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  1. #61

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    I have left Springer 3 times, First time was on my thru hike, May 5 departure (Sept 28 @ K) only first couple nights shelters were full. Very passive crowd for the entire trip. Second trip was cut short after March departure, partying and noise through the Smokies (required in the shelters) was one reason I left at Hot Springs. Last trip was also a May departure for a 500 mile trip. Again, nice and quiet.
    If you are serious about wanting a more trip with more quiet and solo hiking, go later.
    Chris "Flash" Gordon
    LT -1987, 2012; West Highland Way & Cape Wrath Trail, Scotland - 2008; AT - 2009

  2. #62

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    I've spent ten years working with incarcerated addicts in treatment centers, jails, and prisons. Rule 1: Identify, avoid, and get out of High Risk Situations. A HRS is any situation which threatens ones sobriety - a place full of "triggers", which stimulate the urges and cravings to use which are a part of the addicted mind. If you wouldn't go to Mardi Gras, or on a booze cruise, you don't want to be in the thru-hikers bubble. It is the definition of a HRS, compounded by the infectious reverie of your new-found and close knit peer group and their "magical" compulsive tendency to share and share alike. I lived, worked, and hiked the AT for 21 months straight in 2 calendar years '12'-'13' and anybody who downplays the party scene is probably selling something. That there are fewer hikers and fewer parties after the Smokies is untrue. That's where the scene BEGINS, and runs full blast to Trail Days - if things slow down a little it's there. But, not really. Think about Flip Flopping with a supportive person who is also, like you, well into sobriety - maybe your sponsor. You can find meetings along the way too using an AA book or the hotline directory. Good luck and remember: "It works if you work it - keep coming!"

  3. #63
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    The OP might be wondering what the social scene is like as a thru hiker. My quick take: it's all over the map, and whatever you make of it. It's mostly a young crowd. Some of 'em might be feeling their oats, so to speak. It's intensely crowded those first few weeks, but it thins out steadily starting at day one. Groups form, dissolve, and re-form. If you seek a quiet, non-drinking non-smoking group or partner, you can probably make it happen. It is an intensely social scene, you often see the same people night after night for days or weeks at a time. If you need to get away from it all, you can usually do so in your own tent or hammock, a few dozen or a few hundred yards away, or all by your lonesome at a site of your own.

    I was part of that northbound crush many years ago, and it didn't work out for me. I walked most of the AT alone, though my motivation for doing so was not quite the same as yours. Alcohol and pot are present in the woods, that's a fact. You may see an occasional bottle, flask, pipe or doob being passed around the fire or out behind the shelter. That doesn't end in Georgia.

  4. #64
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    Try to hit a meeting in town when you can. I'd also encourage you to plant some seeds that might attract other sober people like maybe use a subtle trail name or dropping a little recovery language subtly when you can. I sometimes use the name ODAAT. I've had a couple people know what that means. Nobody in the program yet, but I had one guy say hey my brother is in AA and he says that all the time. Right on.

    I'm 15 years sober. I have not thru hiked but done 600 miles of sections in last two years. I have not hike with the bubble, and wouldn't. I'm not sure I've seen ANY weed or alcohol in those 600 miles other than a day hiking couple having a glass of wine and cheese at a shelter one afternoon. They offered me a glass, which I declined, but you bet I ate some cheese.

    The trigger is more likely to be loneliness. Make a sober friend out there. More often than not, the people I've met out there seem generally sober and intent on enjoying the trail with a clear head.

    You can send me a PM through this forum anytime. I'll support ya!

  5. #65

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    There is no one right approach to sobriety although that is often the implied ideology and often outrightly demanded and expected imposition. Different people work out their sobriety differently. Maybe, we shouldn't suggest the way to enjoy sobriety is the way we individually have approached or know it. The OP did say he was in "good control of his sobriety." Let him work it out as he see fit being a thru-hiker on the AT.

  6. #66
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    There is no one right approach to sobriety although that is often the implied ideology and often outrightly demanded and expected imposition. Different people work out their sobriety differently. Maybe, we shouldn't suggest the way to enjoy sobriety is the way we individually have approached or know it. The OP did say he was in "good control of his sobriety." Let him work it out as he see fit being a thru-hiker on the AT.
    Uhm, yeah. It's neither easier, nor harder, on the trail than it is in society at large. My read is that the original poster wanted reassurance that the whole trail isn't like a Terry Coyle video. It isn't. If you want that stuff, you can find it, but it's by no means the whole trail.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  7. #67
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    Every alcoholic has triggers. OP needs to know what his/her triggers are and avoid them. If a trigger is being in a group of strangers who are drinking, then he/she needs to avoid groups of strangers who are drinking, etc...

    Only OP knows what his/her triggers are. And if OP encounters a trigger on the trail, he/she needs to be able to cope or reach out to his/her support group.

    If an alcoholic wants a drink, the alcoholic will get a drink. The AT is no impediment to that, at all.

  8. #68
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    Interesting post. This is one of the reasons to thru hike the AT... to get away from the alcohol which I use to numb my mind from my hum drum 9-5 job and everyday struggles of the material world. I want to get high on nature and nothing more. I know there are a lot more remote long distance trails I can take without the party atmosphere, but because I will be trekking alone, I want to stay on a well traveled (and beautiful) trail. I am considering and planning for a thru hike in 2020 also.

  9. #69
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    Default Seemingly, no big deal

    I don't have any issue with partiers, as long as they're relatively respectful.

    I'll share my specific experience, FWIW. Last year was my first section hike, from Springer to Unicoi, in early April, with the bubble. I passed a few groups, some of which were discretely having a safety meeting, and some who were doing it right out in the open. I just passed by, mentioned how beautiful everything was, talked about how lucky we all were to be out, they all agreed, and I moved on. No biggie.

    Other than that, my only other experience was at Low Gap. We stayed around the shelter that night. There was a large group of college aged kids and they were having a fine time. But they largely kept the volume down, and they were respectful, didn't bother anyone.

    So, overall, for those 54 miles or so, it seemed like no big deal at all to me. Low Gap was the only place where I stayed near a shelter, so that surely factors in.

    Congrats on your sobriety.

    ::nogray

  10. #70

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    You could get hiking partner and get him to adopt the trail name, "Bill W". Then you can go nameless and if anyone asks just respond, "I'm a friend of Bill W."

    That would be epic

  11. #71
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    I stayed at Church of the mountain hostel in Delaware Water gap. They have a AA meeting their.

    Thom

  12. #72

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    2 years ago when I did a section in VA, crossing a good number of NOBOs - during a short (1/2 hr) shower, 15 to 20 took refuge in a shelter. Several were passing around drugs, but they honored with no questions or pestering my no, no thank you.

    It is easy to say no, and be accepted for it.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by RollTide View Post
    You could get hiking partner and get him to adopt the trail name, "Bill W". Then you can go nameless and if anyone asks just respond, "I'm a friend of Bill W."

    That would be epic
    Well I am a huge fan of Calvin And Hobbes...
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  14. #74

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    My pack is protected by Smith and Wilson

  15. #75

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    The answer for avoidence is speed. Go a little slower or faster to find your personality group. And then do not be a ASS about others on the trail. Makes for uneasy times when not expected.

  16. #76

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    Jan 1st of Ď18 is my sober anniversary and Iíll be starting the trail April 1st NoBo. Iím in a program of recovery and discussed this with my sponsor. I would love to do this with some other sober folk to keep each other in check and continue to work our programs. I havenít checked yet but I imagine there are recovery based meetings in many of the towns along the way. Iím definitely taking the side trip to NYC and will attend meetings there.

    As others have described the trail appears to be a microcosm of society at large, people like to party on the trail just as they do off it. My suggestion is to find other folks looking to stay sober to do he trail with... if u start in 2018 instead of 2020 u can go with me

  17. #77

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    In 2014 I wore my "coin" around my neck as a constant reminder to myself and a somewhat subtle way of letting others know I was/am a friend of Bill's. I ended up being an "on trail" sponsor to a young gentleman in his first year of sobriety. He finished the trail while staying true to himself. There are places to pick up an occasional meeting along the way and there are more friends of Bill out there than you may realize. I will be back on the AT in 2018 (some time in April) and am looking forward to much of what I encountered in 2014; many wonderful people with good hearts; only the occasional party people which I seemed to be able to avoid. Wanna have an on trail meeting? Just look for the short, old guy with the coin around his neck.

  18. #78
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    An interesting thread, which makes me realize that the very nature of shelters and LNT minimizing "appropriate" campsites causes congregations. Those tend to increase partying(unless you call a solo safety meeting a party) and consequently escalations in the volume of conversation and staying up later. I was REALLY impressed at several shelters in my week on trail when there would be 3-5 people there and everyone spoke as if in a library. Especially with shelters right on the trail I don't see where people suddenly think its cool to be loud with others around just because they are not hiking or worse because they are partying.
    Then there is the party "atmosphere" effect, I think most of us agree, we consume more whatever when partying compared to alone(and the exceptions to that are generally those who really need to clean up their act).
    In the same vein, most people wouldnt offer a drink or toke to someone sitting at a nearby picnic table in a state park(most with a no alcohol policy) yet on the trail suddenly we are all "buddies" and there are no rules.


    We are all here for different reasons and should consider that everyone we met might have the concerns the OP does...why not make the effort to insure the experience is the best it can be for everyone? This is why you'll find me camping at shelters as far away from them as I can be and making sure my activities have the minimum impact on everyone and everything.

  19. #79
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    Realizing that "the party" exists mostly in Georgia from the end of March until the beginning of May, you might consider a flip-flop or whatnot. Avoiding that scene will take the "near occasion of sin" out of the equation.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



  20. #80
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    Oh, and if you go to Trail Days, generally stay away from Tent City. The rest of it is relatively PG - family friendly.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



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