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  1. #1
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    Default My 2016 Thru Hike - Excessive Slack Packing

    I just finished my 2016 thru hike. It was an awesome experience. All of the people on the trail were friendly and I did not encounter or hear of any issues involving people, just animals. Every thru hiker I encounter did a great job practicing Leave No Trace, which impressed me. So I hate to bring up a negative subject but it is just killing me not to mention it...

    I was shocked by the large percentage of young thru hikers (20-26yr old’s) that were slack packing and/or skipping sections. I understand according to the ATC you can slack pack and still be considered a thru hiker… but I highly doubt the ATC ever imagined that young hikers in their prime would abuse this service. I would also ask hikers that were 30-59yrs old and the vast majority would laugh at the thought of slack packing and all noticed the same observation with the young hikers. I will say many of the hostel owners along the trail are shoving the idea of slack packing down everyone’s throat and for some reason the young hikers couldn’t resist. If there was something physically wrong with a hiker or they were 60+ yrs old I could care less if you slack pack, I give you lots of credit just for being out there. It is just SAD and PATHETIC to watch these young “thru hikers” take advantage of slack packing every opportunity they could. I just find it very odd the difference of opinion between the young and older generations on slack packing… are young hikers nowadays just lazy???

    I would also see a large percentage of young hikers that would intentionally skip sections, maybe a mile or 2 at a time when leaving town or returning from a hitch and still call themselves thru hikers by improperly using the HYOH... that’s just sad!!!

    So for all the current and previous thru hikers who carried their own gear up and down the mountains, I want you to know that a large percentage of the record number of thru hikers that complete the AT this year are cheaters and lazy young slack packers.

    I will end my rant with the most overly used saying that the young hikers improperly used to justify their excessive slack packing and section skipping, Hike Your Own Hike!

  2. #2

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    Please consider putting into practice the ethic embodied in that old Dylan lyric:

    "You go your way and I'll go mine."

    Congratulations on completing your thru-hike -- I'm considering trying it myself one day.
    Last edited by map man; 08-31-2016 at 21:30.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  3. #3

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    I don't think slack-packing means you're not a thru-hiker. You can't judge what was going on with a particular person on a particular day...it sounds very similar to those who judge people with invisible diseases and conditions for parking in the Disabled Parking spots. I'm sure many people would take take advantage of a few days of slack-packing if they could...it makes life, and a short section, a little easier, so why not? Many of the FKT hikers slack-pack...aren't they still thru-hikers?

    I also don't see an issue with missing a mile or two, if it's not consistent and at every town stop sine the miles missed would eventually add up to a considerable amount. But also, on another note, many hikers on the PCT are re-routed by major fires with no safe route to walk around and thus skip several miles...are they still thru-hikers? I would consider them to be so. A missed mile here or there shouldn't be the be all and end all of the thru-hiker definition, and while I see your point I am not sure it is up to you to decide or judge these hikers. And I do agree with the HYOH sentiment, so feel free to rant and rage about it if it's frustrating you, but everyone hikes differently and is looking for a different experience and I would call them all thru-hikers!

  4. #4

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    Slack packing caters to all ages. Just because you didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by capehiker View Post
    Slack packing caters to all ages. Just because you didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.
    Yes, people of all ages do it, never said otherwise. But the young kids are abusing the service. You completely missed the point of my rant.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWhiteWalker View Post
    Yes, people of all ages do it, never said otherwise. But the young kids are abusing the service. You completely missed the point of my rant.
    Your use of the word abuse implies there is a standard expectation of how much slack packing can used. BTW, Warren Doyle has hiked the entire AT 17 times, all by using a day pack and having resources at the end of the night. He also runs a service for people wanting to slack pack the entire AT. Hint: average age of customer is NOT a millennial.
    Last edited by capehiker; 09-04-2016 at 12:42.

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    Some of you are clearly missing my point and some of you will never understand my point unless you completed a thru hike. I am not trying to be mean but it is the truth. Thru hikers are a different breed with a far greater goal. So when you try to compare your thoughts/experience from your section hike to anything I am talking about, it is irrelevant. There was a reason why I posted this topic in the Thru Hiking Forum Section and not elsewhere.

    The point of my rant is to let former, current, and future thru hikers know about the excessive slack packing and section skipping that I witnessed (especially from young thru hikers) in the class of 2016. And how many of them would justify their actions by misusing the Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) saying.

    If you cheated on your thru hike attempt and still called yourself a thru hiker, I look at you the same way a military person views stolen valor. You are a liar, cheater, and a fraud. HYOH does not apply! If you cheaters want to tag along with real thru hikers, like hundreds of you did, don’t claim to be a thru hiker to locals in town, day hikers, section hikers, your family, yourself, or to real thru hikers.

    Issue 1: Slack Packing – Yes, according to ATC, you are still considered thru hikers if you completed all the miles without skipping like I mention in my original post. Yes, some of you slack whackers did hike sections in the opposite direction to intentionally avoid large climbs up, you are pathetic for doing that. I highly doubt the ATC envisioned young able-bodied hikers abusing the slack packing when they wrote the requirements for thru hiking. Excessive slack packing by young able-bodied hikers is annoying for thru hikers to witness, not to mention you are lazy which I would bet this also mirrors your off trail life and work ethic. Maybe it is your parents fault, regardless I feel sorry for you. Did you ever wonder why the hostel owners/employees that push the slack packing option are often fat??

    Issue 2: Section Skipping – You are those lazy hikers that will justify your section skipping by your blue blazing and HYOH... you know who you are! You are NOT a thru hiker according to the ATC. Don’t even try to twist the ATC words or pull out the HYOH, you are NOT a thru hiker… so quit claiming to be one on the trail. If you want to call yourself a thru hiker, then hike the entire trail! Yes, all you lazy hikers that skipped the 10-mile hike into Baxter State Park and opted for the shuttle to Millinocket, which then shuttles you to the base of Katahdin, you are not thru hikers…. 1 of many examples of your cheating.

    Issue 3: HYOH – Hike Your Own Hike was intended for people who hike slow, fast, excessive zero days, no zero days, takes breaks every 30 minutes, never takes breaks, stops at every view, bypasses every view, doesn’t wear deodorant, always wears deodorant, etc. So please quit saying HYOH as a way to justify being a thru hiker.

    I could easily be a sheep and brainwash myself into believing the HYOH BS but my thru hike was such an awesome experience that I will not keep my mouth shut. Attempting and completing a thru hike of the AT is something very special that words cannot describe. It is not an easy feat for anyone, even for the best. When you have fellow hikers taking are shortcuts and also calling themselves thru hikers, it is insulting not only to current thru hikers but also to former thru hikers who have completed the trail. Saying nothing and buying into their HYOH is just enabling the lazy hiking culture. As these lazy thru hiker impostors would say… if you disagree with me, then please don’t comment and go HYOH!!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWhiteWalker View Post
    Some of you are clearly missing my point and some of you will never understand my point unless you completed a thru hike.!
    I think I missed your point because you are combining skipping sections and slackpacking as one thing. They are two separate things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWhiteWalker View Post
    Some of you are clearly missing my point and some of you will never understand my point unless you completed a thru hike. I am not trying to be mean but it is the truth. Thru hikers are a different breed with a far greater goal. So when you try to compare your thoughts/experience from your section hike to anything I am talking about, it is irrelevant. There was a reason why I posted this topic in the Thru Hiking Forum Section and not elsewhere.

    The point of my rant is to let former, current, and future thru hikers know about the excessive slack packing and section skipping that I witnessed (especially from young thru hikers) in the class of 2016. And how many of them would justify their actions by misusing the Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) saying.

    Most people DO know. The thing is....they dont particularly care the way you passionately seem to.

    "Thru hikers are a different breed " ??

    Sorry, but no. Youve drunk the koolaid by the gallon you rockstar you.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 09-04-2016 at 21:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWhiteWalker View Post
    Some of you are clearly missing my point and some of you will never understand my point unless you completed a thru hike. I am not trying to be mean but it is the truth. Thru hikers are a different breed with a far greater goal. So when you try to compare your thoughts/experience from your section hike to anything I am talking about, it is irrelevant. There was a reason why I posted this topic in the Thru Hiking Forum Section and not elsewhere.

    The point of my rant is to let former, current, and future thru hikers know about the excessive slack packing and section skipping that I witnessed (especially from young thru hikers) in the class of 2016. And how many of them would justify their actions by misusing the Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) saying.

    If you cheated on your thru hike attempt and still called yourself a thru hiker, I look at you the same way a military person views stolen valor. You are a liar, cheater, and a fraud. HYOH does not apply! If you cheaters want to tag along with real thru hikers, like hundreds of you did, don’t claim to be a thru hiker to locals in town, day hikers, section hikers, your family, yourself, or to real thru hikers.

    Issue 1: Slack Packing – Yes, according to ATC, you are still considered thru hikers if you completed all the miles without skipping like I mention in my original post. Yes, some of you slack whackers did hike sections in the opposite direction to intentionally avoid large climbs up, you are pathetic for doing that. I highly doubt the ATC envisioned young able-bodied hikers abusing the slack packing when they wrote the requirements for thru hiking. Excessive slack packing by young able-bodied hikers is annoying for thru hikers to witness, not to mention you are lazy which I would bet this also mirrors your off trail life and work ethic. Maybe it is your parents fault, regardless I feel sorry for you. Did you ever wonder why the hostel owners/employees that push the slack packing option are often fat??

    Issue 2: Section Skipping – You are those lazy hikers that will justify your section skipping by your blue blazing and HYOH... you know who you are! You are NOT a thru hiker according to the ATC. Don’t even try to twist the ATC words or pull out the HYOH, you are NOT a thru hiker… so quit claiming to be one on the trail. If you want to call yourself a thru hiker, then hike the entire trail! Yes, all you lazy hikers that skipped the 10-mile hike into Baxter State Park and opted for the shuttle to Millinocket, which then shuttles you to the base of Katahdin, you are not thru hikers…. 1 of many examples of your cheating.

    Issue 3: HYOH – Hike Your Own Hike was intended for people who hike slow, fast, excessive zero days, no zero days, takes breaks every 30 minutes, never takes breaks, stops at every view, bypasses every view, doesn’t wear deodorant, always wears deodorant, etc. So please quit saying HYOH as a way to justify being a thru hiker.

    I could easily be a sheep and brainwash myself into believing the HYOH BS but my thru hike was such an awesome experience that I will not keep my mouth shut. Attempting and completing a thru hike of the AT is something very special that words cannot describe. It is not an easy feat for anyone, even for the best. When you have fellow hikers taking are shortcuts and also calling themselves thru hikers, it is insulting not only to current thru hikers but also to former thru hikers who have completed the trail. Saying nothing and buying into their HYOH is just enabling the lazy hiking culture. As these lazy thru hiker impostors would say… if you disagree with me, then please don’t comment and go HYOH!!
    I have thru hiked yet I think you may need a long hike to chill a bit. While I have never slack packed or yellow blazed I couldn't give a rats azz if others do a one, two skip a few 99, 100 approach to their hikeor hire a Sherpa to carry their pack. You keep throwing the term "abusing" around. Really? Do you think because you just walked 2000 miles that you are now the singular source of the truth on how one should hike?

    Finally, as to your comment "if you disagree with me, then please don't comment and go HYOH!!" This shows your immaturity. You are just looking for validation and are upset that everyone didn't hail you as a hiking sage.

    Mags, when you return we need you HMHDI post.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWhiteWalker View Post
    Some of you are clearly missing my point and some of you will never understand my point unless you completed a thru hike. I am not trying to be mean but it is the truth. Thru hikers are a different breed with a far greater goal. So when you try to compare your thoughts/experience from your section hike to anything I am talking about, it is irrelevant. There was a reason why I posted this topic in the Thru Hiking Forum Section and not elsewhere.

    The point of my rant is to let former, current, and future thru hikers know about the excessive slack packing and section skipping that I witnessed (especially from young thru hikers) in the class of 2016. And how many of them would justify their actions by misusing the Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) saying.

    If you cheated on your thru hike attempt and still called yourself a thru hiker, I look at you the same way a military person views stolen valor. You are a liar, cheater, and a fraud. HYOH does not apply! If you cheaters want to tag along with real thru hikers, like hundreds of you did, don’t claim to be a thru hiker to locals in town, day hikers, section hikers, your family, yourself, or to real thru hikers.

    Issue 1: Slack Packing – Yes, according to ATC, you are still considered thru hikers if you completed all the miles without skipping like I mention in my original post. Yes, some of you slack whackers did hike sections in the opposite direction to intentionally avoid large climbs up, you are pathetic for doing that. I highly doubt the ATC envisioned young able-bodied hikers abusing the slack packing when they wrote the requirements for thru hiking. Excessive slack packing by young able-bodied hikers is annoying for thru hikers to witness, not to mention you are lazy which I would bet this also mirrors your off trail life and work ethic. Maybe it is your parents fault, regardless I feel sorry for you. Did you ever wonder why the hostel owners/employees that push the slack packing option are often fat??

    Issue 2: Section Skipping – You are those lazy hikers that will justify your section skipping by your blue blazing and HYOH... you know who you are! You are NOT a thru hiker according to the ATC. Don’t even try to twist the ATC words or pull out the HYOH, you are NOT a thru hiker… so quit claiming to be one on the trail. If you want to call yourself a thru hiker, then hike the entire trail! Yes, all you lazy hikers that skipped the 10-mile hike into Baxter State Park and opted for the shuttle to Millinocket, which then shuttles you to the base of Katahdin, you are not thru hikers…. 1 of many examples of your cheating.

    Issue 3: HYOH – Hike Your Own Hike was intended for people who hike slow, fast, excessive zero days, no zero days, takes breaks every 30 minutes, never takes breaks, stops at every view, bypasses every view, doesn’t wear deodorant, always wears deodorant, etc. So please quit saying HYOH as a way to justify being a thru hiker.

    I could easily be a sheep and brainwash myself into believing the HYOH BS but my thru hike was such an awesome experience that I will not keep my mouth shut. Attempting and completing a thru hike of the AT is something very special that words cannot describe. It is not an easy feat for anyone, even for the best. When you have fellow hikers taking are shortcuts and also calling themselves thru hikers, it is insulting not only to current thru hikers but also to former thru hikers who have completed the trail. Saying nothing and buying into their HYOH is just enabling the lazy hiking culture. As these lazy thru hiker impostors would say… if you disagree with me, then please don’t comment and go HYOH!!



    HYOH is a more pleasant way of saying what it really truly means - "Mind your own ****ing business!!"

    slack packing has always been a thing by people of all ages - it's not new to 2016
    skipping sections big and small and still calling yourself a thru hiker has always been a thing it's not new to 2016.

    "Purists" - bitching about what others are doing and judging them has always been a thing. It's annoying and a waste of time. It's life - you live yours let others live yours. Comparing it to stolen valor is silly. It's not even close.


    It's normal to feel a little messed up about your experience compared to others when you get back. It took me a long time to get right with what I did and what it meant. It really doesn't matter what others did or say they did and what they tell themselves to get through the night. let it go and start planning your next hike.

    it's really only on the AT that people get so hung up about it - other long distance trails have their own issues which often means people are taking alternative routes.

    HYOY and get on with your life

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    Quote Originally Posted by capehiker View Post
    Your use of the word abuse implies there is a standard expectation of how much slack packing can used. BTW, Warren Doyle has hiked the entire AT 17 times, all by using a day pack and having resources at the end of the night. He also runs a service for people wanting to slack pack the entire AT. Hint: average age of customer is NOT a millennial.
    You just don't seem to understand! These slackpackers and yellow blazers are enjoying their vacation the wrong way! We need do something about it!

    Fun fact, the earliest A.T. hiker known to have been accused of yellowblazing was Grandma Gatewood. Earl Schaffer was the accuser.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    Fun fact, the earliest A.T. hiker known to have been accused of yellowblazing was Grandma Gatewood. Earl Schaffer was the accuser.
    Earl did it too. Read his journal online at https://transcription.si.edu/view/67...28-0000025-007


    Whitewalker, what amount of slack packing would you say disqualifies someone from being a thru-hiker?
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    You just don't seem to understand! These slackpackers and yellow blazers are enjoying their vacation the wrong way! We need do something about it!

    Fun fact, the earliest A.T. hiker known to have been accused of yellowblazing was Grandma Gatewood. Earl Schaffer was the accuser.
    Great post. The problem is that everybody thinks their way to hike is right. I don't have a dog in this fight (not being a thru-hiker), but my general view based on common sense is that slackpacking is not a bad thing, but yellowblazing or blueblazing shortcuts seem to be. That said, it's on the honor system, and it's all up to the hiker.
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    OK seems HYOH only means if someone else approves of it, seems like a common problem with life in general these days. Starting 12 Mar 2017 and I will be hiking the way I want, regardless of what other people do or think. I plan to do it pack the whole way, pass every blaze and enjoy the walk, BUT if I decide to slack pack, aqua blaze or anything else that should only worry me. I certainly won't be worrying about what other people do or what they call themselves.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjozgrunt View Post
    OK seems HYOH only means if someone else approves of it, seems like a common problem with life in general these days.
    Not true! HYOH is being abused and used incorrectly. Quick example... I met a "thru hiker" who admitted skipping 110 miles of trail because he had to get off trail for a couple days and wanted to rejoin his friends. I asked him if he plans on doing that 110 miles he skipped and he said no because he heard it was a boring section. He told me he still considers himself a thru hiker and justified it by using the HYOH.

    That is a very common example. I will say that 110 miles was on the higher end, most "thru hikers" that were skipping sections were more in the 20-60 mile range. Most of them will justify their blue blazing for the miles they skipped and pull out the HYOH to make themselves feel better.

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    Whitewalker, since the ATC is the closest thing we have to an authority on this subject, please allow me to quote them...

    "ATC policy is to operate on an honor system, assuming that, if you apply for 2,000-miler status, you have madean honest effort to walk the entire Trail—as a thru-hiker or in sections. In the event of an emergency, such as aflood, a forest fire, or an impending storm, blue blazed trails or officially required roadwalks are viablesubstitutes for the white-blazed route. And, while sequence, direction, length of time, or whether you carried apack are not considered, the ATC holds high expectations of 2,000-milers that include treating the naturalenvironment, A.T. communities, other hikers, and our agency partners—whose land the A.T. passes through—with kindness, respect, and cooperation. Respect for these standards by all applicants is essential to thecontinuation of ATC's practice of recognizing end-to-end hikers in any fashion. If you meet these standards,please complete the form below. "

    Carrying your own pack (or not) seems to be not part of the definition of '2000 miler' recognition. Really, it is a personal choice. Different hikers have different goals, and I think they should be able to set these goals for themselves without
    criticism. Observations about generational differences for these goals are interesting and worth discussing, but calling someone who does not share your goals 'lazy' is inflammatory and I think inaccurate. Hiking all day, even without a backpack, would not match most peoples definition of lazy. Live and let live WhiteWalker, if they are enjoying their hike and not doing you any harm, why should you care?

    Now as to the skipped miles... going back to the ATC, I think they give some pretty clear guidance there. And as the skipped miles start adding up I think at some point it should become clear to the hiker that their hike really can't be called a tru-hike. Now we can all have fun arguing where that line should lie, but at the extreme there are clearly some people out there fraudulently declaring themselves thru-hikers. I think that says something negative about them, but my feelings on this tend more towards pity than anger.

    Congratulations on your achievement. You set a tough goal for yourself and achieved it. You should be proud. But I hope you can look back on this hike and recognize that other people may have had other goals, and hopefully you can support them in hiking the hike they set out to hike. An experience like this that puts people back in touch with nature and themselves is a good thing for us all I think and should be encouraged, whatever the flavor of the hike.


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    Who are you "competing" against? If you are not "competing", then you would not be complaining about how others hike the AT and whether or not they call themselves "thru hikers". There's no medal, no award, no plaque for completing the AT. The accomplishment is inside of you for getting it done. Its your goal that you set and you accomplished. Why give a darn about how anyone else got it done? Otherwise, you should be rallying against AT record setters who don't really carry a pack and are assisted by support teams and support vehicles, rather than regular hikers who choose to lessen their burden/suffering in order to accomplish THEIR goal. Don't judge others through your life's lenses. Everyone wears different glasses....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareBear View Post
    Who are you "competing" against? If you are not "competing", then you would not be complaining about how others hike the AT and whether or not they call themselves "thru hikers". There's no medal, no award, no plaque for completing the AT. The accomplishment is inside of you for getting it done.
    Not exactly. As I understand it, the ATC recognizes thru-hikers, and that accomplishment has some social currency. If the sense of accomplishment were purely internal, there would be no point in ever claiming to have thru-hiked the AT.

    Those who falsely claim it (including those who add their own exceptions to the ATC definition) devalue the currency. It is human nature to be bothered by such things. Nothing wrong with trying to uphold a defined standard. OTOH, perhaps the ATC should get out of the business of recognizing people who self-certify the accomplishment. Imagine if colleges/universities did the same.

    I wrote more, but lost it due to automatic logout. I wish I had time to re-create it, but I need to get back to my dissertation for my third Ph.D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cspan View Post
    Not exactly. As I understand it, the ATC recognizes thru-hikers, and that accomplishment has some social currency. If the sense of accomplishment were purely internal, there would be no point in ever claiming to have thru-hiked the AT.

    Those who falsely claim it (including those who add their own exceptions to the ATC definition) devalue the currency. It is human nature to be bothered by such things. Nothing wrong with trying to uphold a defined standard. OTOH, perhaps the ATC should get out of the business of recognizing people who self-certify the accomplishment. Imagine if colleges/universities did the same.

    I wrote more, but lost it due to automatic logout. I wish I had time to re-create it, but I need to get back to my dissertation for my third Ph.D.
    You get it! I couldn't have explained it any better.

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