[at-l] But!

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Thu Jan 21 09:24:57 CST 2010

Mark Hudson wrote:
> I was always taken aback on the trail when section hikers looked in 
> awe on thru-hikers. They're always doing the first two weeks, the 
> hardest two weeks. And talk about persevering - all I had to do was 
> follow white blazes for 2,000 miles and I was done. They had the 
> logistics of trying to set up the transportation loop every year, 
> getting to the trail, arranging shuttles, etc. Not to mention taking 
> 10 years or so to complete the trail (I don't think I have the 
> attention span for that!).
> Somewhere near Damascus we were leapfrogging with a crew of four or 
> five section hikers, for most of a week. One night we were sharing a 
> campsite, and one of the section hikers threw out a question along the 
> lines of "At what point do you consider a section hiker on a par with 
> a thru-hiker?" (I wish I could remember the exact wording - it came 
> out much better than my rough approximation there).
> This wasn't something any of us had ever considered. So we threw it 
> back and forth for a bit and decided that if you were out for two 
> weeks or longer, and not hiding from the weather in town or motels, 
> you were hiking what we were hiking, eating what we ate, hurting like 
> we hurt, and worst of all, smelling like us too! ;-)

As someone who had section-hiked over half the AT before I 
thru-hiked...and, have section-hiked another 500-or so miles since, I 
can say that logistically speaking section-hiking is much, much more 
difficult. It is probably 'physically' more difficult, as well, because 
your body never really gets to get into hiking 'shape'.  (OBVIOUSLY this 
depends on how long your 'sections' are. I've done over 100 miles twice. 
45-70 a few times. Generally 20-40 milers though). I think you need to 
be out 10 days or more...with at least a resupply...to get to a point 
that EVERY thing is in tune with each other: Gear, body, mind, hunger 
(cuz, it's really all about the hunger, isn't it?)  I think the 'on par 
with a thru-hiker' part is AT LEAST a two-part question: Mental and 
physical.  After 2 or 3 weeks your body is probably more capable of 
thru-hiking than your mind is.

Another thing...before the thru-hike, my section hikes were 
more...hmmm....important? I always felt disappointed if/when they didn't 
go as planned. As if I'd 'failed'.  Now, I don't care. I enjoy the 
hiking more. If I get from point A to B...and, they are the point A and 
point B that I had intended...great. If not...'guess what happened on my 

And, I /think/ I agree with Jim that thru-hikers aren't the top of the 
'food chain'...(though, am not certain I know what that means). I would 
also agree with Miguel...except he used the word 'obviated' and that 
just doesn't seem to be cromulent. 
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