View Full Version : 2000 milers?

Soggy Feet
12-23-2002, 02:44
I'm curious as to the number of people who blue blaze and yellow blaze extensively during a "thru-hike", but still claim 2000-miler status. During my SOBO thru-hike this year, I ran into quite a few yellow-blazing hikers. One of which I know skipped at least 300 miles, but still applied for his 2000-miler status at Walasi-Yi.

Is this a common practice to apply for a 2,000 miler patch if you're really a 1,700 or 1,800 miler? I thought 2,000 miler status was reserved for those who have completed the ENTIRE Appalacian Trail. If it's commonplace to apply for 2,000-miler when you really aren't, then it really diminishes the value of the 2,000 miler status, for those who have actually acheived it. I definitely subscribe to the idea of "hike your own hike", but when blue and yellow blazers get done with their hikes, they shouldn't claim to have hiked the whole AT if they have not.

12-23-2002, 02:58
Soggy Feet, you yourself may be claiming to be when you actually are not...it is an honor system. Me, well I am a purist, even retrace my steps back to the trail from the shelter when I could have blue blazed 20 feet but my word is only as good as yours. In my profession we have to get CE and we can be audited. It may come a time when the ATC will audit those who claim 2000miler status or claim to be thru-hikers but I doubt it...in the real world there are still vast portions of our American populatin who have never even heard of the Appalachian Trail! Yep it sucks when anyone presents themselves to us as something they are not, whether it be surgeon, pilot, educator, or 2000miler.

Lone Wolf
12-23-2002, 05:13
I get a kick out of reading the AT news each year when they print the names of hikers that claim to have done the whole trail. Hell I can always find people I blue-blazed with each year. Yet they get thier patches and certificates.

12-23-2002, 09:41
My answer to this question is NOT, "The mad bragging rights, oh and look at this awesome certificate!" Personal pride and accomplishment is far more important. Even the people who have yellow blazed, silver blazed, blue blazed, or aqua blazed have accomplished something real and important to them. If they feel they deserve a certificate, than by all means!

SGT Rock
12-23-2002, 11:22
Think about it this way: anyone can apply, even if they haven't hiked the trail at all. It's totally an honor system, as it should be.If it were any other systm, there would be a buerocratic system in place that would annoy the hell out of most hikers who would give up on it anyway. From what I can see, most hikers are interested in hiking there own hike and already hate Post Office hours, imagine if you had to get stamps every 10 miles or something equally as stupid.

Anyway, the end result is it is a personal thing to get the patch, certificate, or whatever. It isn't like you can wear it on your jacket and use it for free parking at the mall.

Jack Tarlin
12-23-2002, 17:10
Answer to Soggy Feet:

Not many of the hikers who report into Harper's Ferry each year to have their "thru-hike" recorded for posterity have actually done the whole trail. Virtually everyone skips something.
According to the ATC's figures in recent years, something like 15-18% of the folks who set out each year to hike the entire trail report in that they have done so. In my opinion, based on having spend a ton of time on the Trail since 1995, and from having come in contact with, met, or having hiked with thousands of folks, I'd say the actual "completion" figure is less than 3% of those who start.
Or to put it another way: The vast majority of folks who claim "thru-hiker" status in recent years, and who've taken the time and trouble to report into Harper's in order to get a completion certificate and a 2,000-mile patch, have, in fact, NOT hiked the entire trail, and have NOT, in fact, thru-hiked.
A thru-hike, by anyone's definition, is a hike of the entire trail in one continuous journey, as opposed to completing the trail over the course of several years. "Entire" means just what it says:
entire, i.e. whole, complete, un-cut, etc.
Everyone has to decide for themselves, of course, what they want their trip to be, and how they choose to hike it. I just wish some folks would be a bit more honest with themselves and everyone else. Most of the folks who've reported into Harper's in recent years have NOT, in fact, hiked the entire trail, yet they still insist that they've thru-hiked. Personally, I feel that if it's not important enough to you to hike the whole thing, then it shouldn't be important to you to report in and claim that you did, and, in fact, you should NOT do this if you've still some miles to do. If you really want that 2,000-miler patch, then do the right thing-----earn it.
Something to think about, maybe, for the Class of 2003.....

Hammock Hanger
12-23-2002, 17:12
I've been hiking all this time, all those miles, and I DON'T get free parking at the Mall!!! What was the sense in that??


Hammock Hanger

Lone Wolf
12-23-2002, 17:19
I'm with Jack on this one. I've hiked approx. 16,000 miles on the AT since 1986 and I've still not hiked certain white-blaze sections. No patch or certificate for me. There's a ****load of patch wearing posers out there. Just go to an ALDHA gathering, you'll meet plenty.

12-23-2002, 20:20
So what's the answer to Soggy Feet's question?

Are the majority of those who lay false claim to 2000 miler status doing so because they have yellow-blazed sections and walked only 1700 or 1800 miles, or because they walked over the top of Eisenhower?

Rick B

Lone Wolf
12-23-2002, 20:31
Eisenhower is not on the AT, correct? So if one opts to blue-blaze and hike over Eisenhower and miss a section of white-blaze AT then that person can't claim to have hiked the AT. Just most of it.

12-23-2002, 22:13
I hiked the entire trail and was really looking forward to the patch & certificate. When I finally got them, it was very anticlimactic. They're somewhere in a box right now in my new home in TN. I forget which box. My memories are what I cherish.

12-23-2002, 23:48
Hammock Hanger: I've been hiking all this time, all those miles, and I DON'T get free parking at the Mall!!! What was the sense in that??

maybe they figured youd walk. :cool:

sorry had to say it. :rolleyes:

Hammock Hanger
12-24-2002, 00:02
however, the mall is 6 WHOLE miles away on very flat terrain. Don't think I could make it that far.


12-24-2002, 00:07
oh yes, i understand perfectly.

Soggy Feet
12-24-2002, 01:01
Thanks to all who have replied. It's great to hear what others think about this subject.

12-24-2002, 01:16
My longest day ever on the AT was 26 miles but isnt it funny that when my mom or girlfriend get me to the Mall my feet start killing me after 20 minutes! I'm serious they really hurt, not just my excuse to get outta there

12-24-2002, 08:16
Originally posted by dachonkin
...when my mom or girlfriend get me to the Mall my feet start killing me after 20 minutes!
The worst foot pain I felt on my hike was on the C&O trail just north of Harpers Ferry. You'd be hard pressed to find a flatter section of trail on the entire AT, and it just killed my feet.

12-28-2002, 10:44
Once again I have to agree with Baltimore Jack;
During my 2001 thru I wasn't realy a thru-hiker. I had first attempted to do a thru in 2000 but after reaching Fontana I had to leave the trail,with a stress fracture. I returned to Fontana in 2001 to continue my hike. When others asked me if I was a thru-hiker I would reply "no", I was just hiking north hopeing to get to Maine.
I never took a ride, yellow blazed, or skipped sections and I did walk from Georgia to Maine. Did I follow every blaze? No, I did not. But I did apply to the ATC for a certificate of compleation and proud of what I did hiking.
I did meet a whole lot of claimed, thru-hikers who skipped sections, yellow blazed or never finished to the end that also claimed to have thru-hiked. They are only kidding themselves and they are realy kidding themselves.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is; It's your hike and only you will know how you hiked it.

12-28-2002, 22:59
Future thru hikers who think that they might sign the application that will get them listed as a 2000 Miler might want to consider reading the application form before they start thier hikes. You can see a copy at www.atconf.org.

Rick B

12-28-2002, 23:26
This program is ridiculous ........ and so is anyone that hikes for recognition. You should hike because you want to. Years ago completing the AT was a big thing. Today its nothing, nobody gives a ratz ass whether you hike 2000 miles or not ( its been done by thousands before you ) I think the 2000 miler program has ran its course. What do you think?

12-29-2002, 10:25
Originally posted by Easyhiker
This program is ridiculous ........ and so is anyone that hikes for recognition. You should hike because you want to. Years ago completing the AT was a big thing. Today its nothing, nobody gives a ratz ass whether you hike 2000 miles or not ( its been done by thousands before you ) I think the 2000 miler program has ran its course. What do you think?

Just doing a few miles on the AT is more walking than the average or typical person does in a year.

Second, many people dream of hiking the AT, but very few actually do it. It's still an accomplishment to be proud of, and the adventure of a lifetime.

The progam hasn't run its course at all

12-29-2002, 11:22
If you are intent on being a purist,(every white blaze, end to end, single season),what if you come to a section that is closed? (Fire, relo, etc.)Walk around to the next accessible white blaze, and hike back in as far as possible? Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I'm curious what Jack and others have to say.

Hammock Hanger
12-29-2002, 11:57
should a section be offically closed then it is proper to skip up to the next accessible blazed area. (There was a section closed due to fire near Palmerton this past season.)-- Of course that would mean that should you arrive at Katahdin after it is offically shut down for winter that you would be able to complete your hike at it's base. For me that would be so anticlimatic. HH

Lone Wolf
12-29-2002, 12:57
Katahdin never closes. On Oct. 15th the campgrounds shut down and the park is open for day use only till Nov. 1st. Then it is closed to vehicle traffic. Open to foot and snowmobile traffic after that.

Hammock Hanger
12-29-2002, 13:07
True it is a misconception that it closes. However, once foul weather comes it becomes much more difficult to get approval from the Rangers to ascend. HH

12-29-2002, 14:27
There was fire around Glasgow, VA as well this year. A ten mile section was closed down and the Forest Service was shuttling people around that section. The Forest Service criss-crossed yellow caution tape across the trail so that you knew where the fire area started.

I saw a few things happing. Most people got shuttled around the fire area, with a few planning to come back later to finish that section. A few people just took to the road and walked to the next open section. And then there were the handful of people that hiked through the fire area.

12-29-2002, 14:52

The forest service was actually threatening to have hikers arrested if any more hikers crossed that line since some had.

I didn't hear if any actually got locked up.

12-29-2002, 17:26
I didn't hear of any that got locked up, but I had heard that they were trying to locate certain hikers by the shelter registers to "talk" to them.

The ridgerunner in that area was reporting the hikers that were bragging in the shelters about their escapades.

12-29-2002, 19:02
When I entered the James River Face Wilderness, I could see the wildfire off to the west. However, at that time the trail was not closed. I spent the night at a shelter in there, and when I crossed the James River the next morning, I found out that the trail had been closed while I was in there.

Jack Tarlin
12-30-2002, 17:19
Sections of the Trail that are officially designated as CLOSED (by either the Park Service, the ATC or affiliated clubs, State Park Rangers, etc. do NOT count as part of the Trail for that year; it's as tho they don't exist; when a section is designated as "closed" it is not considered part of the Trail until it is re-opened. This means if you're FORCED to by-pass a section for whatever reason---fire, flooding, mud slides, etc., you have technically NOT skipped anything, i.e., provided you stick to the Trail other than these officially closed sections, you're still considered a thru-hiker.

12-30-2002, 18:28
If one reads the 2000 Miler application, the ATC states that "blue blaze or officially required roadwalks are considered viable substitutes" to the white blazed route in the event of an emergency such as a flood fire or impending storm on an exposed high elevation stretch.

Some people, like WF, take Jack's approach and interpret this to mean simply that the trail "no longer exists" and that one can hitch around the section of closed Trail and still meet the ATC's 2000 Miler Requirements. They tend to ignore the the ATC's call for a "viable substitute", ie. the blue blaze or roadwalk the speak of.

Perhaps they are right. I really don't want to split hairs here. Everyone seems to put thier own spin on the ATC's requirements. I think that WF's guide, for example intentionally misquotes the ATC's posted requirments which can be found at:


WF decided he didn't like the part of the requirements where the ATC added that it assumes everyone make an honest effort to walk the entire official trail, even if he fails to walk by every blaze. WF like so many others, put his spin on things by changing the ATC's statement.

In my opinion, that bit of wiggle-room was added to the ATC's 2000 Miler definition a few years ago because some of us hair-splitters were arguing that Earl Schaffer didn't meet the earlier requirements (he wrote the ATC that he took the wrong trail in the Whites because his map didn't arrive in time). Even though we did so to point out some of the foolishness of hairsplitting. Yea, I am a hair splitter but common sense says Earl Schaffer should be listed as a 2000 miler on his first hike.

My only real point is that EVERYONE seems to put his own spin on the 2000 Miler requirements. The thing is, that award is given out by the ATC and they set the rules, which they publish for everyone to see. Personally, how others interpret them is not a big deal to me, except to the extent it saddens me that people will lose honor over something so trivial as a 2000 Miler Certificate.

My contribution to this thread and future hikers is simply to suggest hikers know what they will be asked to sign for a 2000 Miler certificate, before they leave Springer. No reason to be surprised about that 100 miles or 2000 Miles down the Trail.

Rick B

Jack Tarlin
12-30-2002, 20:47
I agree with most of Rick's post.

However: There are occasions when a blue-blaze or a walk-around is not always possible, lawful, safe, or advisable.

In most cases, when a section of Trail is officially closed, for whatever reason, there is a newly blazed or designated alternate route. This happens on the Trail at least once a year due to fire, flood, trail washout, trail damage, development and encroachment on the Trail corridor, etc. In most cases, there is a clearly marked alternative to the section that has beed declared "closed." In some cases, tho, there isn't, and while the ATC may tell folks to find a "viable alternative" and walk it, this is not always feasible; for example, this past year, in the case of the Glasgow fire, many hikers were advised to NOT roadwalk the missing miles, as there was the distinct possibility of sections of the road being closed due to fire conditions thus putting pedestrians on the roadway at hazard; i.e., many hikers were told NOT to roadwalk the section, but instead to proceed safely to a point several miles away.

In cases like this, the ATC has always adopted the position that if a section of Trail in any given year is officially closed, then hikers may in good conscience "skip" that section, i.e., NOT include those missing miles as an official part of the A.T. in that particular year. The ATC also realizes that blue-blazing or road-walking to the next section of open trail is not always possible, so while the Conference advises folks to find a viable foot alternative to the actual Trail in the case of a closed section, they've never been insistent on this point.

My choice of the words "does not exist" was perhaps not the best; of course those miles and that terrain still "exists" even tho it is closed to hiking; however, in the eye of the ATC, when a section is "closed" to thru-hikers, they've always permitted folks to start out again at the next available "open" location and proceed from there.

The hundreds of hikers who skipped those miles near Glasgow this year, and proceeded with their hikes at the next available "open" location were not deciding or interpreting for themselves which "rules" applied to them; they were, in fact, obeying instructions from Park and law-enforcement personnel, and did so with the belief and assurance that it was not necessary to endanger one's life in order to maintain a "pure" hike, and in short, it was either foolish or, in same cases unlawful, to make the attempt.