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Thru-hiker Envy

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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby longri » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:56 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Thru-hiking is a specific style of hiking and their equipment is targeted for that. Thru-hikers, although solo, are essentially in a larger unorganized group. Safety margins can be squeezed because there usually are others coming along within a few hours, if you get into trouble. And due to their long mileage days, they can usually camp at lower elevations (milder climate).

That's a very narrow definition. It's really a statement about a sub-set of individuals instead of about the activity itself.

I think an unfortunate byproduct of the popularity of the activity is that it has garnered a critical and often biased reaction.



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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:03 am

Thinking out loud again.. guessing most thru-hikers don't carry a SPOT or a plb and are waiting for someone to save them (if needed) who comes along later?
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby MichaelRPetrick » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:34 am

Safety margins can be squeezed because there usually are others coming along within a few hours, if you get into trouble. And due to their long mileage days, they can usually camp at lower elevations (milder climate).


From all my experience, having volunteered frequently back East doing trail work along the Appalachian Trail, in addition to three JMT hikes, I think I'd have to generally agree with Daisy's assessment of thru-hikers. I once was one of those hiking like that. So critical, yes - biased, no.

One interesting aspect that I couldn't find in the discussion here is the negative physical effects of thru-hiking - which is the main reason I don't have thru-hiker envy. I did a 9 day fastpack of the JMT, and suffered permanent albeit very mild nerve damage in my feet. This is fairly common among thru-hikers, as the topic comes up fairly regularly on backpacking forums. One PCT thruhiker I ran into wanted to do the PCT right after the AT, but had to take a season off to let her feet get back to a useful condition!

guessing most thru-hikers don't carry a SPOT


I found a lot of them had SPOT devices. But I haven't been in heavy thru-hiker traffic in two years.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Jimr » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:06 pm

Hobbes wrote:Sh!t Brian, how much weight have you lost?


LOL, that was my first thought. "Damn dude, lookin' trim.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 10, 2016 5:32 pm

Jimr wrote:Ooh, I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo


well, if you can't sing it to them, they can listen to it before hand.

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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby CharlieW » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:37 pm

When I lived in N. Cal. through the 90s I made frequent trips of 4-5 days in the Sierra and other wonderful places and never gave a second thought to any sort of "long distance" backpacking. However, after living in the Midwest now for 16 years out of career necessity, I find these shorter trips to be too infrequent and not quite satisfying when they do occur. So last year I finally "did the JMT." And I will be doing it again this year. I'm well aware that there are other possibilities in the Sierra and elsewhere, but the JMT gives me an organizational principle I can use to break out of my Midwest funk.

However, it's a different kind of thru-hiking when one goes only 10 mls/day along the JMT. Hiking takes up a large portion of the day, but there are still many hours for local exploration, photography, meditation, etc. And 3 weeks is just enough time (for me).
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Hobbes » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Andy & I ran into this couple 6/3 as they were hiking north from the S Kings crossing towards Mather. We chatted a bit, giving them the low-down on Mather & Muir. (Technical requirements about Mather; vast snow fields south/north of Muir.) They seemed a little bit tired (who wasn't?); as it turns out, they bailed on the Sierra @ VVR after having a bad experience crossing Evolution creek. (One of them slipped and fell into the current.) After considering their options, they skipped up to Donner while planning on completing their hike back in the Sierra this fall.

Anyway, this post summarizes some of their thoughts @ the midway point:

https://andyandlaurie.com/2016/07/11/th ... -midpoint/

Thoughts from the midpoint: Thru hiking isn’t glamorous, no matter how much major retailers try to market it as such.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby SCandy » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:22 pm

I found this whole PCT thing very interesting. It took a while for me to grasp what the whole process was and how incredibly organized it has become.
Lists, spreadsheets, product endorsements, debates, mapping options, blogs, nutritional info, etc , etc.
I think the biggest impact on something like this trek has probably been the internet and social media. All these people know pretty much what they are going to do in a bunch of bite sized chunks that are all well documented down to the nth degree.

Kind of reminds me of when my daughter went off to college a few years ago. She mentioned something about how well she already knew the social scene at her new school. She told me she had been following it all "on line" for the previous year. In away she said she was disappointed, not as much adventure and surprise ahead.

Things are different now.....
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby paul » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:14 pm

Getting back to the original question here – I have some envy but I am ambivalent. I’ve thought a lot about doing the PCT, though now I’ll have to wait until I retire, what with putting kids through college and all that; but I have never been certain I want to do it. The longest trip I have done was 5 weeks back when I was a teenager, and I have also done the JMT which for me was 19 days. The thing that appeals to me besides the simple pleasures of the walking is the opportunity to get fully immersed in the experience. I find that on the longest trips I have done there was a brief period in the middle of the trip when the trip was my life, in essence. It was just what I did. Get up, eat, walk, rest, eat, walk more, eat, sleep. All the while enjoying the mountains. At the start it takes some time to adjust; at the end you are either looking forward to the end or dreading it (or both). It seems like the end parts are about the same length regardless of the length of trip, so a longer trip gives you more middle, that sweetest part. And hopefully a trip of several months duration would result in a deeper immersion. That is the appeal I see. And yet, as I say, I am ambivalent; I’m not certain I would want to do it. Would I really want to camp that many nights? Would the less spectacular parts of the trail get boring? I rather doubt I could find a companion with whom I could be compatible enough both socially and walking-wise, so I expect I would go solo –but would that be too long by myself? All questions that one really can’t answer except by doing it. And also there is the question of whether I would really prefer, if I had all that time, to just wander around all the out-of-the-way corners of the Sierra for a few months instead. Leave out the desert and the long forest miles and just be in the High Sierra for all that time.
The way that thru-hiking has developed in recent years does not add to the attractions for me. The traveling social community/party aspect is not my thing. In fact, if I was to do the PCT I would most likely go southbound in order to avoid some of that – and also to put myself in the Sierra much later in the year, a time I much prefer.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:53 pm

My "envy" may turn into the reality of a thru-hike. (At my age, it better happen soon if I am really going to do it). I would rather put together my own route. I am thinking about a "circle the Central Valley" thru-hike. First the Sierra and loosely following the PCT to the Marble Mountains, then cross west to the coast and walk the coast (there is a 2-part guidebook of the "Coast Trail" and an internet organization called "Coast Walk" does regular guided section walks on the coast.) After slowy section hiking the coast, doing most of the 58 California County high points and lots of long routes in the Sierra, my idea may just work! I think this route would have very few "boring" sections, with the downside being the highway shoulder miles on the coast due to private land access problems. Then cut over from Santa Barbara, to intersct the PCT. The nice thing, is that you could do the Sierra in summer, and the coast in fall and winter, which is actully quite nice (not fog season). Thus, you could take longer and not have to do a hideous amount of miles each day. The coast "trail" is much less done- I think only a handfull ofpeople have actually completed it as a thru-hike. The few who have done the coast, use a combination of motels, B&B's, campgrounds and primitive camping.

.
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Re: Thru-hiker Envy

Postby Jimr » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:41 pm

Interesting. You could almost start and end at your front door?
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