View Full Version : Late finishers......positive attitude

Jack Tarlin
09-17-2009, 16:59
Just wanted to share something with you guys. It takes most folks 33-40 days to get from Hanover NH (where I live) to Katahdin. Typically, it's 36-39.

What this means, since it's 17 September as I write this, hikers that are in town now will, in all likelihood, NOT make it to Baxter State Park by October 15th.

And in truth, this is fine. Contrary to what some folks think, you don't HAVE to finish by 15 October; the Park does not close on that date, it merely closes to overnight camping. I know of many hikers who have finished their hikes after that date. The risk of poor weather certainly increases the later one goes into the fall, but they can certainly still finish.

The reason I brought this up: I've met several Northbound hikers the past few days and we talked quite a bit about finish dates, and their attitude was very refreshing: They know they won't make it by the 15th and they don't particularly care. As one put it, "Katahdin isn't going anywhere". They said they plan to enjoy the rest of their hike, maintain a pace that is both prudent and enjoyable, and not worry about the calendar. They looked forward to spending some extra time here in Hanover and when I pointed out that maybe they couldn't afford too much time off at this point, one of them quite rightly corrected me by saying he wasn't on a schedule, he didn't care if he got to Katahdin on Halloween, and that he liked Hanover and would take time off whenever he felt like it.

And of course he's right. Thru-hikers like to think they don't have a real schedule, but the reality is that of course they do, and the "October 15th!!" finish date reaches mythical proportions.

Don't get me wrong......there comes a point where one better start looking at the calendar, and I personally wouldn't wanna go thru the Whites later than early October, but I think it's great that this late in the season, there are still hikers whose attitude is "I'll finish when I finish, I'll hike when I want,
I'm not gonna kill myself with extra miles, and I'll take some down time whenever I want".

I think this a great attitude for the first days of one's hike, and I think it's an even better attitude 140 days later.

I hope these guys have a very happy Halloween!!

09-18-2009, 22:38
A very wise post, Jack.

09-18-2009, 23:30
I think think every thru-hiker has two people that are the most important to please: the person they are now, and the person they will become.

If they are happy with what they are doing now, and if they'll be happy with those decisions in the coming years, then they've done the right thing.

09-18-2009, 23:35
Great post Jack. Why be rushed, for many this is a once in a lifetime experience.

09-19-2009, 08:10
I think early October is the best time to be in Maine with the fall colors. I have actually taken a "break" from the trail and plan to head back in about a week to finish the rest of Maine so that I can enjoy the fall colors. I expect some bad weather, but to me it will be worth it.

09-20-2009, 10:24
it's funny to see the top 2 posts in this forum are yours charlie brown.

1 is condemning thru hikers for being both "needy" and "little".
2 is congradulating thru hikers for having good attitudes as they approach the finish

Jack Tarlin
09-20-2009, 11:08
Well, I guess some folks need condemning and some others need congratulating. :D

And happily the first group is not as big as you might think.

09-20-2009, 12:19
how can anyone have a positive attitude on the AT!! congrats to these hikers.... :)

Crazy Larry #1
09-20-2009, 12:23
good post and thoughts Jack.....

09-20-2009, 13:53
Question: y would anyone camp without staying overnight? and one step further: if you cant camp vernight, can you technically camp during the day and hike at night?

Jack Tarlin
09-20-2009, 14:35
I'm assuming you're talking about rules and regulations at Baxter State Park.

It's pretty simple: You cannot stay overnight in the Park after 15 October, i.e. the Park is open and one can still visit and hikre, but one is limited to day use. What this generally means for the late finisher is that they show up at the main gate to the Park VERY early in the morning, get a day-use permit, climb Katahdin and then leave the Park in late afternoon. This is cumbersome and makes for a long day, but it can certainly be done. (An alternative would be to camp on the southern boundary of the Park just past Abol Bridge, proceed to Katahdin, climb it, and again leave in the late afternoon, but this would be a VERY long day for most folks, and would probably entail some night hiking).

Complete information on rules, regulations, permits, fees, etc. can be found at