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  1. #21
    Registered User sadlowskiadam's Avatar
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    I recommend starting later in April to avoid the hiker bubble. Most young, partying hikers will be gone by this period. Once the bubble has passed, you can be more selective as to who you hike with and what you are exposed to. If you start in March or early April, it will be much more difficult to avoid the hiker bubble and the party scene. Just my opinion.

  2. #22

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    Only you know where you're at in your sobriety...I I'm told parting abounds in the bubble...it wouldn't be my choice of style. Good luck, wish you well.

  3. #23
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    Some of us want to see the world unfiltered by the haze of drugs and alcohal. You will be one of many on the trail who have chosen the path. But I like others will avoid the bubble to not be annoyed by the haze of weed that follows them. Plus I like the trail less crowded.

  4. #24

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    I started mid April. There were two notable party groups. One loud and obnoxious, and the other friendly and considerate. By Virgina, they were both off the trail. I mostly avoided the loud group, but chatted with the considerate group during the day and met some friendly people among them.

    On the trail. About one in twenty hikers offered to share weed with me, they pretty much seemed happy when I declined. Expensive and all. Zero pressure in declining, could be just as social with them without partaking. Zero peer pressure. I was offered two beers total in the entire 600 miles I completed. Beer is heavy, you want to drink it, you have to carry it yourself, or otherwise arrange for someone in your group to carry it. Few were generous with their beer.

    Off the trail. Mostly the same as real life. Some hostels are known for parties, some are known to be quiet. Probably not worth worrying which are which at this point. Things may change at specific hostels in the next few years, or they may not.

  5. #25
    In the shadows AfterParty's Avatar
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    I take a few puffs but don't plan on doing it around anyone or advertising that I do. I used cannibus as a medication legal or not it allows me to live my life with PTSD. I have been on many many medications over the last 8 years with poor results and multiple side effects. But like you I want to not be in a huge party group I probably won't attempt to go to trail days, if it happens I might check it out and move on. I have a goal to complete the AT and do some fishing. I have no idea which way I'm going yet or if I will flip flop but these options are seeming better at times. But I agree its all in the people you are around and where you camp at.
    Hiking the AT is “pointless.” What life is not “pointless”? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform?.....I want to make my life less ordinary. AWOL

  6. #26

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    Might want to define your thru-hike as having vast opportunity to find healthier more empowering overall ways to change your state - how you feel - without ingesting drugs. Hiking, thru-hiking, even with the ups and downs, is a great vehicle for living life more fully. That could be how you define your thru-hike ... as an exploration to find as many ways as you can to joyously appreciate and live life more fully rather than zoning out.

    Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. John Muir

    Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir

    Yes, I've been in the same boat.






    Might want to define your thru-hike as having vast opportunity to find ways to change your state - how you feel - without ingesting drugs.

  7. #27

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    To the Original Poster: There's a misconception that the AT is characterized by a bunch of pot heads, drug users, and drinkers hiking. R I D I C U L O U S. I N C O R R E C T. We can plug into, define, and construct whatever thru-hiking environment we want. Regardless of the external circumstances it is the internal that ultimately determines our reality.

    Whether one hikes in the bubble or doesn't, whether one starts late or not, whether one flip flops or not it it doesn't ultimately determine exposure to drugs or not. If one wants to find drugs they will. If one wants to avoid that they will.

  8. #28

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    I don't recall it being much of a problem to avoid that crap.

  9. #29
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    It's already been mentioned but, it sounds like you came across some of the "Hiker Trash" videos on You Tube. I too have enjoyed watching other people's thru hikes on you tube for years and was very excited until I came across these videos. That type of crowd is exactly what I want to avoid. As soon as I started ignoring these videos and concentrated on watching videos from people who I better relate to, I was happy again and not discouraged by what I may be encountering during my future thru hike. Good luck to you.

  10. #30
    Registered User AO2134's Avatar
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    It is a big part of the culture from my experience on the trail, especially during thru-hiking season. I don't partake. If you wish to avoid "those" people, I would strongly suggest getting used to avoiding all shelters and popular campsites.

    Get used to find places to stealth camp.

    Avoid places people congregate (shelters, hostels, etc).

    Personally, there is nothing more annoying then the moving party atmosphere that I sometimes see on AT. I don't drink or smoke. The trail is plenty fun without those two things in my life.
    Foothills Trail - 14
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  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    I don't recall it being much of a problem to avoid that crap.
    As as section hiker and LASHer I agree. A bit harder during the typical springtime rush out of Springer.

  12. #32
    Registered User Engine's Avatar
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    First of all, early congrats on your 2 years anniversary...anything you can overcome for 2 years, you can continue to overcome as long as you stay dedicated to doing so. Avoiding the party crowd is doable, with a little effort. But, in the end, staying sober is a choice you make regardless of your surroundings. Stay strong and enjoy the trail.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

  13. #33

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    What's a LASHer?

    jus guessing...long arse section hiker?

  14. #34
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    What's a LASHer?

    jus guessing...long arse section hiker?
    Some say 'lazy' rather than 'long', but that's the gist.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This is only true on the AT if you never camp near the rat-box shelters and spend minimal time at the shelters.



    You can stay at shelters (tenting) and never even talk to another soul if thats what you like. Aint hard at all.

  16. #36

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    No Thru Hiker experiences, except those I've hiked / camped with for several days at a time in my section hikes - but on the trail, sometimes someone breaks out a pint bottle and shares it. Clearly, they aren't partying. I mean, only a pint for multiple people to share? Ha! Sometimes Trail Angels will bring some moonshine.
    When it came my way, I simply said "no thanks". They didn't try to convince me that I needed to, they didn't ask me why, they just offered it to the next person. Same thing with pot - though most people I've seen smoking it have been less open about sharing - but nobody cares when I say no thanks.
    I've also met people who didn't drink. I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to put in a long day now and then, or a short day now and then, and find some people in a group or bubble who you enjoy hiking / camping with - or to get away from some you don't.

    I haven't had a drink in over 6 years. I have some friends who drink without the negative consequences some of us know... it doesn't bother me that they do or can. I know I can't. I don't miss it or envy them. I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

    As someone else said, stop worrying about something 3 or 4 years away.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    You can stay at shelters (tenting) and never even talk to another soul if thats what you like. Aint hard at all.
    Or hike off season and have the shelters to yourself. Gets lonely.

  18. #38
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    Overblown. Don't camp at sites or shelters within a mile of a road and you'll be good. Maybe in the first week or two you'll find a group but you're probably only hiking half a day at that point so who cares if you sleep from midnight until 8. If you look for something, good or bad, you'll find it.

  19. #39
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    the drunks and party crowd will often go into town, and find it very difficult to leave town and get back on the trail. Spending days at hostels, or just camping on the edge of towns, and partying wherever there is a party in town, or in the woods near town. Their version of a thru hike is an extended drunken hobo journey.

    I've met groups of NoBo hikers in Virginia as late as August, that said they started in March or April from GA. Often telling tales of spending a week or more in trail towns like Damascus or wherever there's a gas station or store near a road xing, that sells booze or beer.

    when the realization hits them the calendar is slipping away, the yellow blazing becomes a larger part of the hobo journey....soon the yellow blazing miles outpace the hiking miles. Catching up to the next party town, or source for pot or money.

    it's a big trail, over 2000 miles, and easy to avoid that scene

  20. #40

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    What you will find by 2020 is a very likely quickly changed landscape where recreational cannabis is more widely available in states the AT passes. I'm sure with Mass and ME now legalizing recreational cannabis dispensaries will locate near the AT to serve the AT user market as part of their market and that's only the two states in the east that I know of that has legalized recreational use. With these two states legalizing rec use legal stigmatization concerning cannabis use is sure to lessen. It's very likely within the next three yrs additional east coast states will legalize rec use.

    On the more generally liberal west coast, on the PCT that passes through three states that all have legalized rec use you will not find many thru-hikers that drink heavily but there sure is significant current weed use. The weed culture sentiments are much much more relaxed on the west coast and on the west coast trails than the east coast and it's trails.

    What I've seen on the AT in the last dozen or so yrs alcohol use is largely confined to in town visits and near THs at busier road crossings and maybe some of the larger established camping areas. And weed users, because rec use is still largely illegal, tend to have much greater reluctance to publicly use around others hiking. That may change as legalization continues in the east.

    Although some don't think of drug use this way I recognize the largest drug or drug category used on the AT is not weed, alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco but pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as Motrin(Ibuprofen), other NSAIDS, and prescription drugs overall, including massive amounts of pain prescription meds. Notice how drugs are conveniently called meds when they come from the pharmaceutical industry?

    SO MANY will point fingers at others doing drugs when the drugs being used are more socially unacceptable while ignoring their own less stigmaticed drug use.

    Hopefully, this info can help those hike soberly.

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