View Full Version : Question about repeat thru-hikes

02-10-2004, 01:26
Well, I suppose I'm starting to feel a bit of the so called Springer Fever as the year anniversary of my starting date is looming. It seems as if many i hiked with have almost shut out their hike and have moved on to bigger and better things. I'm still in college, but already entertaining the thought of another thru-hike. I've used the ides of a SOBO hike to warrant "doing it again". So my question goes out to repeat thru-hikers especially Jack, Wolf, Peaks, Warren and whomever else is able to maybe give some thoughts on this subject. How was it different the second time around. Was it worth doing again? Did it become better, worse or just different? I assume that each hike will include different people, weather, experiences, but did you find the hikes to be THAT different that they felt worth it. After all it is a considerable thing to undertake.
What would be some good things for one to think about before considering another hike? I read a journal from FALCON who attempted to re-thru hike the Trail in 02' and left the trail around Pearisburg because it simply wasn't meeting his expectations and the experiences he already had. He said he knew what was around every turn. How much of that is true?
I'd appreciate if this thread could continue without typical responses such as "there are too many trails to be wasting your time hiking the AT again". There are MANY other trails and areas I wish to hike in, I just simply feel a certain magic on the AT

02-10-2004, 08:45
I was wondering the same thing myself...hope you get some thoughtful responses. I'm guessing that many just enjoy hiking enough that they still find it gratifying, but perhaps not as "magical" as their first thru.

Blue Jay
02-10-2004, 08:50
I haven't done a complete thru since my thru but I frequently do 1000 milers on the AT. I, in no way feel that I have seen it all, each time is vastly different. Think about all those mountains where you saw only white mist. You went through in early spring. Go through in late spring early summer, I quarantee the flowers and birds alone will make your hike completely different. Hike NH and Maine during peak color without worry about freezing later. Think about it the pressure is gone, you get up on a beautiful day hike 5 miles to a beautiful waterfall or overlook, pull out a book and enjoy being lazy. A nice hiker comes by in the opposite direction you hike back for a day or so. Take every side trail you can find, most of them are amazing. People have Raced with the Rats for sooo long they feel they have to race on the AT, but you don't. It is vastly more majical.

warren doyle
02-10-2004, 09:02
Speaking for myself, it is a continuous adventure and a recurring pilgrimage - a wonderful balance of excitement/enjoyment and stability. I cannot learn enough; I cannot see enough; I cannot love enough; and, I cannot walk the AT enough.

02-10-2004, 09:48
I haven't done a second thru-hike yet. But, in a way, I too have moved on.

I continue to do short section hikes, both on the AT, the Long Trail, and elsewhere. I was doing that before I did a long distance hike. I have since finished the New England 4000's and the Adirondack 46'ers.

I also became more involved with giving back. Most noticably, I was very involved with the ATC conference in Waterville Valley. Also, I have been on ALDHA work trips, helped build a shelter on the M&M Trail, and done some trail work on local trails as well.

I don't know wether it's give back or not, but I was advisor for a crew at Philmont last summer as well.

There are still trails in the East to complete, including the Northville-Lake Placid and Cohos Trail. Like Bluebearie, the Colorado Trail is beconing. So many trails, so little summer.

I wouldn't rule out a second thru-hike, but it's hard to get away from family and other obligations for such a long period of time.

Lone Wolf
02-10-2004, 10:24
The second time for me was just as good if not better. The first time you're excited, scared, apprehensive and a little unsure about what it's all gonna be about. The second time for me I was just as excited and extremely confident. And like you said, the weather, people and experiences are different. There's some comfort knowing what's around the next corner or what the climb is gonna be like. You really can't see it all on 1 thru-hike. I've done 5 plus 6000 "other" miles and I still haven't seen it all. I'm going to Springer next month for the 18th year in a row. It never gets old. Go SOBO young man!

Spirit Walker
02-12-2004, 23:49
In many ways my second hike was better than the first. I didn't have the fear that I wouldn't make it - I knew I could if I wanted to. It took a lot of pressure off. I did kind of miss the newbie excitement - you can never do your first hike again - but there are compensations, like not sweating the small stuff. You know that one way or another, things will work out, whatever happens. There is a pleasure to familiarity - rediscovering places you enjoyed the first time, and finally seeing places that you missed because of weather on the first hike (Grayson Highlands for me). The people are different - and you are different, so it works out well. You know what to expect in towns, so you don't have any unmet expectations -- like the hikers that spent days planning their big meal when they arrived in Hot Springs, and discovered that it was a very very small town, and they weren't likely to find eggplant parmigiana on the menu at the diner. I knew what to expect and so was able to take what I found without worrying about what wasn't available at the stores. I spent less time in shelters second time around - but more time over all on the trail. I knew I would make it to Katahdin before winter, so there was no hurry. That was nice.

On the other hand, I have very little desire to go back and hike the AT again. It is beautiful, and I have good memories of my hikes, but the western trails draw me more. They are so much more challenging, and there is so much that I have still to explore out there. We'll do the CDT again first, then the Canadian Divide, and then who knows? There is no shortage of trails to explore. Doing the same ones over and over means never discovering the beauty of all the others: the Beartooths or the Winds or the Cascades or the Trinity Alps. I have too much curiosity about what lies over the mountain to stick to only one trail. It is safer to stick to the known - but such a lot is missed by doing so. So much world, so little time.

02-14-2004, 19:52
Hey Atrain...hey haven't talked to you in a while. As you know, 2003 was my second year on the trail. I didn't complete the entire trail in 2001 but did 1500 miles. For me, the second time on the trail was just as enjoyable as the first. It was a totally different hike for me since I had a partner this year. Changes the group dynamics of hiking. Some things seemed easier this year....Kelly Knob, Steacoh, Roan Mt. I guess it's an expectation thing. It's my belief that each hike will be a different experience, different problems, different people. I think going South vs North would completely change the hike for you. My suggestion.....load your pack up and go South young man!! Hey...if you can wait until 2005, I'll join you for another trip!!

02-17-2004, 13:54
A-Train...my boyfriend and i met last year on our thru-hikes and we, too have been talking about doing it again. i would leave right now if i could- damn law school! its funny, because towards the end of my thru-hike i could never imagine wanting to do it again...

02-17-2004, 14:56
I have done 2 thru hikes and I can tell you that the second time was wonderful and I enjoyed it more than the first. To be honest when I left to do my second hike I started at Springer Mountain and was only planning on hiking to Neels Gap (no joke!). Well, I guess I was having fun and I literally just kept walking. I had made no plans, no preperations, no nothing. I really was planning on a 3 day hike and it just never stopped. I experienced a lot of freedom and joy on that hike. I was not committed to a schedule (obviously!) and did not prepare. I am proof that you don't need to prepare at all. I would hike it again when/if time permits. Right now life is busy with other activities but I can tell you that I will never forget my "three day hike." The funnest part was when people would ask me how long I was planning on being out (i.e. running into day hikers), I got in the habit of saying, "Oh...I don't know. Maybe three days or so...." I always thought I may get off at the next town but it didn't happen until I reach Katahdin again.

Good luck.