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  1. #1

    Default What motivated the Crazy One?

    According to AT lore, in 1947 Earl Shaffer read a magazine article about the AT that claimed that a person could not complete a thru hike in a single season. My questions are, does anyone know what that magazine was, has anyone seen the article, and if so, can I get peek at it?
    Susquehanna Slim

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  2. #2
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    I'd be interested to know too. Why not email the folks at the Earl Shaffer Webpage and ask them? They mention the same thing on their site HERE.

    Their contact info is:

    http://www.earlshaffer.com/contactus.html
    Last edited by Spokes; 08-06-2012 at 21:19.

  3. #3

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    from wikipedia:

    "Shaffer enlisted in the army in 1941, was well along in his training at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, and did arduous and risky service as a forward-area radioman in the South Pacific into 1945. His friend Winemiller served in the Pacific Theater as well, and died in the Iwo Jima landings. Shaffer said he regarded completing the planned AT hike as a way of recovering from the stress of his combat experiences and from the loss of friends who died in the war."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Shaffer

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    i've known dozens of vets with PTSD over the years out walkin' the trail

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    A friend of mine was section hiking in 1998 and began talking to an older hiker at a spring. Later one of the people he was with asked if he knew who the man was that he had been speaking with. He did not know it was Earl Shafer. They asked him what he said. "I decided to hike the trail after coming home from the war [WWII pacific]. I figured that I would either get better or go crazy." He paused for a minute then grinned and said "I didn't get any better."

  6. #6

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    Thanks Spokes, I'll try the good folks that support the Earl Shaffer web page.
    Funny Waits line in your tagline. My favorite (so far) is "the big print giveth and the small print taketh away" from "Step Right Up". His latest record, "Bad as Me" is as good as anything he's done in 35 years.
    Susquehanna Slim

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  7. #7

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    Spokes,
    your suggestion worked. The folks that manage the Earl Shaffer web site responded. They said that the article in question was called "The Big Trail's Challenge" that was in the January 1947 installment of Outdoor Life. I have reached out to Outdoor Life to see if they can provide me with that article. Let's see where that takes us.
    Susquehanna Slim

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    Great! Please keep me posted!

    Here's what the cover for that issue looks like:

    http://www.outdoorlife.com/node/4459?photo=18

    Funny how it all starts coming together once you start digging deeper. The article is even mentioned in the July-August 2002 Appalachian Trailways News on page 10 in a piece they did on Earl.

    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/docs...ugust_2002.pdf

    I love this kind of stuff.
    Last edited by Spokes; 08-07-2012 at 22:26.

  9. #9

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    It would be so great if someone here could write a magazine article about this.

  10. #10

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    Maybe include the original article from Outdoor Life too with permission?

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    If memory serves, it was actually Myron Avery that wrote the article saying the trsil couldn't be done in a single season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coreybv View Post
    If memory serves, it was actually Myron Avery that wrote the article saying the trsil couldn't be done in a single season.
    I'm not sure who authored the original 1947 article but the ATN article link I included in post 8 above was an interesting read. It mentioned Myron Avery was not a fan of "fast hiking" and was intrigued by news of Shaffers thru hike attempt.

    The article went on to say Shaffer was "cross-examined" for 3 hours by lawyer and ATN editor Jean Stephenson about his hike. Shaffer submitted a detailed report and showed photograhic slides he took along the way. Obviously to dispell the skeptics of his achievement.

    Amazing.

  13. #13

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    Interesting bit about Myron Avery not being a fan of "fast hiking" and possibly also writing "The Big Trails Challange" article. While I'm still trying to get my hands on the original article from Outdoor Life, the Shaffer web people shared what I believe to be some text from the article. Here it is...

    “The Appalachian Trail is a footpath, mostly following the crest, which extends from Mt. Katahdin to Oglethorpe, kept clear by volunteers… A number of persons have tried it, and all have failed… It is probably the longest trail in the world, penetrating some of the wildest country in the east…”
    “…presents a challenge to daring individuals to walk its entire course in one continuing trip. A number of persons have tried it, and all have failed. Nearly always the cause of failure has been an annoying but minor injury. An accident to a knee, inflamed tendons on a heel, or sore feet. The real trouble lies back of that: the desire to push too much, to set toobig a daily walking stint, and so to keep going to steadily. Each person who has made the attempt has started from Mt. Oglethorpe and walked north, a route experienced hikers say gives full advantage of the walking season…. Of the many who have started out with determination to go the whole distance, most have quit after the first 100 miles. Nature rebels at the fixed schedule of daily distance and the steady grind. Some future day perhaps, someone will do what no one has yet done: go the whole distance. That person will stop to view the fine scenery, will take time out do to some fishing along the way, will lay off for a day or two if he feels jaded, and make a pleasure trip of it instead of a chore.
    While the author clearly believes the AT can not be thru-hiked in a season, he/she almost seems sympathetic to the mission. As if the only thing standing in the way was proper motivation (not the poor quality of the trail following a hurricane and lack of funding or able bodied folks for maintenance). Looks like Shaffer was crazy enough to be that properly motivated hiker
    Susquehanna Slim

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