very much. Many mention the next big thru they are planning, such as the PCT or doing the AT again. But it seems many of them are sitting at home cooling their worn heels, and not much else.

I have not done a thru hike yet, but take the chance to go backpacking whenever I can (which is miserably seldom). But a short b'packing trip undoubtably pales in comparison to the experience of a 6-month thru. So, do former thrus even bother?

12-01-2003, 16:31
Do former thru-hikers go backpacking very often?

Hey Steve -

I used to go backpacking all the time after I hiked in 1999. However, I have found that now I go backpacking a lot less than I used to. Some of it has to do with an increase in social obligations that I have.. most of which I have chosed willingly. However, quite a bit has to do with me getting a bit bored with the Northeast Region. I have hiked and backpacked a good portion of the mountains in NH, Maine and VT.

There is still a ton of backpacking that I havn't explored in NY, specifically the High Peaks region, but that is about a 4 hour drive, so I can't make the spontanious trip over there. I still love it, and I did spend 3 weeks on the Colorado Trail this summer, so its not like I am not getting out. But I was backing almost every other weekend at one point.

I think if I had a partner that I would go more, but backpacking solo in an area that I have been to several times before just isn't quite as appealing. I'd rather head out west and see something new right now. Not sure if this "out west" bug is temporary, but pretty much everything on my to-do list is a plane ride away.

Still, I have my favorite spots in the Whites and I do visit them during the year. Just not as much as I used to.

12-01-2003, 16:33
Most of my backpacking since my thru hike in 1999 has been on hikes greater than 50 miles. Occasionally I go out for just a night. I do get out for day hikes a lot. This summer I got about 120 miles of day hikes. I also like to go hiking for a few hours after work, I find it helps me unwind to hit a trail and go to some small peak. Living in the White Mountains makes it easy to find the time for hiking. I imagine people who don't live near a trail don't get out as much, especially for backpacking trips.

12-01-2003, 17:59
Since I thru hiked in 99 also, I have backpacked at least a few weeks every year since. In 2000 I hiked 2 weeks back on the AT, then in 2001 I did the approach trail to Springer Mt, which I never did on my thru hike, then continued on to Damascus for Trail Days (6 weeks). Since then I have started hiking with my grown son at least 1 week somewhere on the AT, that I thought was especially beautiful and where he would enjoy. I took him from Roan Mt to Damascus, in 2002 and this past year we hiked from Damascus to Partnership Shelter so he could see and enjoy the Grayson Highlands and Mt. Rogers. I also hiked with Kerosene for a week in 2002, which was great. I also take smaller trips here in Ohio at various places usually in the Wayne National Forest.

So I for one, still do love the experience and even though I don't see another thru-hike in the near future, I think it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have had in my life. I do hope to do another thru-hike in about 5 years, if my health continues to be good.

Well, that is a run down of my experiences but I would venture to say that most thru hikers do continue hiking either on a small scale or start planning another long trip somewhere.

Hope this helps.


Lone Wolf
12-01-2003, 18:07
I backpack every year since my first thru-hike in 86. I'm heading to Springer in March for my 18th year in a row there. Gonna hike home to Damascus.

12-01-2003, 18:53
We do a lot of day hiking, and are just now kinda getting into the car camping thing, which is a lot of fun. We are trying to do all 54 colorado 14ers too (No, you perv Lone Wolf! Mountains over 14,000 feet!). As well as section hiking the colorado trail.
Having said that, backingpacking on the weekends really doesn't hold the appeal that it once did. It is a lot of work to get all the gear together for or three nights. Once you have spent weeks and weeks out there, it just seems so sad to have to hike with keys in your pack, and a planned itinerary. So we don't do as many short trips (Last summer we did 1 long weekend, the year before we did 4 long weekends).
Day hiking is still a favorite and we probably average 1 every other weekend, if not more. And the 14ers are a blast, and also give the feeling of a goal similar to trying to get to Katahdin.
But the real interesting thing is planning the next long distance hike. Next summer we are going to do a month on the colorado trail, and the year after that (2005) we are going to try for Maine again. Already asked if I can have 8 months off, and was told that I could (YIPPIE!!!!)

Gravity Man

Sleepy the Arab
12-01-2003, 23:21
My hiking habits have generally remained the same since my thru-hikes, and yes I'll elaborate. When I am not thru-hiking, I have good hiking years and bad ones. '98 was a good year for me; I had somewhere around 11 or 12 day hikes totalling 110 miles or so. This may not seem like much, but it is a considerable time and money issue to day hike in my beloved Whites from where I am at. 2000 (between Hike 1 and Hike 2) was a bad year. 2 day hikes and total milage was less then 10. This past summer was particularly good for me. However, I was never really big on overnight hikes. My stomping grounds a little too crowded, and a little too expensive for me.

12-02-2003, 06:18
with drawn

warren doyle
12-02-2003, 09:39
I have been doing a complete AT hike by sections in the five year period between my thru-hikes with the AT Expeditions (which occur every five years). This section hike averages about 20 days per year. I also have spent about 14 days hiking out West over each of the last two summers.

12-02-2003, 16:33
Well, as far as myself, After my thru hike in '80, I did portions of the PCT but that was the end of my adventures. 'Course I was just a young lad with very little or no say in the matter. But know I'm coming to a point in my life where I will have the opportunity, and I'm going to take it. The AT thru hike was a beautiful time in my life, and I'd be a damned fool not to try and experience it again, this time through the eyes of a man.

12-20-2003, 23:58
I go out every year for at least a month or two solo. Last year I did from Waynesboro to Boiling Springs. The old Lady (Blue Duck) and I go for Fri-sun hikes 6 or 7 times a year, we'll hit Damascus or Mt. Rodgers, or the Shenandoahs.

12-21-2003, 00:17
Yo Steve H.

In my researching this very subject over the last few years...as i got more & more into backpacking & hiking, (day-hikes, section-hiking, etc)...i've found it interesting that the majority of Thru-hikers are the "young crowd" (20-somethings..with no obligations or life responsibilities) or "retiree-age hikers" (65 plus..done the job-thing, sent the kids to college & graduated, etc, etc) & now have time to take a journey themselves.

If you think about it....if you're a 20-something & you thru-hike (once or twice)...LIFE (& Reality...what a concept) sets in....you HAVE to get a job, pay bills, then....you get into a relationship (marriage, etc) a baby or two comes along...welllllllllllll, you get the picture.....

Us, middle-agers.....kinda have to do the section thing....until we get it taken care of....

I would think after a thru...or two (in most cases, not, all) that the serious hiking & backpacking dwindles to almost nothing.


01-01-2004, 16:17
At my 2000 mile mark I was already planning my first section hike for after I had finished my thru hike. I have been hiking almost every week since I finished my thru hike. 2003 I even stalked a friend of mine while thru hiking. I met up with him in NH and would go out every other week to find him on the trail. It was a great game of catch me if you can. I made it all the way down to Catawba, Virginia. My only regret was that during the holiday season I had to work more so I couldn't go out each week. I fell in love with hiking! And in February I will once again attempt a northbound thru hike. I hope I never stop!

Spirit Walker
01-04-2004, 17:48
It depends on whether you really love hiking, or if you hike the AT just to say you've done it, but don't really enjoy the reality of long distance hiking. I am a hiker. I started hiking in my mid-20's, did the AT at 31 and never had the slightest desire to stop hiking just because I had had the one adventure. We generally hike between 500-700 miles a year, and do a long hike when we can. In my case, I hiked the AT in 1988 and 1992, the CDT in 1999, the PCT in 2000 and we're planning on the CDT again in 2006. It is harder when you are mid-life, but not impossible. You just have to make the hiking your priority. Since we love hiking, backpacking and long distance hiking - of course we will keep on going as long as our health allows.

Stardust Walking
02-08-2004, 21:19
After a three year section hike of the At, 1999-2001, with a 3 1/2 months as
caretakers at the Blackburn trail center Voyager and I hike every chance we
get. We live a few miles from the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin and are hiking and
filming on the trail several times a month. Hoping to get back to the North
Contry Trail one of these days.

Happy hiking, Stardust

02-08-2004, 21:45
It depends on whether you really love hiking, or if you hike the AT just to say you've done it, but don't really enjoy the reality of long distance hiking. I am a hiker. I started hiking in my mid-20's, did the AT at 31 and never had the slightest desire to stop hiking just because I had had the one adventure. We generally hike between 500-700 miles a year, and do a long hike when we can. In my case, I hiked the AT in 1988 and 1992, the CDT in 1999, the PCT in 2000 and we're planning on the CDT again in 2006. It is harder when you are mid-life, but not impossible. You just have to make the hiking your priority. Since we love hiking, backpacking and long distance hiking - of course we will keep on going as long as our health allows.

I walk in the woods almost daily. But my long distance walks have taken a back seat to trail protection. In the decade since my walk in 1993, I've served as overseer of the first 60 miles of the 100-mile-wilderness, maintained my three miles of the AT system, helped protect another 700 acres of land in the small coastal Maine town where I live, and helped form a new Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust.

The latter's first project is to buy the rest of the ridgeline of Abraham Mountain, north of Saddleback, and a thousand acres or so of the south ridge of Saddleback itself. These combined are a tiny (maybe $300,000 project) that we hope will give us credibility to raise the $6 million needed for a buffer south of the Bigelow Preserve in the Western Maine mountains, that is also suddenly on the market.

If you want to know more, or perhaps join our effort as a founding member, just write to the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, PO Box 325, Yarmouth, Maine 04096. Founding memberships cost $100. Regular memberships, $35. But we take donations of any amount. We need 300 donations averaging $1,000 to protect Abraham, and provide the credibility needed for bigger campaigns.

We are a 501 3c organization, all contributions and dues are tax deductible. The need is critical. Maine is the wildest, most remote and most at risk section of the entire trail.


02-08-2004, 22:04
Since my 1990 thru-hike I have not been on any long hikes. Every weekend I get a chance I am out on the A-T for short hikes or to do trail work, since I live only 1 mile from the trail. It's great to get out on the trail after a hard week at work to do some hiking.

02-09-2004, 13:19
For me it's all about location. For 16 years before my thru-hike in 2003 I lived about an hour and a half from Neels Gap. I used to get up and do that section of the trail quite often. But since my hike I've relocation to Wyoming (Laramie). Arriving home in October, the snow had allready fallen and temps were in the teens (even colder at the higher elevations) so I haven't ventured out too much.

If I was still living near the AT I would be out there at least one weekend a month, like I always was in the past.

02-16-2004, 17:50
I hiked all the time before I did the AT. Then I did the AT. I think I've been out twice since we got back. Instead of hiking, I find myself now wanting to pursue other outdoor loves, with a feeling of "been there, done that" when it comes to hiking anywhere anymore. Now I'm concentrating more on paddling, climbing, skiing and biking...my other loves that used to be neglected becuase I was "going hiking". I'm sure it will all come full-circle some da, but for now my pack is gathering dust and I'm not even sure where my boots are.....

02-16-2004, 19:23
My 2000 hike was the longest I had ever done. Prior to that I has never camped or hiked longer than a weekend. The only exception being when I was a soldier in the early 80s. Since my hike I have basically rearanged my life so I can hike, at least all summer. June July and August. Im concentrating on the smaller hikes. Last year I did the The Long Trail. This year im hiking some of the AT, MA to the white mountains then North from there on the new Cohos trail. Ill cover a total of 450 miles.:sun

Kozmic Zian
02-16-2004, 23:03
Yea....How Often? I try to get out in The Woods as often as possible. In N. Virginia, where I am now, I get up to SNP and Harpers Ferry at least 2 times a month. Do some local stuff around here(Alexandria, VA).
I have a samur in Florida, where I go to get out of the cold. There are three big State Forest nearby, so I stay busy there, also. Never Fade Away. Thru-Hiking is Forever, mine frerrs. [email protected]

02-17-2004, 03:18
i cant get enough, in fact i am in the process of withdrawing from my career pursuit, throwing it all away, and going back. im one of those that has never found a life nearly as enjoyable and fulfilling as a life walking. since at 99, ive racked up about a grand and a half in all corners of this amazing country, including 500 along the pct last summer. and the wonderland trail, yall, do that sucker! and in the olympic peninsula you can string together some lean mean treks. any chance i get, i am out there, and i take four hour day hikes in the modest reservation in this armpit three times a week. i fear this is detrimental to my well-being, this addiction. at times i felt like the pct was a traveling support group for those who hadnt recovered from the AT. that would be a good thread, LDHA: long distance hikers anonymous. it seems the traditional middle age path holds some merit as i approach these years, but i am now scampering from those obligations to remain forever hiker trash. alas.