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  1. #1
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    Default Considering a second thru-hike

    I am retiring next spring and want to celebrate in some way. Considering another thru hike (my wife loves what she is doing and doesn't want to hang it up just yet so I am avoiding anything exotic or overly $$$), although this time going SOBO. My first hike was NOBO and over a decade ago. Can anyone elaborate on the differences the second time around??? One of my thoughts is that I was going to finish the first one come hell or high water. That mentality helped me get through the inevitable rough stretches. I don't have that mindset anymore for reasons unknown. I appreciate any shared wisdom or insights that you have on the second time around.

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    Just curious why the AT again? Don't get me wrong I love the AT, but with so many other LD trails to explore why not try a different one?

  3. #3

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    Mindset, which you mentioned lacking for your second thru, is an important component of finishing. You might consider just hiking the sections you found most enjoyable on your first hike, and skipping over the least enjoyable sections.

  4. #4
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    Just curious why the AT again? Don't get me wrong I love the AT, but with so many other LD trails to explore why not try a different one?
    Yes! I agree, especially if you think you might not finish, why not go with another, shorter trail. I did the Colorado Trail in 2020 and loved it - only 487 miles. Last year I did the Arizona Trail and while I don't hold a similar affection for it as I did the CT, it was great hiking the different terrains and especially going through the Grand Canyon. It's hard to get a permit for the Pacific Crest Trail, but it's worth a try and it's a very popular trail with hiker participation similar to the AT.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  5. #5
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    I've done 1.5 hikes, but all very focused on finishing. I too wonder this same question - What keeps you on the trail through adversity if it's not the goal of finishing? For me, I'm see a shift of less the 'peak experience' of finishing, and more the 'enjoy the moment' experience as I am aging (although I still have a lot of focus on the peak experience still. It's a work in progress). I think a lot of people still finish end to end hikes who are focused on the 'enjoying the moment' because it is still rewarding to be out there.

    I don't see an issue with rehiking, or a new hike. There's lots of fun things out there, but new doesn't have to be better. There is beauty in see the same thing in a totally new way.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    Just curious why the AT again? Don't get me wrong I love the AT, but with so many other LD trails to explore why not try a different one?
    I appreciate all the feedback and I do find myself exploring other trails frequently. If I had to say what drwas me back to the AT is the absolute ease of the logistics since I am based here on the East coast relatively close to the AT. I do have a long distance hike picked out in Europe for the NEXT adventure but that will wait until my wife retires and can join me.

  7. #7

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    You never hike the same AT twice.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    You never hike the same AT twice.
    Very correct.

    Did a 700mi lash in 11' and 1800mi lash last year in 21' to finish up.

    Both were remarkably different hikes. Not only in the advancements of tech, gear, and the way I was heading, but also, in the general mentality of people on the trail. Perfect analogy for it, like comparing 80's-90's burning man to today's. Two totally different crowds.
    I loved both hikes for their own reasons of course, but, I can't say I am not a little jaded of my first hike. Maybe it was just 21' was the year of the "Karens" and I rolled unlucky with trail gods, but people are weird AF out there now. Multiple times we rolled up on full
    shelters to greet people with a hardy hello and only to receive blank stares in return. If you don't meet one of the mouth breathers, good chance it's someone with an opinion on politics or religion or thou are holier complex to shove down your throat, but, I am getting
    a little long in the wind on complaints. There were still plenty of helpings of kind and good souls looking to connect on that foot path that brings so many of us together. When it comes to the rough sections, you will just churn thru them like you did last time. Ended up
    re-hiking about 300 miles myself and never thought of skipping ahead until the last when the plantar fasciitis came to a boiling point. Still wish I could have finished with the pack of us bouncing around each other, but, I am humble to be finish with the whole thing itself.

    Will I hike it again? Absolutely. My brother from another mother that I ended up hiking 1100mi with is having his first child this coming March. When that child turns 18, and if they want, a full funded trip with 2 getting old men is up for grabs. ( We already figure we will be
    hiking it alone and he will be running along with his age group =D )

    Before that though, we will be running off to do a thru of the PCT in 7 years and fitting in the CDT sometime after that. Might do that one in sections, couple buddies that thru-hiked said if they were to do it over they would hit the CDT in sections. /shrug
    Anyways, good topic. Thanks for posting. Weigh in some other options as well but if your heart is set on the AT again, def do it!
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." J.R.R. Tolkien
    -=POSSUM=- Rollin..

  9. #9
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    I have a love for the AT, but since a thru is not a possiblity for me right now, I end up hiking sections over and over, like all of Ga N and S and some W.NC sections. I'm always surprised how new it seems to me, yet so familiar at the same time. I think you might even enjoy it more the second time around, and potentially, find more to enjoy about the trail itself which may reduce those times where you need strong focus to keep going. I think perhaps its the connection to the trail that is stronger and feels more personally endearing, rather than a challenge.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  10. #10
    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    I've only done one AT thru ('14) but I still section hike and work along the corridor a fair bit. All of the things you learned on the first hike will come back to you quickly, and you'll make better time of another hike both in terms of pace and what you choose to spend money / time on in town. In terms of what has changed, you'll discover an increase in services (hostels, shuttles, trail angels,) a significant lightening of gear (if you so choose,) and way more people on their phones. All in all though its the same AT experience as 10 years ago with considerably more tech accessibility should you desire that.

    I agree with others about scratching the itch with another LDT or shorter thru hike to see if you're really in the mood for it. I highly recommend the Foothills Trail for a weeklong shakedown. It's a near perfect trail end-to-end.

  11. #11

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    I second the recommendation of the Foothills Trail.

  12. #12
    Garlic
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    Immediately after my AT thru, actually while standing on top of Katahdin, I thought about another, SOBO thru hike. I get wanting to do it again.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  13. #13

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    Been thinking about this for a bit. There is certainly a case for going somewhere new.

    However, I’ve found in numerous trips to Paris (thanks to my Francophile spouse) that familiarity gives one a quieter mind that can be more present and observant. Each trip gets richer as my need to adapt to a “foreign” environment is reduced.

    Reflecting on my recent thru (and yes, fantasizing about another), I can imagine that familiarity with the routine would let me enjoy the hike more. Knowing how the logistics work, the general nature of the terrain, how much to trust Guthook/ Farout, etc. Loved my thru, and part of the enjoyment was working thru all those matters. But I am sure the attention I had to give them took away focus on other things that on a second trip I would enjoy.

  14. #14

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    A friend of mine did a second thru "to see the other side of the trees" and it was a totally different hike, well worth doing.

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