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  1. #21
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    There was one common difference with section hikers during my thru: They tend to stay up late, start late, make a bit more noise, and just sometimes complain about thru hikers moving around too early. It really was never an issue. My rule was that after sunrise it was ok to talk softly but in a normal voice around camp. After sunset it was not ok. Section hikers sometimes had different ideas.
    That's funny, I experienced the exact opposite on my last section hike. It was fall and the days were getting shorter, thrus (all SOBO) would come in after dark and complain about having to night hike to make 20 mile days, but then they'd still be asleep at 8:00 when I left the shelter.
    It's all good in the woods.

  2. #22
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    About 1 in 4 or 1 in 5, about 20-25% AT thru-hiker attempters complete the trail as a thru-hiker. That means 75-80% of those identifying themselves as thru hikers are actually section hikers. Many just don't know it yet.

    Remember that when AT thru hikers start posturing and grandstanding.

  3. #23

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    Before my thru-hike attempt... I'd hiked a whole lot, but I had zero backpacking/camping experience. Etiquette was one of those things I worried about. My short answer is, don't worry about it. No one else on the trail has a clue either, and those with the strongest opinions about it are often the rudest to others.

    The example I like to use is this: Old guy gets angry at the young kids staying up late and making noise at the shelter, because "everyone knows" that hiker midnight is 9:00 pm... or 8:00 pm or some other arbitrary time. The young folks get angry at the old guys who wake up at 5:00 a.m. and have full volume conversations as they stomp around, because "everyone knows" that you should be quiet in the morning when people are trying to sleep. Simply, people tend to look at proper etiquette as that which benefits their style of hiking.

    I made a pre-hike commitment not to be the "trail police" because I didn't want to raise my own stress levels. Being around people, someone is going to piss you off eventually, but... it's entirely your decision on how to deal with it. When some jerk kept me awake at night, I still rose early, and quietly and made every effort to depart without waking anyone. Other folks seemingly try to get revenge, and end up waking everyone at the shelter to prove their little point.

    If you're considerate enough to even ask the question, you'll be fine.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    About 1 in 4 or 1 in 5, about 20-25% AT thru-hiker attempters complete the trail as a thru-hiker. That means 75-80% of those identifying themselves as thru hikers are actually section hikers. Many just don't know it yet.
    Remember that when AT thru hikers start posturing and grandstanding.
    This needs clarification. If you place yourself at a random position on the trail and talk to the next person who walks by who is attempting a thru hike, their odds of success are FAR higher than 25%. If someone needs a breakdown showing how probability theory produces this result I will be happy to explain.

    Most of the people I hiked with for more than one day were section hikers. Thru hikers generally are not at all arrogant around section hikers. But every group has its exceptions.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    This needs clarification. If you place yourself at a random position on the trail and talk to the next person who walks by who is attempting a thru hike, their odds of success are FAR higher than 25%. If someone needs a breakdown showing how probability theory produces this result I will be happy to explain.
    ...
    I don't think you are exactly right but you have some wiggle room. It's completely true at Springer for Nobos. Also, initial dropout rates are higher I'm fairly certain. So more people quit earlier and to balance out the 20-25% overall, less people quit later. It's not a steady 20-25% throughout the trail. I'm not sure the SOBO percentage is the same as well You have also rephrased it differently than Dogwood said it, he didn't exactly condition it like you did. Plus "odds" are different than percentages.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  6. #26
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    Very cordial post Puddlefish. However, that's shelter etiquette which does not have to be part of trail etiquette...if shelters aren't the thing an AT hike is based.

    @FGR. Look at ATC gathered stats. They are also accumulated by some others. It's drizzling in Alpharetta. It's friday. None the less time for a 5 miler one way to WF at Avalon(always on a trail food quest) and the Starbucks across the street on Old Milton. C'mon around. We'll talk. I'll be the one with the 1000 yd stare looking like a cross between someone who just rolled out of the woods, a runner, and a UL backpacker. Look at the shoes. They are telling.

    Thru hikers generally are not at all arrogant around section hikers. But every group has its exceptions.

    In general I 100% agree. It's when the ego level and supposed uniqueness of being a LD backpacker gets too far out in front which can be a more common trait of Newb LD wannabe thru hikers...which the AT is known compared to go with the flow I got better things to do I'm in The Zone mindsets of self directed all in LD serialists.
    You're last two yr trail resume tells me maybe your not as raw to LD hiking as raw Newbs.

  7. #27

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    Dogwood, your stats are correct. I am well aware of them. But some will misunderstand that to mean that 25% of those they meet on the trail attempting a thru have a probability of 20% to 25% of being successful. I do this stuff for a living. The odds of the thru hiker you meet having a 25% chance of success only applies if you meet them on day 1 of their hike. You are very unlikely to meet them on day 1. At the other extreme is the SOBO thru hike attempt you meet on Blood Mountain. Their probability (not “odds”, thank you) of success is near 100%. Also consider that the successful thru hiker spends many more days on the trail than the average failed thru hike attempt. So if you locate yourself randomly on the trail you are more likely to see the thru hiker hopeful who is spending more time on the trail and less likely to see one who is spending less time.

    It is easy to put real numbers to this and tell you the odds that the person you meet attempting a thru hike will go on to finish. But you have to make some assumptions about where people tend to drop out. We know that about 25% drop out in the first week, whether NOBO or SOBO. The rest of that data isn’t so accurate.

    Probability theory is often very non-intuitive and generates surprising results.

  8. #28
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    You are over thinking it. Start where/when you want, hike the direction you like, and enjoy yourself.
    Lonehiker

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Dogwood, your stats are correct. I am well aware of them. But some will misunderstand that to mean that 25% of those they meet on the trail attempting a thru have a probability of 20% to 25% of being successful.
    Ugh. Have to correct my typo. Trying to do this on an iPhone. It should read “some will misunderstand this to mean that when they meet a thru hiker on the trail that person has a 25% chance of finishing the entire trail.” The probability of any thru you meet finishing is actually much higher.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Ugh. Have to correct my typo. Trying to do this on an iPhone. It should read “some will misunderstand this to mean that when they meet a thru hiker on the trail that person has a 25% chance of finishing the entire trail.” The probability of any thru you meet finishing is actually much higher.
    You haven't proved your assumption.

    Suppose the probability that any thru drops out follows a memoryless distribution. Then the 25% success rate (75% dropout rate) would be always true.
    If it doesn't, suppose after the first week or two people drop out less often (or more often). That 25% will fluctuate, perhaps significantly. It's real world data and won't always be in one direction like you say. If it doesn't fluctuate significantly it is effectively memoryless.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Ugh. Have to correct my typo. Trying to do this on an iPhone. It should read “some will misunderstand this to mean that when they meet a thru hiker on the trail that person has a 25% chance of finishing the entire trail.” The probability of any thru you meet finishing is actually much higher.
    The probability of any thru hiker you meet finishing is highly dependent on where and when you meet them. If you meet a NOBO in NH in August, there is a good chance they will finish. If you meet a through hiker in Hot Springs in April, the chances of them finishing are much smaller. Meet them in PA in June, more like 50-50 chance.

    Etiquette should be the same for everyone. Mostly it applies to shelter stays or when in close proximity to others.

    Keep quiet when it's dark is rule #1. If you snore like a banshee, please stay out of shelters. If you must pack up before dawn, get well prepared the night before so you can do it quickly and away from the shelter. Not at the picnic table right in front. Or tent.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  12. #32
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    As per many of the responses you got here, you're no different than anyone else out there. The AT is public property and as such everyone has the same right to be out there and use it.

    Now I get the just of your question in that when one is hiking a small piece of the AT or starting section hiking it's easy to get wide eyed and put the thru hikers up on a pedestal as if they have some special status. I actually did this for the first few years of my section hikes. Then once I got some experience under my belt and some miles behind me I realized that there's no difference between myself and anyone else out there. We all are out there to hike and enjoy getting away from the grind. Whether it be for a day, week, month or whatever.

    So just go out there and enjoy yourself and the company of like minded others.

    And for the record, it's pretty funny how section hikers are viewed. You will get a lot of "oh your just a section hiker" type inflections when you tell people that you are section hiking, especially from thrus early in their hikes, locals and weekenders. What really opened my eyes was the awe some of the thrus had when they found out I was a section hiker finishing up 13 years of section hiking the trail this past August. I ran into several in the HMW and on Katahdin, and it was really neat to share true mutual respect for each others accomplishments.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
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  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    You haven't proved your assumption.
    Suppose the probability that any thru drops out follows a memoryless distribution. Then the 25% success rate (75% dropout rate) would be always true.
    If it doesn't, suppose after the first week or two people drop out less often (or more often). That 25% will fluctuate, perhaps significantly. It's real world data and won't always be in one direction like you say. If it doesn't fluctuate significantly it is effectively memoryless.
    I wasn’t attempting to prove it. I was simply trying to explain it in an easy to understand way. This isn’t the place for me to give a math lesson that very few people here are interested in. It’s not even clear to me where one should begin the math lesson for this audience. I am qualified to teach a course in probability theory, have a post graduate degree where I did this stuff for years, but this isn’t the place. What I have said on this subject is accurate.

    But I will give one more quick example instead of writing pages of mathematically proof.

    If 25% of NOBOs drop out in the first 31.3 miles (Neels Gap), then 1/3 of the remaining hikers will successfully complete a thru based on an overall 25% completion rate. If you stand at a random place on the trail then your probability of being north of Neels gap is .9875. The first thru you see if standing north of Neels Gap Now has a probability of finishing that is better than 25%. In fact, it is 33.3% or better, depending on where you randomly stood north of Neels Gap. So no, the success rate of a thru found ON THE TRAIL is not always 25%.

    If you stand at the Springer Parking lot in the fall and meet a SOBO their probability of success at that time is far more than 25%. It is now nearly 100% since they only have one more mile to go.

    Disclaimer: This message does not fully describe all outcomes. It simply provides part of the picture that hopefully helps with an understanding and demonstrates how your statement that the “25% success rate would always be true” is wrong. The success probability of an average thru improves as miles are completed.

    A memoryless distribution will be exponential. We could certainly build some good guesses at a probability distribution that describes the dropout rate, but that won’t change anything I have already stated.

  14. #34
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    As a trail maintainer in Georgia, I can say we LOVE section hikers. You help spread the load out so we don't have everyone crowding the first 80 miles of trail over the first 6 weeks of the season. (Ditto to all you SOBOs and flip-floppers.)

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    I wasn’t attempting to prove it. I was simply trying to explain it in an easy to understand way. This isn’t the place for me to give a math lesson that very few people here are interested in. It’s not even clear to me where one should begin the math lesson for this audience. I am qualified to teach a course in probability theory, have a post graduate degree where I did this stuff for years, but this isn’t the place. What I have said on this subject is accurate.
    But I will give one more quick example instead of writing pages of mathematically proof.
    If 25% of NOBOs drop out in the first 31.3 miles (Neels Gap), then 1/3 of the remaining hikers will successfully complete a thru based on an overall 25% completion rate. If you stand at a random place on the trail then your probability of being north of Neels gap is .9875. The first thru you see if standing north of Neels Gap Now has a probability of finishing that is better than 25%. In fact, it is 33.3% or better, depending on where you randomly stood north of Neels Gap. So no, the success rate of a thru found ON THE TRAIL is not always 25%.
    If you stand at the Springer Parking lot in the fall and meet a SOBO their probability of success at that time is far more than 25%. It is now nearly 100% since they only have one more mile to go.
    Disclaimer: This message does not fully describe all outcomes. It simply provides part of the picture that hopefully helps with an understanding and demonstrates how your statement that the “25% success rate would always be true” is wrong. The success probability of an average thru improves as miles are completed.
    A memoryless distribution will be exponential. We could certainly build some good guesses at a probability distribution that describes the dropout rate, but that won’t change anything I have already stated.
    Yes, 25% success should be the lowest rate you would find on a section (ie: the start of the trail passing all the new crew). Could be as high as 50% for the half way point
    So the average success rate at a random location is clearly 36.2988378947348933789478347789389789378943%, of course assuming the number of gale force wind days does not exceed 9.51%, and the norovirus rates are in line with expectation.

  16. #36

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    We'll take it to PM FreeGoldRush so as not to hijack the thread further.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  17. #37
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    There was one common difference with section hikers during my thru: They tend to stay up late, start late, make a bit more noise, and just sometimes complain about thru hikers moving around too early.
    I couldn't tell the difference. If anything, the late night hikers I've run into are the thru hikers, the psycho-lite 40 miles per day folks, or those seeking FKTs. I was hiking at the same pace as a bunch of thrus for a few days, some were night owls, others were the early birds. As near as I could tell, they were all people, and behaved for the most part... like people.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    you are over thinking it. Start where/when you want, hike the direction you like, and enjoy yourself.
    yes indeed!
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  19. #39
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    To the original poster: Here is what I did with my 4 kids and nephew on a section hike in 2018. We arrived in Damascus at about 1PM on Friday, the first day of trail days. We walked around trail days for about 2 hours to take in the experience, and buy a few things. Festival is free, but $10 to park. It was a cool experience and I got to meet a couple hikers whose vlogs I followed. We then drove our car to Fox Creek and met a shuttle driver there, James McConnell. We then shuttled back to Beartree trail where he dropped us off. It is short side walk to the AT at mile 482.4. We then hiked back to Fox Creek finishing Sunday evening.

    My point in commenting is that the shelters and campsites were sparsely populated. There were a few others out there, but most of the crowds were at trail days. Now, if we stayed out after Sunday (the last day of trail days) then it might have been a different story. I did notice quite a few people at Old Orchard shelter Sunday afternoon right before we finished at Fox Creek.

    Here was our itinerary:
    Date Miles State Direction Starting Point Mile # Ending Point Mile #
    5/18/2018 4.2 VA North Beartree Gap 482.4 Lost Mountain Shelter 486.6
    5/19/2018 12.4 VA North Lost Mountain Shelter 486.6 Thomas Knob Shelter 499.0
    5/20/2018 12.7 VA North Thomas Knob Shelter 499.0 Fox Creek Trailhead 511.7

  20. #40
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    I sectioned the AT over 10 years. I found that the closer I got to Springer my encounters with so called thru hikers degraded. Lots of folks who claimed to be thru hikers who actually where out to party. Once clear of Trail days, folks seemed to get their manners.

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