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  1. #41
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    I have also hiked patchwork. At one point, I had 12 different individual pieces. I currently have 8 spread over the whole trail. As said, it is very satisfying to connect two pieces together to make one larger one.

    My rules are that I will hike every single mile, but the direction is not important. If I have a choice, I will choose the easiest, for example, I ended two separate hikes at the NOC, so I never climbed out of it.

    I keep track of everything on a spreadsheet. I am currently 43% done. The only states I haven't hike in are Maine, Vermont, Maryland, and WV.

    Next up is 30 or 39 miles in PA, while visiting family.

    My breakdown looks like this:
    Percentage By State 4 of 15
    Georgia 78.1 78.1 100.00%
    North Carolina Only 96.4 96.4 100.00%
    NC/TN Border 169.2 217.7 77.72%
    Tennessee Only 74.6 74.6 100.00%
    Virginia 128.6 541.3 23.76%
    West Virginia 0.0 17.4 0.00%
    Maryland 0.0 40.9 0.00%
    Pennsylvania 61.2 229.2 26.70%
    New Jersey 42.5 72.2 58.86%
    New York 53.0 89.8 59.02%
    Connecticut 50.5 50.5 100.00%
    Massachusetts 44.0 90.4 48.67%
    Vermont 0.0 150.7 0.00%
    New Hampshire 144.6 161.0 89.81%
    Maine 0.0 281.8 0.00%

  2. #42
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I'm starting year 10 of a roughly 15-year plan to complete the trail in contiguous NOBO sections. I've finished over 1200 miles so far, from Springer up through Port Clinton, PA. I've started every section solo but there have been a few times when I've ended with a "partner" (usually another section hiker) that I ran into on trail. The sections I've completed so far are:

    October 2011 - Springer to Deep Gap, NC (7 days, 85 miles)
    October 2012 - Deep Gap, NC to Standing Bear Farm (13 days, 156 miles)
    October 2013 - Standing Bear Farm to Hampton, TN (14 days, 179 miles)
    October 2014 - Hampton, TN to VA 603/Fox Creek (7 days, 92 miles)
    October 2015 - VA 603/Fox Creek to Woods Hole Hostel (9 days, 113 miles)
    April 2016 - Woods Hole Hostel to VA 311/Catawba (7 days, 85 miles)
    October 2016 - VA 311/Catawba to VA 501/Glasgow (7 days, 77 miles)
    April 2017 - VA 501/Glasgow to Rockfish Gap (7 days, 77 miles)
    April 2018 - Rockfish Gap to Front Royal, VA (8 days, 108 miles)
    October 2018 - Front Royal, VA to Pen-Mar (7 days, 95 miles)
    October 2019 - Pen-Mar to Port Clinton, PA (12 days, 153 miles)

    A few things to note:
    1) I did not do any sections in spring until I made it into VA, because I wanted to avoid the NOBO bubble.
    2) I did not hike in spring 2015 or fall 2017 due to the births of my children.
    3) Due to longer travel times, I plan to do only one 2-week section per year for the northern half of the trail.
    Last edited by LittleRock; 01-06-2020 at 15:55.
    It's all good in the woods.

  3. #43

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    I agree with Steve V, I don't care what direction I am hiking. I also took advantage of gravity on occasion spotting cars in valleys when possible. I split the smokies in half starting at Newfound Gap both times. They were long car spots but had a chance to see some nice territory. around the park. I also on occasion would mix up hikes to avoid bad weather. The day I was scheduled to go over Mt Rogers the weather was real nasty, we just slacked a section north of the there to Partnership shelter on a rainy day and then jumped back to do Mt Rogers from the top in both directions over two days. Part of the fun to keep things interesting is to work out the options on the fly. We got real good in VA finding back roads and paths to shelters. At the end of hike we would drive to spot nearest the shelter and inevitably find a path of old road to the shelter. We were early season so usually had the shelter to ourselves and usually hauled out trash and aluminum foil from the firepit back to the car. We also found a few good restaurants and sometimes planned to make sure we ended up near them.

  4. #44
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    and then finish the last piece, a 21-mile stretch in TN that we've saved for last.
    This is interesting considering it's right in your backyard. What is the section and what is your reasoning for saving it for last?
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  5. #45
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    I started section hiking a few year back with the goal of finishing the AT at some point and maybe attempt a thru hike later on, this was when I was living in VA . Now that I am in TX it is a little more complicated but I intend to try and get some time in every year. This year I am heading to Springer and going up to NC. For me getting trail time is more about recharging and time away from the office, no one even tries to contact anymore when I am on vacation. I have have seen some amazing things and met some amazing people and that's what makes me throw on my pack and get on a trail no matter where I am.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    This is interesting considering it's right in your backyard. What is the section and what is your reasoning for saving it for last?
    Initially I think we assumed we'd finish at Katahdin, but that has changed. A few years ago there was a lot of controversy and some talk about relocating the northern terminus to stop short of Katahdin. To avoid missing out, we did Katahdin in 2016. So then we needed to pick a different endpoint. I wasn't willing to end our epic journey at some random unnamed gravel road crossing in the middle of nowhere. Since our anniversary is in November and we don't have experience or equipment for potential snow and ice on steep rock trails, it didn't make sense to finish anywhere up north. By that time, we had already done most of the South, except for several stretches of Virginia, and a bit of Tennessee.

    So the piece we have left is between Hughes Gap and Indian Grave Gap, which includes Beauty Spot. Because this is adjacent to or part of the Roan Highlands, for our finale we'll start at 19E and re-hike from there to Hughes Gap, then proceed on the last 21 miles to IGG. We plan to hike kinda slow, stretching it out over four days so we can end on the anniversary and savor the trail and the incredible views.

  7. #47
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    No patchwork for me; I tried to emulate a thru hike as much as possible while doing the entire trail in four sections over four consecutive years. 2014 to 2017.

    Each year I started in late May except the last year in late June. So really the entire hike was done in spring and summer. That was great.

    Logistically, each year took 6 to 7 weeks.

    2014 - Springer to Damascus. Living near Cleveland, I flew to Atlanta, then from Damascus took a bus to the nearest Amtrak station to home.

    2015 - Damascus to Harpers Ferry. Rode the Greyhound from Toledo to Damascus, then from HF rode the Amtrak home.

    2016 - Harpers to Rutland VT. Easy Amtrak connections to both.

    2017 - Rutland to Katahdin. Amtrak to Rutland, flew home from Bangor.


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  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    For those of you who have sectioned the trail or done a large chunk of it, how did your actual execution of it differ from your initial plan, and would you change anything about how you hiked the trail?

    Reason I ask, when I started out, I wanted to do as "pure" a section hike as possible - starting in Springer and always picking up where I last left off, in order to experience the trail as closely to doing an actual thru as I could. That kind of morphed into having concurrent sections going on, one from GA-NC-TN and the other in VA because it's in my backyard and I could knock it out at times when I couldn't make the trip further South.

    I now have a few gaps in my hike, and I'm hitting areas that just don't make sense for a quick trip. From paying for a shuttle for a really short section to lack of access points that would work for a quick weekend trip.

    So now the temptation is to just go and do what and where I can. I know the whole experience is unique to every individual, but wondering from those who have been there and done that...any regrets in a patchwork section hike? Any tips to get the most out of the experience as possible?

    Thank You

    Before now, I had some patchwork to fill in. The shortest trip I had to patch in was 19 miles from Spivey Gap to Indian Grave. I chose to do it on a snowy January weekend when daylight was minimal. I dont regret a single bit of patching in the whole trail. My other gaps started out hundreds of miles in length, I think the largest was Pen Mar, MD to Salisbury, CT. But over the years and trips, it all got filled in quite eloquently.

    Also, if you have only a "days" worth of hiking to do in a far off place, just plan a vacation for that area, go do the miles and then enjoy something there other then the AT, or rehike a section to make the gap not so small.
    Trail Miles: 3,978.2 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 59.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  9. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Before now, I had some patchwork to fill in. The shortest trip I had to patch in was 19 miles from Spivey Gap to Indian Grave. I chose to do it on a snowy January weekend when daylight was minimal. I dont regret a single bit of patching in the whole trail. My other gaps started out hundreds of miles in length, I think the largest was Pen Mar, MD to Salisbury, CT. But over the years and trips, it all got filled in quite eloquently.

    Also, if you have only a "days" worth of hiking to do in a far off place, just plan a vacation for that area, go do the miles and then enjoy something there other then the AT, or rehike a section to make the gap not so small.
    That's a reasonable solution when that happens but it is also has an opportunity cost and the hiker should consider whether they really want to take a vacation in say PA or NJ. I do suggest being careful about those "I'll get that later" thoughts. Lots of things to see and do everywhere though so make lemonade if you have to.
    "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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  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    I do suggest being careful about those "I'll get that later" thoughts.
    THIS^^^ Once in Maine on a NOBO I had realized I had missed more than 170 miles that I had to go back and hike SOBO that took me nearly a month since the miles were disjointed. On a PCT NOBO I missed nearly 350 miles mostly because fire closures and I din't want to do the long and soemtimes dangerous and remote road walks. It took 4 yrs before I grabbed those PCT miles. Glad I did because overall they were scenic cherry seasonally picked and enjoyable miles that I could do in whatever order and direction I wanted. This is one thing that has made me highly appreciative of doing trails as section hiker and in different directions and during different timeframes.

  11. #51

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    I started out regimental with no gaps for the first 800 or so miles. Now, my only regimen is avoiding the bubble.
    "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

  12. #52
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    Like most, I started off thinking I will try a few miles to see if I want to thru hike. I appreciate the challenge of a thru hike and envisioned myself up to the challenge. However, "life reality" hit and it never got a opportunity, and I find myself still working into my late 60's.

    So I became a section hiker as my time off allowed. I have been a section hiker for about 10 years now. I only now realize the beauty of section hiking while still in the working class; it gets you out of the house 1 or 2 times a year for a week or two at a time to get away from it all and lose the few pounds that snuck back onto your frame. Like many of the previous people responding, I thought the sequential method would work out. Unfortunately, my wife insisted (rightly so) that I have a hiking partner to go out with. A couple missed outings with the partner, as well as a couple departing the trail earlier on a SOBO and I also got a few gaps to fill.


    As a famous General once said, "Few plans survive after first contact with the enemy". The trail version is "Few plans survive after first contact with the trail." However, after all is said and done, tis better to section and fail than never section at all. I plan to go back and finish off my gaps, as well as keep pushing my last NOBO finishing point. Hopefully I will eventually fill in the whole trail.

  13. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    This is interesting considering it's right in your backyard. What is the section and what is your reasoning for saving it for last?
    I have some insane number of miles hiked on the AT, equal to at least 3 thru hikes, but I still haven't finished it.

    What's left? A couple of 20 mile sections in NH. Yes, my backyard. I can just do those at any time right? Right. Maybe eventually. I think it's actually harder to get around to doing your backyard then it is places farther away.

    Really, my only incentive to finish those sections is they have a couple of the 4000 footers I need to complete my list. Maybe this year There maybe a couple of other missing miles scattered about, but I'm not going to worry about those...
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  14. #54
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithjv View Post
    As a famous General once said, "Few plans survive after first contact with the enemy". The trail version is "Few plans survive after first contact with the trail."
    Lol ain't that the truth. That's pretty much life. In terms of the trail, I learned basically after my first section hike where I planned daily mileage and stops, that it all goes out the window when you get out there. Plus it's more fun to go with the flow. Sometimes people will post these detailed itineraries for various hikes, and I'm thinking good luck with that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon View Post
    No patchwork for me; I tried to emulate a thru hike as much as possible while doing the entire trail in four sections over four consecutive years. 2014 to 2017.
    Man, to me that is about as ideal a section hike as one can do! 6-7 weeks a pop, you can really get into the groove and live the life so to speak. It's like you got to do 4 thru's. There's no way I could swing that with my job though.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    Lol ain't that the truth. That's pretty much life. In terms of the trail, I learned basically after my first section hike where I planned daily mileage and stops, that it all goes out the window when you get out there. Plus it's more fun to go with the flow. Sometimes people will post these detailed itineraries for various hikes, and I'm thinking good luck with that!



    Man, to me that is about as ideal a section hike as one can do! 6-7 weeks a pop, you can really get into the groove and live the life so to speak. It's like you got to do 4 thru's. There's no way I could swing that with my job though.
    Well it helps to be retired. I finished when I was 72!


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  16. #56
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon View Post
    Well it helps to be retired. I finished when I was 72!
    Lol, that certainly helps! I was trying to figure out what you did for a living to swing those trips because I had you pegged to be around my age based on your pic. Bad....er good lighting?
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  17. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    Lol, that certainly helps! I was trying to figure out what you did for a living to swing those trips because I had you pegged to be around my age based on your pic. Bad....er good lighting?
    Having met Deacon when hiking in NH I would say he could pass for the fitness of a fourty year old.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
    Richard Ewell, CSA General


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