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  1. #1

    Default Completing AT as a section hiker

    Whats the feeling as a section hiker to have completed the entire trail? I'm well on my way at just 2 years in, but I feel that there will be a great void in my life when there will never be another unseen white blaze. I have already gotten so that Im just about completely out of drivable AT for weekend 2 day trips. And so I have contacted Jim Chambers to see about how I can best give back to the trail.

    I want to do trail maintenance between Springer and Grayson Highlands perhaps once a month

    Do trail magic north of GSMNP

    And volunteer time at hostels on weekends as a caretaker/ Laborer.

    My plan is to complete the entire trail in the next 5 years, but be 50% done by this time next year.

    After its complete whats next?!
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  2. #2
    AT 2012
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    That feeling of void is probably pretty common -- I certainly felt it after the six years it took me to section hike the AT. I applaud your becoming an active trail maintainer. For me, the need to keep passing new blazes hasn't diminished. That has meant finding new trails to walk. Those new trails have been quite satisfying in a different way -- generally not so heavily travelled, not so well marked, not so well maintained -- all of which makes them interesting in their own way.
    Lazarus

  3. #3
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I just completed my 3-year effort this early October, fantastic overall experience! (~900 miles in 2013, ~500 in 2014, ~800 in 2015)

    But absolutely zero void felt, why would there be any void? Do you know how many other long distance trails are out there? I simply used the AT as a warmup... that being said, I'll probably return and do a couple "best of" along the AT again, like the Smokies, Grayson, the Whites and Maine. Wow, Maine.

    I, too, have more of an urge to help out with trails now, and that's easy out here with a couple fine organizations, like the CO 14er's Initiative and the CT foundation.

    Head West young man and take a hard look at all the possibilities!

    2016 for me hopefully will include a full CT (never done it as a thru) and I want to attempt the Sierra High Route, a trail parallel and above the JMT, in late summer/early fall.

  4. #4
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    After its complete whats next?!


    you're in tennessee-----you have plenty of options of what's next...

    there's enough hiking in this area to last a lifetime....

    think of all the places to hike within this region (and this is just a short list)..

    GSMNP, joyce kilmer, citico and slickrock, snowbirds, bald river area, standing indian, mount rogers, shining rock, big south fork, red river gorge, mount mitchell, linville gorge...........

    etc etc etc...

    the world of hiking is wide open in this area......

  5. #5

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    Take the Green Mountain Club's "Side to Side" concept and apply it to the AT

    Ought to keep you busy for a while and there's lots to be seen on those blue blazed trails too.
    “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready...”~Henry David Thoreau

    http://lesstraveledby.net
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    Trailspace Reviews

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    you're in tennessee-----you have plenty of options of what's next...

    there's enough hiking in this area to last a lifetime....

    think of all the places to hike within this region (and this is just a short list)..

    GSMNP, joyce kilmer, citico and slickrock, snowbirds, bald river area, standing indian, mount rogers, shining rock, big south fork, red river gorge, mount mitchell, linville gorge...........

    etc etc etc...

    the world of hiking is wide open in this area......
    Hopefully be time I finish it, I will have a youngen or 2 to go do it again with! haha
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  7. #7
    illabelle's Avatar
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    We too plan to finish the AT in 5 years, around Labor Day of 2020. And believe me, I can already feel the tug of the PCT and the JMT and the many non-AT miles of the GSM, and the AT highlights that we'll go back for... We'll be too feeble to walk before we run out of beckoning trail.

    Consider also that many who walk the AT are just grinding out the miles. How many times have I passed up a sidetrail summit or vista because I tell myself that I don't have time? There's something to be said for simply "being" in the woods, going slowly, or going nowhere. Instead of plodding through, a person could sit down a while, walk back and forth, explore left and right, and become intimately familiar with their particular neck of the woods.

    A couple months ago, I had opportunity to go on an off-trail exploration inside the Smokies to an area once belonging to my son-in-law's great-great-great-grandfather. The pile of rocks that marked his cabin, the few stones that marked a family burial ground, the forgotten roads and trails are all still there, but never ever seen by those who are hurrying along, making miles. There are many places in the Smokies like this, and they're tugging too.

  8. #8
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Get a map of GSMNP and surrounding area. 900 miles of trails in GSMNP alone. Probably 1000's more right in the adjacent areas. You could hike for years on different trails. Just ask Tipi Walter.

    Want to beat the summer heat?
    New Hampshire: 1200 miles of trails in the Whites.
    NY: 2000 miles of trails in the Adirondacks
    Vermont: 700 miles of trails
    And so on, without even leaving the east coast.

    Get maps. Plan routes. Hike on. There's more out there than the AT.

  9. #9
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I live a little further away from the AT than you do (closest AT trailhead is 3 1/2 hours away). So weekend trips aren't really an option for me. I've been doing one or two 7-10 day trips per year since 2011. Made it from Springer to Pearisburg, VA so far. GA thru PA can be reached in a day's drive, so that should keep me busy until 2020.

    After that I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe play the game of planes, trains, 'n automobiles. Maybe do family vacations in New England for a few years (i.e., AT for me, resort with a few day hikes thrown in for the wife and kids). If I manage to finish the whole AT, my son will probably be old enough to start backpacking by then. And I'll probably have forgotten half of what I saw in the South. So there's a whole 'nother adventure...
    It's all good in the woods.

  10. #10
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I finally finished my last AT section atop Katahdin on October 4, 2014, over 41 years from my first section from Delaware Water Gap to Unionville, NY in April 1973 as a sophomore in high school.

    With a new job, I didn't have an opportunity to take my annual backpacking trip this year, and I'm going through withdrawal. I certainly am not as engaged with WhiteBlaze and the AT as I have been the past decade (or more), but I am turning my energies towards a JMT thru-hike next September.

    Touching the sign atop Katahdin was somewhat anti-climactic for me. It wasn't so much an 'end' as the completion of a life goal that I had been working towards for a long time (even when I wasn't hiking in the 80's and 90's). I was surprised at how much my family and friends thought of the accomplishment -- frankly more than I thought was merited. It says more about tenacity and planning than overcoming insurmountable odds, IMO.

    I applaud you for giving back to the trail. I'm hoping to do the same once I retire (not that I couldn't do it beforehand, but I want to see a few more trails before my knees totally give out).
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  11. #11
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    What next??
    I'll put in a plug for bicycle touring, rails-trails, rural gravel, fireroads, etc. There's a lot out there. bring your trail runners and a day pack.

  12. #12

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    Had a buddy in college that did an early nobo to maine, Got a road bike up there and cycled back to Tn staying as close to the coast as he could
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  13. #13

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    It took me 10 hikes over 8 years to finish on Katahdin in 2001. It felt wonderful -- tears and all. I did a couple of other trails (Long Trail and Benton MacKaye) but I've kept returning to the AT each year since. It's different every time. Walking the same section northbound or southbound is different. Fall is different from Spring. But even walking this same section repeatedly is different each time.

  14. #14

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    Im on hike 34 with 800 miles complete, have to keep in mind, most of my trips are 2-3 days long though
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  15. #15
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    I felt blessed to finish at Katahdin July 31. 2015 with my two grown sons hiking the last 2 days and summiting with me! 14 years of sectioning driving from the far western border of Ohio, the last four years doing about 60% of the total. No void here at all, been doing day hikes within a couple hours drive of home, in planning stages now for the Long Trail and others in 2016. I also must admit the western draw is starting to creep into my mind. As others have said, so many trails....so little time!
    2000 miler......long sections Summited July 2015

  16. #16

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    My final mile was pretty uneventful, just a walk to the next road crossing north of white rocks in VT. I lugged down a piece of white rock and was going to have the date blasted into it and never even did that. My long rage goal is sectioning or slacking the PCT when I am semiretired

  17. #17

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    The side to side idea reminds me of the SNAP500.

    http://snap500.blogspot.com/?m=1

    http://davessnap500.blogspot.com/?m=1

    Sorry if this got posted twice.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

  18. #18
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    I feel like I'm on a second pass through. I never really quit the AT, just dance around it some. I'd really like to revisit the trail down south (deep south) where I haven't been since this sectioning stuff all began.

    In truth, I'd like to patch up a few of the blue-blazes I pulled along the way. Minor, but they nag at me.

  19. #19

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    So hike it again but go in the other direction, and see the other side of the trees.
    Every hike is different, even on the same trail.

  20. #20
    Registered User daveiniowa's Avatar
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    My goal is 100 miles of section hikes for the next 20 years for the AT. But I am always hiking else where too. Part of the fun of this is seeking out those new places. By the time you conquer something out west you need to go back and get reminded of what the AT is all about again. And it's totally worth re-hiking sections years later.

    So many trails - so little time!

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