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  1. #1

    Question Hike alone? or with a partner?

    Hey everyone,

    I'm 21 and currently a college student in Johnson City, TN. I'm planning on taking this coming spring as well as next fall semesters off and starting a thru hike around March 15th.

    For those of you who are doing a thru hike or have already completed one, did you start alone or start with a partner?

    I'm not to worried about starting alone as I know I will meet and see many people along the trail. Just would like to hear some opinions.

    My biggest problem is finding someone who can take the time off and has the funds available to be able to do a thru hike with me.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    -Chris

  2. #2
    A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ 10♣ Luddite's Avatar
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    I had a partner but we got in a big fight over a poker game. So I guess I'm thru-hiking alone. Do you go to ETSU?
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Registered User Stitch/Belch's Avatar
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    Started alone. I'm glad I hiked alone, I think it would have been really difficult with a partner. You'll meet plenty of people to hike with along the way.

  4. #4
    A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ 10♣ Luddite's Avatar
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    Why do you think it would have been really difficult with a partner?
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    I had a partner but we got in a big fight over a poker game. So I guess I'm thru-hiking alone. Do you go to ETSU?
    Yeah, I'm currently a junior at ETSU.

    As of right now, I'm pretty positive I'll be hiking alone.

  6. #6
    Registered User Stitch/Belch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    Why do you think it would have been really difficult with a partner?
    One of the reasons I loved the trail was for the freedom it gave me. I liked being able to decide where and when to go without having to consult another person. The times I did hike with other people, we ended up getting frustrated and needing our space after a while. Because I was hiking solo, I was able to hike on my own again without worrying about anyone else. Also, I've found it's hard to find someone who hikes at the same pace as you.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch/Belch View Post
    One of the reasons I loved the trail was for the freedom it gave me. I liked being able to decide where and when to go without having to consult another person. The times I did hike with other people, we ended up getting frustrated and needing our space after a while. Because I was hiking solo, I was able to hike on my own again without worrying about anyone else. Also, I've found it's hard to find someone who hikes at the same pace as you.
    Good to know! I was thinking the same thing about the hiking pace. Since as of right now I plan on hiking alone, there is no consulting needed like you stated above.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch/Belch View Post
    One of the reasons I loved the trail was for the freedom it gave me. I liked being able to decide where and when to go without having to consult another person. The times I did hike with other people, we ended up getting frustrated and needing our space after a while. Because I was hiking solo, I was able to hike on my own again without worrying about anyone else. Also, I've found it's hard to find someone who hikes at the same pace as you.
    This

    I think solo is the way to go, but I would welcome the friends I meet on the trail that just happen to hike the same pace. IMO, go alone but you won't be alone for long.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  9. #9
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    I was definitely planning to go solo until a fellow I hiked a lot with on another thru-hike expressed interest in starting with me (he started, and never stopped until Katahdin; a trail junky, he's now done the AT twice ...).

    Barring something unusual like this (i.e., someone you've already hiked a lot of miles with), I'd strongly urge anyone to just start solo.

    It's not just about someone with the funds and the time, it's someone who is sufficiently compatible. The best trail partnerships are the ones that form ad hoc on the trail.

    I'd also suggest searching the archives as this topic in particular has doubtless been discussed again and again, with likely not too much new to add at this point (?).

    Some hasty examples (there are surely more ...):
    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=59031
    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=57737
    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=45598
    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=44140
    Gadget
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

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    I hiked solo probably 60% of the time on the AT and felt really good about having the freedom to be alone but also participating in the trail community. However theres ALOT of really cool people on the trail that I ended up hanging with for a day or a few weeks at a time. Ultimately I think solo hiking should be an essential element in a hike for your personal journey as well as sharing experiences with all the interesting people out there. My girlfriend and i finished a 1000 mile section of the PCT this year and learned ALOT about putting up with each other. We had problems at times as can be expected, but I think we both had more stamina and a much much more enjoyable time with the company. of course the PCT tends to be much more deserted (literally!).
    On a side note: I think everyone hiking the AT should experience the trail community!! Things like the trail-fest, HARDCORE, trail days, shelter partys, the doyle, the mayor's, the birdcage, long trail festival... they all are great opportunities to share with fellow hikers and are some of my most memorable experiences on the trail.
    If your concerned about companionship, I wouldn't worry about finding a hiking partner before starting the hike. I saw a lot of people likeminded team up early on in the trek. You'll see people who start around the same time and who hike about the same speed naturally fall in together.

    Happy Hiking!!

  11. #11
    Registered User So Far's Avatar
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    Started alone but you will meet the most amazing people on this planet...people that would do anything to help reach the goal of reaching ME!

  12. #12

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    One of the nice things about the AT is there's alot of flexibility and there's usually other people around - hike alone if you want or with another person for a few minutes to however long you choose. I just find it easier to go with the flow and see how the day turns out...

    Enjoy your hike and have a great time!

  13. #13

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    Thanks for all the great info and references. I agree and should have stated differently that it is not the funds and the time off to hike, it is the ability and companionship of the person one is hiking with. With this in mind and the information stated in this thread, I believe I am going to start solo and go from there.

  14. #14
    Not committing until I graduate! Sassafras Lass's Avatar
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    I'm walking with my husband. We are thoroughly looking forward to taking 5-6 months' time off from "real life" and just enjoying each other and Nature.
    Formerly 'F-Stop'

    If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one.

    ~ Dolly Parton

  15. #15
    Registered User jayboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCcummins View Post
    Hey everyone,

    I'm 21 and currently a college student in Johnson City, TN. I'm planning on taking this coming spring as well as next fall semesters off and starting a thru hike around March 15th.

    For those of you who are doing a thru hike or have already completed one, did you start alone or start with a partner?

    I'm not to worried about starting alone as I know I will meet and see many people along the trail. Just would like to hear some opinions.

    My biggest problem is finding someone who can take the time off and has the funds available to be able to do a thru hike with me.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    -Chris
    Dude I am in the excat same boat as you man, I am taking the spring off from school, leaving at the same time, I feel like I see enough people now with just my daily hikes on the AT that there would be a sufficent amount of company along the way.

    -Jacob Bouchelle

  16. #16
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    Just an FYI on some financial considerations / impacts - I believe that once you take off you will not be considered full-time at your college anymore for either student loans or tax purposes (one full-time semester per year will qualify you for IRS purposes). Any Stafford loans will have to start being repaid after 6 months, and if applicable, your parents will not be able to list you for tax purposes as a dependent student. You can get a deferment on the Staffords when you re-enroll and go back, but when you graduate you have to start paying immediately (because the six-months grace period has already been applied).
    "That's the thing about possum innards - they's just as good the second day." - Jed Clampett

  17. #17
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    Oh, and add that you probably will not be covered under your parents health insurance if you are not a full-time student.
    "That's the thing about possum innards - they's just as good the second day." - Jed Clampett

  18. #18
    Registered User jayboo's Avatar
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    I go to school for free no loans. But thank you for the heads up.

    -Jay Boo

  19. #19
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Just thowing it out there for those considering taking a full year off college as there are some financial concerns that aren't always considered.
    "That's the thing about possum innards - they's just as good the second day." - Jed Clampett

  20. #20

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    Thanks for looking out as far as the financial situation goes. I have no school loans, and the insurance has been looked into. I'm covered under my parents until I graduate. My step-mother is the national manager of a insurance company (won't put the company name) so she might have had some pull but it was for sure looked into. If I had grants and loan, that would be a different story. I talked to the administrators of the business program today and they said go for it! I do not have to re-apply for the business program which is great.

    My father was very concerned that if I was to take the year off, that I would have to apply to the school again and re-enroll in the business program. After I took care of that, he was relieved as was I.

    Thanks again and a great point!

    -Chris

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