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  1. #1
    I'm just chicken.
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    Default Considering an Alternative Thru-Hike for 2016

    I was planning a 2016 NOBO hike and really wanted to end my victorious hike on Katahdin at the end of my hike; HOWEVER, the reality of the crowded situation hit me a couple of days ago when I watched my first Appalachian Trail You Tube video of the beginning of someone's Springer to Katahdin Spring-start hike. Whoa! The introvert in me went into convulsions, spasms, rigors, etc., and I immediately began to reconsider. I know with 'the movie' coming out, the crowds will be worse in 2016.

    I was planning to enjoy a little bit of socializing on the trail, but I know I will be a basket case with the group-think party atmosphere of NOBO Spring-starting Hikers. NO OFFENSE to those people. Everyone is different, and that is okay. It's just not for me. I know only an introvert could understand this. I just know I'll be miserable with the crowds. Though I'd like plenty of time to contemplate the solitude of nature, I don't want to be totally alone, either.

    I'm considering some kind of alternative hike. I'm really concerned about water crossings. I'm of a woman of small stature, and this is one of my major concerns. I can push myself through physical challenges, but high, fast water crossings are something you can't push through with sheer grit if you are small.

    Though I'm working on hiking around home to get into shape, I'm really an inexperienced hiker, and have just started acquiring my gear. My second choice would be SOBO from Katahdin, but because of the above things, I'm thinking I should consider something else. Are there any hikers who successfully did SOBO as inexperienced hikers?

    I haven't seen any suggestions for starting at mid-point of the trail, hiking SOUTH, then hiking mid-point to Katahdin. Is this a possibility? I'm guessing the time table would not work out (or would be rushed?) to get to Katahdin before Oct. 15. If it IS a possibility, what would be the optimum time to do so weather-wise? I'm also concerned about the logistics and expense of doing alternative hikes, mainly travel to the next starting point.

    I'm not under any time constraints. I can leave at any time. Keeping the hike frugal is a concern.

    I'm open to any suggestions or opinions, links or websites.

    Thanks in Advance,
    Arkansas Traveler

  2. #2
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    Start at the half-way point, go to K, then either restart at Springer and go north, or restart at the half-way point and go south to Springer.

  3. #3

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    You cant start midway and go south due to weather and timing
    You would also cross paths with the hordes you want to avoid, only its worse going against flow rather than with them

  4. #4
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    You cant start midway and go south due to weather and timing
    You would also cross paths with the hordes you want to avoid, only its worse going against flow rather than with them
    +1. Spot on.

  5. #5
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    Many different options are available for an alternate hike: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...where-to-start
    Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, the Trail beckons not merely north and south, but upward to the body, mind, and soul of man.


  6. #6
    I'm just chicken.
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    I guess I was thinking that many of the NOBO's would have dropped out by the time we met up in opposite directions, but since you mentioned it, I can see you are probably right.

  7. #7
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klynn View Post
    I guess I was thinking that many of the NOBO's would have dropped out by the time we met up in opposite directions, but since you mentioned it, I can see you are probably right.

    Going with the flow, you meet the same people over and over. Going against the flow, you meet a much higher percentage of people, but usually only once.

  8. #8
    I'm just chicken.
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    I was just hoping to avoid the complication of having to find a way to work out the travel back to mid-point, but this will probably have to be my solution if I decide SOBO is not do-able for me.

    Thank you all for weighing in.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelCut View Post
    Many different options are available for an alternate hike: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...where-to-start
    Here are several viable alternative AT thru-hiking options explained. But, there are an infinite number of other possible viable options IF you apply some creativity while considering your desires.

    IMHO, there is a huge misconception that thru-hikers, specifically NOBO AT thru-hikers, head north up the trail in a huge party-like bubble. "Partying" thru-hikers, whatever that might mean, noting it means different things to different people, are ONLY ONE possible segment of AT thru-hikers. Many of those negatively characterizing AT thru-hikers as partyers are the middle aged and older folks, the folks who fail to recognize they too at one time could have likely been characterized as being partyers, delinquents, doing things anti-establishment, and being part of a culture that "kicked up its heels." Sure, there will be those AT thru-hikers that form cliques, smoke weed, kick up their heels more than others, drink alcohol, are noisy, like to crowd together, and will impose themselves on others in an incomprehensible number of ways. SURE, DO consider alternative AT thru-hiking strategies as a way to design a hike that best suits your personality and potentially addresses bubble related issues. But, also consider, as one that can vacillate back and forth between being very introverted at times and very extroverted at times on thru-hikes myself, desiring different trail experiences at different times as a result, YOU TOO can Hike Your Own Hike designing it in such way, that even if you thru-hike NOBO within the bubble you can enjoyably experience it as an introvert.

    It's not hard. It's been opined quite a few times here on WB. It takes imagination, observation as to the norms, and a willingness to think and act outside of the box. Regurgitating some recommendations: 1) Avoid regularly sleeping/camping at AT Lean--Tos and at obvious beaten down well used camping areas. Wandering off trail several hundred yards to camp in LNT style can present a whole new world of solitude. 2) Do more hiking in the very early morning starting before sunrise and after sunset - both times when not only the AT thru-hiker crowd numbers fall off precipitously but a whole other entire outdoors experience can be gained. During peak trail usage in the middle of the day occasionally wander off the AT to a secluded site to enjoy a book, embrace additional exploration/adventure, waterfall, tumbling creek, view, take a nap, eat, review trail logistics(upcoming potential campsites offering solitude, etc 3) Do a faster, OR A SLOWER, Thru-hike than the norm. Simply adjusting your personal trail mileage NOT in sync with the crowd can offer a change of trail environment allowing for hiking in front, within, and behind the bubble experiences. Depending on your current desires you can have multiple experiences all on one thru-hike.

    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
    Edward Abbey

  10. #10
    Registered User Donde's Avatar
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    Having SOBO'd and NOBO'd SOBO is where it's at. Start mid to late June, you won't be lonely, but it won't be a daily race for shelter space (though IMO shelters suck and camping is better anyway) either. Or if you have the time do two NOBO sections a little off season (fall in VA is pretty sexy) and really slow roll and enjoy. Last one there wins. Have fun good luck.

  11. #11
    I'm just chicken.
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    Steel Cut-Thank you for the link. I'm not sure how, but I missed it the first time. I have read it, and I'm going to read it again, study it and think about it. It is an awesome and thorough write-up on the subject of alternative hikes.

    Dogwood - Dern those middle aged hippies and old people, the dad-blasted hypocrites!

    I never said anything about 'the party hikers' or any other 'type of hiker' that I am trying to avoid, in fact, I don't think I saw anyone 'partying' in the video I mentioned, it was just a large group of people just 'hanging'. I don't think you understood what I meant by being an introvert. It has to do with an ingrained 'state of being' that is most comfortable for the person....not something that can be turned on or off... but this was not meant to be a discussion about introversion and extroversion.

    I'm relatively new to White Blaze, and I'm working my way around, so I'm sorry if my question seems a bit trite to the seasoned AT hikers here and exceedingly appreciate those who have taken the time to respond.

    That said, thank you for your thoughtful post, and also for the great suggestions! I think the suggestion to camp down the trail away from the shelters is an awesome one....as are the other suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to write them out.

    I'm hoping to take time to smell the flowers, enjoy a waterfall, etc., and I will most likely enjoy being an early morning hiker, too, so I also liked that suggestion as a way to have some solitude.

    I am looking forward to meeting all kinds of people on the trail, and I know that is a big part of the AT experience. My preference is just smaller groups of 1-5 people at a time....not 30-50. If someone offers me a Mary Jane, though, I'll probably bash them over the head with the Bible or something.

  12. #12
    I'm just chicken.
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    Thanks for weighing in Donde. I love the Fall. I appreciate hearing from someone who has experienced both ways.

  13. #13
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    I didn't say go south for the first part of the hike. What I did suggest for the 2nd half of the hike is to restart at the half-way point and go south or start at Springer (again, 2nd half of a thru) and go north to the original start point!

  14. #14
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    "I am looking forward to meeting all kinds of people on the trail, and I know that is a big part of the AT experience. My preference is just smaller groups of 1-5 people at a time....not 30-50."

    If that's you're preferred version of introversion/extroversion perversion you'll do fine as a AT thru-hiker no matter how you thru-hike as there is little need or regular occurrence where you will be part of 30-50 person group on the AT.

    Heck, you always have the Ouachita Tr, Ozark Highlands Tr, and Buffalo River Tr in your own home state not far from Marble Falls I just thru-hiked the under appreciated OT and a complete BRT thru to the OHT last yr having my own introverted state of mind times on the trail. I encountered not one other thru-hiker on all the the OT, BRT and the section of the OHT hiked. I know where you're from. I was planning a stop at Marble Falls but had to get back to work. I was near you in Pruitt and Jasper. I'm looking forward to when the Ozark Highlands Tr is trail connected to the Ozark Tr so an uninterrupted thru-hike from St Louis Missouri to Fayetteville Arkansas can be had.

  15. #15
    Registered User JaketheFake's Avatar
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    I am diving in head first at the end of March. Bubble or no bubble. I've been dreaming of a thru-hike attempt for 25 years and I'll be damned if a silly movie is going to cause me to alternate my plans. I do think some of the tips on here are worthy of digesting especially the ones about making your hike a little more secluded at certain times of the day .

  16. #16
    I'm just chicken.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfdoc View Post
    I didn't say go south for the first part of the hike. What I did suggest for the 2nd half of the hike is to restart at the half-way point and go south or start at Springer (again, 2nd half of a thru) and go north to the original start point!
    I understood. It was my not-so-bright idea to hike South for the first part of the hike. I was just brainstorming.

  17. #17
    I'm just chicken.
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    That's cool that you were in my area and that you hiked those trails! Actually, we moved here only a year ago, and we are very close to the Buffalo River. My city is Marble Falls, but we live closer to Pruitt. I've had very little time, yet, to explore the trails around here, but I am going to dot he BRT in the Fall to try out all of my gear.

  18. #18
    I'm just chicken.
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    I guess I just got spooked or something. I haven't made up my mind. I'm just exploring all possibilities. To me, it just seems like it will be anti-climactic to finish the trail anywhere but Katahdin at the end, and I'm having a hard time giving that idea up. I'm contemplating everything that has been said here, and I think there are some great suggestions.

    I think your attitude is a good one. I'm hoping the movie will be a flop, and no one will go see it. Can a Robert Redford flick flop?

    FWIW, I just moved to AR recently from Deer Park, a 'burb of Houston. The only thing I miss about living in Texas is Whataburger.

  19. #19
    Registered User JaketheFake's Avatar
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    That does not say much for a place when it is missed only for its regional fast food chain... But then again, that's missing Deer Park. Not exactly the bright shining star if Tejas.

  20. #20

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    I have all of the same concerns for all of the same reasons. Perhaps we should hike together thru Maine and lean on each other

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