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    Post Can a legitimate thru hike be completed in any 12 month time frame?

    I am wondering if it is still considered a thru hike if I start on Sept 1, 2020 (Harper's Ferry to Springer) and finish by August 31, 2021 (doing Harper's Ferry to Katahdin in the spring)? We have obligations that will force us to break it up...which will then slow down our hiking legs, but figure it can be done. Is there anything specific that says it has to done within a calendar year(jan1-dec 31)? We are still going to HYOH, but would make me happier to know it is legit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doeontrail View Post
    I am wondering if it is still considered a thru hike if I start on Sept 1, 2020 (Harper's Ferry to Springer) and finish by August 31, 2021 (doing Harper's Ferry to Katahdin in the spring)? We have obligations that will force us to break it up...which will then slow down our hiking legs, but figure it can be done. Is there anything specific that says it has to done within a calendar year(jan1-dec 31)? We are still going to HYOH, but would make me happier to know it is legit.

    Its your hike---if you've completed it----you are a thru...

    dont worry about what other people say....

    but, if you really wanna know---check out the atc website to see...

    my guess is that they will tell you the same thing ---if you've completed it--you are a thru...

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    From the ATC website.

    How does the ATC define thru-hiking?

    We define a thru-hike as a hike of the entire A.T. in 12 months or less.

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    This makes me sad.....the idea that a hike the full length of the AT could be considered "illegitimate", or that trolls and critics have grown so powerful that anyone would worry about their opinion.

    The ATC will consider your hike complete in the year it is completed....they do not differentiate between Thru and Section hikers....and award the "2000 miler" status when it's done.

    Do YOU consider your hike a legitimate thru? That's the ONLY opinion that matters. Enjoy your hike to the fullest, however to choose to do it.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  5. #5

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    Actually the ATC does differentiate between section or thru hiker, or there would be no need for the 1 year qualifier. Take 366 days to complete and your not a thru hiker, but a section hiker. Except if it's a leap year, then you get an extra day. I know, it's semantics, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    In any event, the clock starts when you do and you have 364 days to complete from that day.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    In my humble opinion ... it is not about "legitimate" or "illegitimate" ... The question is whether it is a Thru or a Section hike ... and frankly, most Thru hikers I have met think that section hiking is the more difficult way to go. After all, as a thru hiker you "get your legs", and it becomes much easier to do the miles, as a section hiker, you are doing the first week over and over. On the other hand as a section hiker I see the advantages I have in weight (because I don't have to carry anything I don't need for the particular section), and direction (I can choose the direction that has the best elevation profile), and food (I don't need to hike to town for resupply). .... ETC...

    Thus, I think that they are simply different experiences. And while both get the same 2000 miler patch, the ATC listing identifies Thru and Section hikers in various categories. Doesn't make one better or worse ... just different.

    Ultimately we all have to hike our own hike ... and we will get out of the experience commensurate with what we put into it.

    Turtyl

    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime View Post
    This makes me sad.....the idea that a hike the full length of the AT could be considered "illegitimate", or that trolls and critics have grown so powerful that anyone would worry about their opinion.

    The ATC will consider your hike complete in the year it is completed....they do not differentiate between Thru and Section hikers....and award the "2000 miler" status when it's done.

    Do YOU consider your hike a legitimate thru? That's the ONLY opinion that matters. Enjoy your hike to the fullest, however to choose to do it.

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    There's always going to be controversy over what is a "thru hike" and is goes beyond whether it is done in one year or one season to things like is it done in one direction, were any side trails or alternates used, and on and on. Eventually everyone comes to their own decision about how to regard a trip. In my case, if I can point to a continuous set of footprints from one end of a trail to another, then that's a thru hike. On my first multi-week hike, the JMT, I drove myself nutty trying to ensure that I did every inch of the official route. And I did. But it was ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with taking one path to dig a cat hole and another to get back on trail. Or taking an alternate entirely. This year, I did a mile or two of cross country near Bighorn Plateau and "missed" maybe a mile of the JMT. It adds to the experience, for me. All that being said, the ATC apparently considers any hike completed within 365 days to be a thru hike.

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    I don't think it is a matter of one way being the right way to hike or not, it is about whether using the word will be considered dishonest. No one is criticizing another person's choice of how to hike. But, if you spend 6 months or 16 months of your life hiking the AT, it is almost certainly going to come up in conversation many times afterwards. Personally, if I took 15 months to finish the AT, I would not even be tempted to think I had hike badly because it took longer than 12 months, but if I'm talking to a salesperson I've never met before at REI years later and I casually mention that I "thru-hiked" the AT, I'd feel like a liar. That would bother me. Not that my hike was wrong, but my choice of words was wrong and knowingly giving a false impression of what I had done. I can really, really, really enjoy hiking the trail in 15 months and even argue that it's more difficult than the 6 month plan. But if I tell a stranger I "thru-hiked" I'm giving them the impression that I am claiming to have hiked in 12 months or less. It's not that one hike is better than another or one needs to seek others approval. But the definition of a "thru-hike" is clear enough.

    Similarly, if I skipped 5 miles of the trail then later claimed to be a 2000 miler, I'd feel like a liar. Nothing wrong with my hiking choices. I would have had fun and "hiked my own hike", but that would not make me a legitimate 2000 miler. If you skip part of the trail (other than for closures during your hike) then you are NOT a "2000 miler". It doesn't mean you didn't have fun and you are of course free to skip 5 miles and no one needs to approve your choice of hiking plan. But if you skip several miles of the trail, you do not become a "2000 miler".

    Imagine running the Boston Marathon and quitting after 26.1 miles. That last 0.1 miles is important. Not that you haven't accomplished a difficult feat by running 26.1 miles, but you've not run a "marathon". Although I've never run a marathon, I totally get how driven one would be to finish the race. For the life of me, I don't understand how someone claims to be "thru-hiking" isn't bothered when they skip several miles of the AT. Not that you're not having fun and not having an adventure. And all are free to make their own choices. But the definition of a thru-hike and basic intuition are clear enough that one is not a thru-hiker if they skip miles of the trail.
    Last edited by FlyPaper; 09-09-2019 at 11:30.

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    The ATC defines “Thru Hike” for purposes of their record keeping, and to help further a conversation about the many ways to do the Trail.

    That said, they do not own the word and have no special claim to it (unlike the term “2000-Miler” which is forever linked to an award the ATC hands out to those who meet the Conservancy’s requirements of the moment).

    To prove this point, consider the hypothetical case of a hiker who walks very slowly (perhaps due to physical limitations) and is able to average only 5 miles a day — but who sticks to the trail and makes forward progress each day and who sleeps on the trail each night and who takes no zeros.

    Is that individual a thru hiker even though it takes him over a year to hike the AT?

    Of course — only an idiot would think otherwise.

    To put it differently, the “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck is is almost certainly a duck” standard matters most. If it moos and gives milk, probably is not a duck.

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    If a person hikes 5 miles per day and sleeps each night on the trail, that person can make a serious claim to be a thru-hiker. That person is intuitively more of a thru-hiker than most thru-hikers. But I've never heard of such a person. Although the ATC does not own the word, for any word in our language there is a point where it's use becomes a lie. For example, if I applied for a job at REI and claimed to have "thru-hiked" on my resume, but it turned out I'd never set foot in Maine, I'd think REI could legitimately say I'd falsified my resume. Similarly, if I took winters off and hiked the whole AT over two summers one might reasonably consider a claim to have thru-hiked to be a lie.

    The ATC has put a stake in the ground because all, or at least almost all legitimate claims to thru-hiking and "2000-miler" have minor ambiguities. For example, you walk off the trail to go around a fallen tree. You spend a week in Damascus (which is a trail town) or spend a week in Blacksburg (which is a bit off the trail). Take any minor ambiguity for what is otherwise intuitively a "thru-hike" or a "2000-miler claim" and expand that ambiguity (e.g. take a month in Richmond instead of week in Blacksburg) and it begins to feel less and less like a "thru-hike". At some point it ceases to actually be a thru-hike in any sense of the word. If something is unambiguously not a thru-hike in the most lenient sense of the word, then it begins to feel dishonest to claim a thru-hike. Personally, such things matter to me in what I claim to have done.

    The reality is that many claim to be 2000-milers who have knowingly and deliberately skipped multiple miles of trail in a single place. This is not ambiguous.

    The ATC's definition a thru-hike probably allows more hikes to be counted as "thru-hike" that intuitively seem to not be a thru-hike than it does exclude hikes that are intuitively thru-hikers.

    One could easily envision a person hiking July thru September one year and May thru June the next and technically meeting the definition of a thru-hike even though intuitively this not feel like a thru-hike. That, I would guess at least, would be much more common than a person walking 5 miles a day and never leaving the trail.

    Although one doesn't need approval for their planned approach to hiking, personally I would not want to claim to be a thru-hiker when I had not done anything one would reasonably call a thru-hike.

    Personally, I don't anticipate being in a situation where a claim to have thru-hiked to carry legal implications for myself, but my self perception of whether I am being honest or not is important to me. I would not want to say I thru-hiked if I took 16 months to do it and stayed indoors all winter. And I think for most people this matters for the same reason it would for me. And if I ever do decide to thru-hike, it is not likely that it's going to come down to me hiking 366 days versus 365 days. It will almost certainly be well under 12 months or far more than 12 months.

    For those reading this post, you don't need my approval and I recognize a 13 month hike can be just as much of an adventure as an 8 month hike. Likewise, you can really enjoy a 2180 mile hike just as much as a hike of 2192.0 miles. But if you stopped hiking after completing 2180 miles not because you're injured or out of time, but because you felt like 2180 miles was "good enough", all I could say is I totally cannot relate to this thinking. I suppose few would really stop 12 miles short of Katahdin, but from what I understand many hikers skip 12 or more miles along the way and consider their claim to being a 2000-miler "good enough".

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