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Thread: Slackpacking

  1. #1
    Registered User greenpete's Avatar
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    Default Slackpacking

    Halfway done with my first thru-hike. Since Springer I've learned about slackpacking, which I previously didn't know about. I'm amazed at how many thru-hikers resort to this method of distance hiking, once the grind sets in. From what I see, full packers like me - those who try to carry their homes on their backs the whole way - are the minority. The thinking seems to be "Everyone else is slackpacking, why shouldn't I?"

    Isn't slackpacking another way of "cutting corners"? I'm guessing many slackers might regret taking this "easy" option after reaching Katahdin.

    Thoughts, anyone?...slackers and non-slackers?

  2. #2

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    Why does it bother you how they hike?

  3. #3

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    Hike your own hike.

  4. #4
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    It's basically the difference between a "supported" hike an an "unsupported" hike.
    Though you could argue that anyone who so much as does a resupply is sort of a type of support.
    So it's really just a spectrum of support people are receiving.

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    Walking past every Blaze is a Thru-hike. How you do it doesn't matter, those who think otherwise allow their judgmental ego's get in the way.
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind.....Then Join In

  6. #6
    Registered User greenpete's Avatar
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    Good question. I guess it would bother me if they claim to be a thru-hiker without the caveat to others that they slacked. Similar would be a home-runner slugger who covertly used steroids to boost his stats. It diminishes the achievements of full-packers.

  7. #7
    Registered User greenpete's Avatar
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    Actually, you and a vehicle hike and drive your own hike.

  8. #8

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    We call it hiking if we walk a section of trail, no matter what we choose to carry that day.

    It's still thru hiking.

  9. #9

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    it doesnt matter. Enjoy your hike however you wish
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 167.0
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    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenpete View Post
    Halfway done with my first thru-hike. Since Springer I've learned about slackpacking, which I previously didn't know about. I'm amazed at how many thru-hikers resort to this method of distance hiking, once the grind sets in. From what I see, full packers like me - those who try to carry their homes on their backs the whole way - are the minority. The thinking seems to be "Everyone else is slackpacking, why shouldn't I?"

    Isn't slackpacking another way of "cutting corners"? I'm guessing many slackers might regret taking this "easy" option after reaching Katahdin.

    Thoughts, anyone?...slackers and non-slackers?
    To me personally the WHOLE POINT of backpacking is to get in the woods and stay in the woods as long as possible---without the desire to see cars or roads or traffic or folding money etc. The reason I go backpacking is to drop out of "Syphilization" (Abbey's word) and reconnect to my Cro Magnon past Ergo no slackpacking for me, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by greenpete View Post
    Good question. I guess it would bother me if they claim to be a thru-hiker without the caveat to others that they slacked. Similar would be a home-runner slugger who covertly used steroids to boost his stats. It diminishes the achievements of full-packers.
    Agree with the steroid analogy. To me slackpacking is simply Dayhiking. In my understanding a slackpacker has no intention of spending the night in the woods. See---

    https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-slackpacking-1766138

  11. #11
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm 100% with Tipi. I dont mind people doing what ever kind of hike they want and saying they did the AT . But once it comes out they slack packed or spent a big percentage of nights off trail then in my mind they took short cuts and choose to avoid the full experience.

    We each have our own goals and needs so however you experience the trail is great as long as it makes you happy.
    For me 10 day no resupply sections check all the boxes. I'm still hoping to be able to put together longer outings with PO drops but for now my wife gets unhappy with more than 10 days.

  12. #12

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    If you got the money, why not? The down side is it gets really expensive.

    I once did a 75 mile slack in southern Maine, I figured it cost me $250 to do those 75 miles, and I was splitting some of the costs with another person, and that was like 7 years ago. Was it worth it? Well, doing those miles slack packing was a whole lot easier then doing it with a full pack. Not being loaded down, I could enjoy the trail and the views more. We had a comfortable place to spend the night and a near-by country store with a grill that kept us well feed for 4 days. One could get used to that luxury!

    But like I said, it gets expensive if done regularly. I can see doing a slack once in a while. Parts of NH and Maine are a lot easier as slack. Provided you have enough money left!
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  13. #13

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    Folks start running out of time on occasion and want to take a break. Attitudes change from half way up to my territory in NH. I am a lowly section hiker and found that the piece of paper that I signed with the AT claiming my finish only required walking from Maine to Georgia. No questions about how I did it with a pack on my back or without. Unless someone starts at GA with all the gear, food and equipment to finish at Katahdin every hike is a compromise.

  14. #14
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    Who cares what we think of another's hike or what they think of ours?

    Starting in 2007, I've walked 700 miles of the AT, from Springer to Catawba, Virginia. I've carried a full pack except for two slacks (Uncle Johnny's to Indian Gap, and the Pond Mountain stretch, totaling about 17 miles). I accidentally missed one short section of trail, instead walking a gravel road north from I-40. This year I intentionally diverted from the trail to walk from Trent's Grocery to Dismal Creek Falls. I know what I've done and why. What anybody else might think of it doesn't matter, nor does what I might think about another's hike matter.

    P.S. Good to see a post by wornoutboots (above). He's the only Whiteblazer I've ever met in person. Me and my two boys met him at Sassafras Shelter, north of Wesser, in October 2010. Wornoutboots was sectioning south from Fontana. A woman at the shelter was soloing north. They exchanged car keys, a testament to ingenuity and the trustworthiness of the trail community.

  15. #15
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I don't slackpack but people who choose to don't bother me.

    Once I saw a thru-hiker slackpack 10 miles in the wrong direction (as in, re-hiked 10 mles of trail they'd just hiked the day before) before realizing their mistake. That was pretty darn funny.
    It's all good in the woods.

  16. #16
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    Tipi is correct about the whole point of backpacking but nothing defines a thru-hiker as a backpacker. If you want to differentiate yourself then you are attempting to thru-backpack the trail just as others attempt to white-blaze the trail. I agree with hike your own hike as long as people are respectful of other hikers, locals, the trail etc. My thru hikes were backpacks but that was my choice. Slackpacking even one day greatly reduces the impact on the trail, outhouses, camping areas, shelters wildlife etc. and allows for a more wilderness-like experience for all. They start and stop at different places/times so are are frequently out of synch with other hikers, Many catch the same rides so they pass or are passed all at once and are gone. Many times leaving early, I had the trail all to myself for a few hours. Likewise, hitting the trail as a slack packer, supported hiker, day hiker etc. frequently gives that same opportunity to avoid the crowds as they leave campsites, shelters, huts etc. in masse. Being selfish, I strongly encourage slackpacking and wish is was discussed everywhere. Let other AT hikers stay in stinky crowded noisy $ hostels while you can stay in mostly free stinky crowded noisy shelters... in the great outdoors.

    Whether you complete the trail or not, in one year or fifty, with or without a backpack it will not matter. You are a member of the unique long distance hiking community and that is what matters.

  17. #17

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    Some people hike barefooted.I wonder if they think that those who wear shoes are cheating somehow?Also can't help but wonder what Ms. Gatewood would think of everyone's essential modern gear? It's all relative so just do what you wanna do out there as long as nobody gets hurt....

  18. #18

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    I didn't have a choice as the person I was hiking with had developing ankle issues. If we went out for more than 3 days with backpacks his ankle started acting up and he would need to put on a special brace plus our miles suffered. We switched to key swapping and he would inevitably be waiting for me when I finished my daily hike. Our impact to the trail was quite low. We didn't have to depend on water and hiked off season. On occasion we would stay at a shelter off the bubble and usually would haul a bag of trash out of the site including the tin foil ball that builds up in fire rings due to mistaken assumption that tin foil burns.

    The other major benefit was that we got to see a lot more of the territory, the AT is green tunnel along the ridge line, we found a lot of nice drives while moving cars and shuttling. There is lot of nice territory just off the AT.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-03-2021 at 10:33.

  19. #19
    Registered User greenpete's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Daybreak View Post
    Slackpacking even one day greatly reduces the impact on the trail, outhouses, camping areas, shelters wildlife etc. and allows for a more wilderness-like experience for all.
    Good points, and I agree with what you ticked off except for the "wilderness-like experience" part. You (and others) conveniently leave out the automobile aspect of slacking. MacKaye and Avery intended the trail to be an escape from urban life and modern living. But when you employ a car to haul your gear, when you remove the home-on-back aspect that most non-hikers associate with distance hiking, you're defeating that purpose...aren't you? Certainly we ALL now rely on some degree of modern convenience to make our hikes less difficult (cellphones, GPS, pocket rockets, etc.). It's an issue of how low some hikers want to set the bar, in my opinion.

    Just my observation, and thanks for the civil discussion here.

  20. #20

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    You're still determining the adequacy of someone else's thru-hike based on some definition of backpacking. It's certainly okay to approach it as a long backpacking trip (it would be my preference to do so), but that's just one approach. There's a reason it's called 'thru-hiking' rather than 'thru-backpacking'. End to end on foot. All that matters.

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