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  1. #1
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Default why do Most people really attempt an AT thru hike?

    I am not asking why you or I attempt a thru hike but why does the average person so want to hike from Springer to Katahdin? ATC stats show that 2500 or so left Springer Mountain in 2014 intending on hiking to Katahdin. A full 50 % were done by Harper's Ferry.. just over 1000 miles up the trail.
    This suggest to me that most of the hikers didn't know what they were getting into.

    Beyond these 2500, some crazy higher number must be thinking of hiking the trail. What brings so darned many to this trail? is it just publicity or is it more than that?


    And what ever hiking the trail " to seek fellowship with the wilderness) as the plaque on Springer says. I don't think most thru hikers are seeking fellowship with the wilderness.

  2. #2
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    I think people romanticize it. It's by far the most well-known long trail, countless books and movies have been made about it, and it's accessible.

    I'd also venture to say most people who attempt a thru-hike are not experienced backpackers, hence the higher attrition rate.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wülfgang View Post
    I think people romanticize it. It's by far the most well-known long trail, countless books and movies have been made about it, and it's accessible.

    I'd also venture to say most people who attempt a thru-hike are not experienced backpackers, hence the higher attrition rate.
    yes. fantasy and reality are 2 different things

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    because it's there.

  5. #5
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    PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! party!!!!!!!!!! party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. #6
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    I did it to change my life, a 2000+ mile doorway to a better life.

    To me the AT is meant for many of us, but society has stopped them from this path (there are also other such paths of life). Now more and more are forgoing conventional wisdom and attempting it, it is a spiritual evolution of humanity (not just the AT, but people really living life, and the AT thru is more living life then many people do in a lifetime).

    So it is a calling of life, of really living, and a diminishing of conventional views of what is needed for one to do.

  7. #7
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    Peace and Quiet.......it beats the crap out of hot yoga.... H'om. Ohm. Om. $#!% I don't know what one is right and it is pizzing me off. I gotta hike soon.

  8. #8
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    I believe that most people want to achieve things.

    The majority of thru-hike attempts are started with the desire to achieve something. Exactly what that something is varies from one individual to the next, but the commonality is the desire for that achievement.

  9. #9

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    Adventure.
    (and a good one at that)
    I wouldn't stress so much over other people's reasons for doing something that you like to do.
    Either do it, or find a better adventure.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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    adventure
    party
    dont want to get a job
    its easy logistically

  11. #11
    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    How can any of us state with any certainty why someone other than ourselves attempts to thru-hike? Any answer is just projection.
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckahoe View Post
    How can any of us state with any certainty why someone other than ourselves attempts to thru-hike? Any answer is just projection.
    furthermore, there are a few of us who aren't even sure why we thru hiked, let alone anyone else.

  13. #13
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    I see that you have in your avatar that you thru-hiked. Why did you do it, and why do you think that others did it for a different reason?

    Is the thinking of someone who's been hiking for a lot of weekends and never thru-hiked relevant? For whatever it's worth:

    I've thought about it, and never done it. I've never thought I could walk away from my life and responsibilities for six months. I suspect that I never will be able to, and I'm cool with that. What I do for my family, my friends, my church, my community are part of who I am, and I'm not just going to drop them beside a trailhead. But if I were to go off for half a year's hiking, it would be partly to prove one thing to myself.

    You see, I've had far too many years of parents, teachers, bosses telling me that I'm 'undisciplined,' even at times that I'm outperforming peers. (I've been 25 years with the same company, so the lack of discipline can't have hurt me too terribly much!) I hear things like, "If only you applied yourself, you could...," always listing some goal that isn't my goal. Something that someone thinks I should want. Some rainbow that I'm not willing to spend a lifetime of dedication chasing.

    For me, if a thru-hike were ever to happen, it would be partly about showing myself that I can do something that broad society believes is intrinsically difficult, that requires some self-denial, that needs the discipline of doing something that's physically and spiritually challenging day after day, and do it for no better reason than that I want to do it. Not to save the world - I do my share of pro bono work - not to climb the ladder - I rather like my rung, thank you - but just to be self-motivated for once. For no better reason than, "it's hard, and I want to try."
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  14. #14

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    Most people say in the first page of their trail journal why they want to hike.
    No projection about it

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Most people say in the first page of their trail journal why they want to hike.
    No projection about it
    But do they still think that was the reason by the last page?
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  16. #16
    Registered User CELTIC BUCK's Avatar
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    Maybe for each it is a unique reason; none of us want to be too alike. Adventure & a walk thru America comes to my mind.

  17. #17

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    The real question is what has caused the sudden surge in interest in thru hiking the AT? Why have all these people decided this is something they always wanted to do? The individual reason is only a justification. Maybe "The Internet"?
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #18
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Another Kevin.. why did I want to thru hike the AT? since you asked..

    I had been reading books about the trail for years watched several movies on it and attended the LDHA gatherings in Hanover a couple times. For me it was the chance for adventure the chance to experience wilderness for an extended period of time. Going out west to do the PCT would have been logistically a lot harder and probably more than I was up for. If I could reverse time and go back.. I probably would do a different trail.. something perhaps like the Colorado Trail which only takes a month or so but has spectacular scenery. Or maybe Id just do the New England portion of the AT. Had I known before that the AT had become the party trail that it is I would likely have changed plans. But that is all water over the bridge. I DID do the trail and have a lot of great memories of it. Ive seen the best of eastern wilderness.

  19. #19
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    They have never seen the Rockies or the Sierras or the Cascades.
    They actually believed the myth that a person had to hike the AT first. Followed by the PCT. Then, and only then, could they attempt the CDT.
    They read somewhere that re-supply points on the western trails could be a whole week apart. Perhaps farther.
    They knew that nobody could carry enough food for a week. In a bear canister?
    They learned that their tiny alcohol stoves could be banned on the western trails.
    A person could loose cell phone service for days at a time.
    There were no shelters on the CDT and PCT. A hiker had to carry their own shelter, know how to use it and find a place to camp all by themselves.

    No, the long western trails are far too uncivilized.

    Wayne


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  20. #20
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    Asking these questions have no definitive answers. I'll opine anyway.

    As a AT thru-hiker and many time AT section hiker having met and observed many many AT thru-hikers(literally 1000's upon 1000's), and those labeling themselves as AT thru-hikers, I've asked many what motivated them to thru-hike the AT and then listening to/pondering the answers. There is no generalized answer as to why. The answers given are all over the place. In AT thru-hiker trail journal after trail journal the "whys" are varied. This will not deter some from trying to place AT thru-hikers motivations into neat acceptable easy to understand categories though.

    What I observe for the overwhelming majority of AT thru-hikers is this is their first thru-hike or their longest duration and longest distance hike to date. In short, these are Newbie LD hikers.

    As such, there is no doubt AT thru-hikers, and all the many that label themselves as such, often have rude eye opening awakenings as they come to learn what they imagined, or failed to imagine, is different than the realities of being on trail thru-hiking the AT. It's why MANY go home - back to the familiar where they feel more comfortable.

    A requirement of successful LD hiking, thru-hiking if you like, defining success as actually completing the hike as originally intended, is the ability to expand comfort zones, to be willing to embrace and overcome uncertainty - the unknown. To be a regular successful LD hiker desiring fresh experiences as an adventurer and explorer, not simply approaching this desire by bouncing to different well known trails experiencing the journey much as one has before, such as what is typical for those that go on to attempt other thru-hikes after having thru-hiked the AT do, one can't become complacent either. It requires continual comfort zone expansion by further continuing to delve deeper into the unfamiliar, embracing it, accepting, and overcoming all that can come your way.

    It is no doubt to me many AT thru-hikers elect to hike the AT because of publicity. They hike this trail because they can associate with the accomplishment, that many others have thru-hiked it before, and because it is so well known, endlessly opined upon, over analyzed and over documented. It offers a good a dose of familiarity, association, and recognition for a first time LD hiker while offering opportunities for some degree of independence, self actualization, drastic departure from the norms, and a bit of adventure and exploration.

    After having the great fortune to be able to compare the "wildness" of the AT with hikes in remote locations, where no evidence of humans having gone before exist, where there is no trail, where most would have a hard to impossible time relating as no trail acronym/rocker/patch/diploma/noted summit picture/dedicated website/massive endless opining/public acknowledgement as to one's accomplishment and ego imagined greatness exists, no footprints, no blazes, no signage, no thru-hiker trail guide book, no one to ask how to get unlost, no road crossings, no established campsites, no trail shelters, no trailside pizza deliveries, where one is not at the top of the food chain, etc - it is you, map(s), and compass - the "trail" being where one is standing - being enjoyed, appreciated, respected, and left in a LNT No Wake zone- I have arrived at the current perspective, thru-hiking the AT has some wildness, perhaps arguably, wilderness aspect to it, but far from true wilderness. Saying all that, I refuse to debate, judge or qualify other's "fellowshipping with the wilderness" experiences based on how I choose to experience or define it for myself.

    However, make no mistake, regardless of how "wilderness" or "fellowshipping with the wilderness" is defined, - communing with Nature, fellowshipping with that which is wild is unequivocally possible on the AT. HYOH not HMHDI

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