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MadRiver
03-02-2004, 12:09
Iím curious, what are the dos and doníts of a pure thru-hike? Can you leave the trail for a brief period (wedding, funeral, etc.) and return without penalty? When can you slack pack and when canít you? I know hiking the AT is based primarily on the honor system, but are there different levels or classes of a thru-hiker?

deeddawg
03-02-2004, 12:20
There's truth to the words "Hike Your Own Hike"

Be careful not to get trapped into defining your hike by what others may think. Do what works for you, what meets your needs/goals, etc. Trying to live up to others definitions will cause nothing but aggravation since there are so many different people you're trying to please.

Much less stressful to just worry about what works for YOU.

Have a look at:

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hike/thru_hike/after.html

Lone Wolf
03-02-2004, 12:37
There are no rules. But some regulations. Pick and choose the ones you want to adhere to. :cool:

Kozmic Zian
03-02-2004, 12:54
Yea.....Pure? Just follow the White Blazes To [email protected]

The Old Fhart
03-02-2004, 13:07
Mad River,
I think that it is you who ultimately has to answer that question. Even purists don't all agree on what is "correct". The ATC says to qualify for 2000-miler status you should walk the entire marked trail. Keep in mind that even the trail legends of old didn't hike the every inch of the marked trail because they got lost, missed a turn, etc.. I feel that if it is important to you to be considered a purist then you should make a good-faith effort to stick to the white blazes. But if it becomes an obsession then that will become the main point of your trip and you will miss a lot of the enjoyment that makes hiking the A.T. such a great experience. Any one on the trail who preaches being a purist to others is generally avoided so keep in mind that not everyone on the trail views hiking every single step as their life's goal.

As far as breaks go, there are no set rules but if you want to be considered a purist to some degree than you will have to decide when you leave the trail and get back on whether you start in the very spot you left. To be considered a thru hiker you have to hike the trail in a calendar year and that allows plenty of time for breaks. What you will probably find is that you will fall into hiking with or near some group you have grown accustomed to and taking long breaks will distance you from them. Restarting after a 2 week break can seem like starting the trail anew because of the new group of hikers you will meet. Sometimes this can be fine if you need the time or you want to hike with others.

Slackpacking is up to you. There is nothing in the Ďrulesí that says you have to carry a 50 pound pack, certain clothes, or hike the trail all one way. If you slack a section you are still walking the trail so whatís the problem with that? I get concerned when thru hikers somehow get to believe that everyone on and near the trail should treat them special because they are hikers. Common decency and respect for the property of others you meet on and off the trail will make your hike more enjoyable and leave a good impression with others who view you as a representative of the thru hiker community.

The best advice I can give you is start with a concept that you feel comfortable with but be flexible enough to change your view if what you are doing doesn't seem to be giving you what you want to get from your hike. Everything looks good on paper but when you actually put theory into practice, things may change. Good luck.

Blue Jay
03-02-2004, 13:32
Mad River,
To be considered a thru hiker you have to hike the trail in a calendar year and that allows plenty of time for breaks.

Therefore if you do not complete every inch in 365.2136532 days (not the actual number but this is clearly important) you are NOT a thruhiker. 365.9 days its over, slink back in disgrace. Why does everyone who says Hike your own hike, always has to follow it up with, but.............. I know, I know, we MUST HAVE RULES or our heads will explode. Again I say Hike your own hike, period, end of sentence, no buts. At least if you're going to be a purist go the full insane route. Full pack, lick every whiteblaze, study all others for transgressions, no weddings, bunting or stealing bases, snear a lot.

steve hiker
03-02-2004, 14:10
You'll find your answer in the Rules and Regulations thread.

Skeemer
03-02-2004, 14:15
Some great comments above and a thoughtful answer (as usual) from Old Fahrt. There is a "Cardinal Rule" on the Trail...Hike Your Own Hike. Do whatever you will feel good about...and don't let a few "egomaniacs" get to you.

When I finished at Katahdin, I made a comment in my journal that I would "miss the Trail when I got home." Along the way I had hitched into towns quite often and ate well. Some smart ass nameless coward sent me a message saying, "whenever I got to missing the Trail I should throw on my back pack and go the nearest restaurant for a steak dinner." Guess he thought I wasn't spending enough time on the Trail eating packed food "per his definition" to allow me to make that statement. My point being, I hiked every foot of the Trail and feel great about my hike. I will return to hike it again and again cause I enjoy it...not to please others.

BJ, I see your point, but MadRiver was asking a technical question..."what is considered a purist?" Although we all pretty much chimed in that he should not worry what others think and "HYOH", some still wanted to answer the question "what is considered a purist?" That is unless one believes "being a purist is doing whatever they themselves want." Anyone, feel free to comment, but I don't think they are one in the same. You can still HYOH and not be a "purist." Maybe what everyone is saying is to find the defintion of a purist that makes you happy, then that will allow you to HYOH.

The Old Fhart
03-02-2004, 15:12
Mad River,
You can see from the Blue Jayís post that there are some, thankfully few, that get apoplectic when you try to discuss what the accepted definitions are, as I tried to do in answering your question. Everyone pretty much agrees that a section hike is completing the trail over several years (no limit other than your lifetime) and that a thru hike is doing it in one calendar year. I didnít have any input into the definition and Iím not sure why stating what is generally accepted as a thru hike would so aggravate some people. Having both sectioned hiked and thru hiked the trail I can say that neither one is a higher or greater form of hiking over the other.

Here is what the ATC has to say on their web page:

"2,000-Miler" Definition
The ATC confers the designation of "2,000-miler" on any hiker who reports he or she walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. We use the term "2,000-miler" as a matter of tradition and convenienceóthat's the original length of the Trail, and changing the designation each time the length changes would be impractical.

Our recognition policy does:
* give equal recognition to thru-hikers and section-hikers, recognize blue-blazed trails or officially required roadwalks as viable substitutes for the official, white-blazed route in the event of an emergency, such as a flood, a forest fire, or an impending storm on an exposed, high-elevation stretch, and
* operate on the honor system.

Our recognition policy does not consider:
* sequence,
* direction,
* speed, or
* whether one carries a pack.

ATC assumes that those who apply for 2,000-miler status have made honest efforts to walk the Appalachian Trail from Katahdin to Springer Mountain.

Everyone pretty much agrees that you should hike your own hike and I have tried to answer you question as have most of the other posters. Keep in mind that you generally wonít meet people who canít have a civil discussion on the trail. Most differences disappear when you start hiking.


by Blue Jay "Therefore if you do not complete every inch in 365.2136532 days (not the actual number but this is clearly important)............"
And just to clear up an error for those who are so bent on accuracy, Blue Jay, the year is now 365.25964 days long and increases in length by 0.1365 seconds per century. That is not opinion, it is science.

Peaks
03-02-2004, 18:01
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on what a Purist hike is. Truefully, it probably more a state of mind rather than a rigid set of rules.

I think that most agree it's a hike that goes past almost every white blaze. Exceptions to going past every white blaze might include going into a shelter on one path and coming out on a different path. I think that most people agree that anyone who yellow blazes is not a Purist. Other than that, it really gets down to details. And that starts the whole debate, which can be lengthy.

Rain Man
03-02-2004, 18:54
... a thru hike is doing it in one calendar year. ...

This weekend on Springer I heard tell of a couple who just completed a SOBO hike, through the winter. What does that do to the "calendar year" idea?

Apparently we might need some Philadelphia lawyers (as my pappy used to say), to write out all the rules! LOL

Rain Man


:dance

.

jec6613
03-02-2004, 19:02
I'd consider a purist someone who makes a good faith effort to pass by every white blaze on a single hike without any long breaks (funerals, of course, are definitely an exception to this rule, and weddings usually too so long as you head back to the trail in a reasonable period of time).


Now, of course, that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with blue blazing or sectional hiking or anything else for that matter, it's all personal preference and you still get the 2000 miles done. However, a purist implies someone who tries to do everything as perfectly as possible, the hard old fasioned way.


And if you do the entire hike without a single resupply and white blazing the entire way, I'd consider that an ultra purist ... but I don't think anyone's ever done that in recent memory.

Doctari
03-02-2004, 19:36
I absoluutly disagree with everyone, a pure hike means NO stops, even to re-supply. You MUST start at Springer or Kathadin with ALL of your supplies, and finish your hike with NO deviation from the trail!! :bse



OK, hopefully you know that I am only kidding. Actually, My HHO is as long as you made every effort to stay on the official trail as it stands at that particular moment, you are a pure hiker. Notice I didn't say thru hiker, as it stands, much of what I have hiked in the previous years is no longer AT, or even trail. By my count at least 30 miles of the 400 I have covered since 97. So if you were to follow the hard fast rule, I should have to re-hike all those re routes. Some were even re-routed a few weeks after or before I passed thru. Hike your own hike, just don't do a "Bryson".
BTW: The only place you need to be almost as pure as my above joke is the Smokies, where in order to not have a "By reservation only" permit (be self registered as a Thru hiker) you are supposed to be allowed only one day off trail to resupply and have started & ended your hike 50 miles before/after you enter/leave the park.

Doctari.

The Old Fhart
03-02-2004, 20:10
For those who would like to see how some others have wrestled with the definitions of thru hiking, etc., check: "Slackpacking, Purity, and Hiking Your Own Hike" at http://www.oc.edu/staff/phil.heffington/Purity.htm and the "Slackpackerís Lexicon" at htttp://www.slackpacker.com/lexicon.html. Both these links are interesting and informative.

I would also like to thank Rainman for pointing out a poorly used choice of terms on my part. Although I used the term 'calendar year', I meant the length of a calendar year which is generally about 365 days and I used the term to mean just that. This would, of course, mean hikers starting in Maine in September and finishing in Georgia in March would be thru hikers. Any more or less continuous hike from end-to-end in 365 days would fit what others have defined as a thru hike. Calendar year actually means January 1st to December 31st of the same year and wasn't what I meant.

And a note to Doctari: I donít see why you would feel obliged to go back to rehike a sectioned that was reloíd. When you hiked it, it was the trail and it changed after you hiked it. That can happen even within the same hiking season. There have been hikers who have met trail maintainers coming in the opposite direction on the trail painting over white blazes as they finished a relo. Just my opinion but I donít see it as a problem.

Doctari
03-02-2004, 20:15
And a note to Doctari: I donít see why you would feel obliged to go back to rehike a sectioned that was reloíd. When you hiked it, it was the trail and it changed after you hiked it. That can happen even within the same hiking season. There have been hikers who have met trail maintainers coming in the opposite direction on the trail painting over white blazes as they finished a relo. Just my opinion but I donít see it as a problem.

Yea, me either!

In sooth, Twas me point. :jump

Thanks anyway.

Anon.

Doctari.

MadRiver
03-03-2004, 09:05
Thank you all for you responses. I have one more point that needs clarification. Someone mentioned hiking blue and yellow blazes as being bad or non-purist, what do you mean by that? When Iím hiking in the White Mountains and if Iím on the AT I notice that the spur trails to some shelters are blue. Other trails that are not officially part of the AT are usually yellow. Are you saying you cannot hike them, or if you do, you must retrace your steps back to your original entry point? I know Iím being extremely anal on this point, so please bear with me.

deeddawg
03-03-2004, 09:22
Thank you all for you responses. I have one more point that needs clarification. Someone mentioned hiking blue and yellow blazes as being bad or non-purist, what do you mean by that? When Iím hiking in the White Mountains and if Iím on the AT I notice that the spur trails to some shelters are blue. Other trails that are not officially part of the AT are usually yellow. Are you saying you cannot hike them, or if you do, you must retrace your steps back to your original entry point? I know Iím being extremely anal on this point, so please bear with me.

Yellow blazing is referring to riding in a car/truck/etc to a point further up the trail, thereby skipping a section whether to avoid a difficult part or to catch up with some friends. The yellow markings on the asphalt are the "yellow blazes".

Blue blazing refers to using alternate/side trails to avoid a portion of the AT. For example, taking the side trail around a mountain instead of the AT over the top of it. Regarding shelters, some would think you should retrace your steps back to the original spot you left the AT to go to a shelter; others would think it's no big deal to miss that short piece of the AT since you're still hiking.

Again, it all boils down to what YOU feel is a "pure" hike if such is important to you. You will never please *everyone* on the trail, there will always be someone who thinks "their way" is the only "real" way to hike the trail -- you'll go batty trying to live up to others standards.

It's kind of like the debates about whether someone should hike the Approach Trail from all the way from the Amicalola Visitor Center, or get a ride up to the falls, or get a ride to FS42 just north of Springer. By the time you get to Maine, who cares?

:banana

Blue Jay
03-03-2004, 09:25
No, you step on a yellow blaze trail you die. I know there are actual yellow blazes on the trees but the "accepted" meaning of yellow blazing is hitch hiking. I know it does not make sense, but purism is a funny disease.