[at-l] Earl Shaffer's hike
jacko_1956 at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 5 08:01:45 CDT 2011
Having just joined this list and being on the other side of the world I don't want my first post to be one that ticks people off but nearly every entry that I have received so far has been on this topic and I am very surprised at the strength of some of the comments.
I thought that the US of A in general and the AT in particular was the birthplace of the Hike Your Own Hike ethos.
Whilst I am "almost" a purist in my own attitudes to hiking a trail, I fully expect that when my son and I hike the AT (hopefully next year otherwise definitely in 2013) we will follow some blue blazes if they provide a better view or outlook. The AT like any trail is a living creature and subject to change and what is a blue blaze alternative this year may well be a white blaze next year on the whim of someone in authority or because of some other factor. An earlier post mentioned having done the AT 16 times and following the white blaze everytime. I doubt very much that doing so would have been exactly the same from the first to the last. If you want to follow every white blaze that is well and good but IMHO if you walk from Georgia to Maine, carrying everything on your back, predominantly staying in shelter or tent and eating boring lightweight meals between town pigouts, climbing numerous peaks and through interminable bushes then you have hiked the trail. I think the fact that the ATC declare you a 2000 miler, not a 2168miler or a 2184miler entitles one to some slack. You may well THINK differently but to verbalise or post a statement that anything less is not a thruhike shows incredible conceit.
Bear in mind that I do not like that a slackpack counts and I certainly feel that a continuous hike (including flipflop) etc has a different "status" to some extent than a series of section hikes but I would never denigrate that or suggest that someone who claims thru hiker status by those means doesn't fully deserve the title. If the title doesn't fit what you in your head think it should it doesn't matter because you only have to have your own thru hike meet YOUR criteria. Everyone else is hiking their own hike.
And on Earl's hike - in 1948 by his own statement much of the trail was poorly blazed, much of the private land now resumed was still being farmed and many of the current facilities such as they are, did not exist. The ATC at the time interviewed him and declared him a thru hiker and the first and if accepted as such by his contempories it belittles us to nit pick about it now. I for one will not question the right to the title for a man who beat blisters by taking his socks off and filling his boots with sand to toughen his feet, rather than buying a new pair of Merrells or Keens at the next outfitters.
Perth West Australia
PS Mrs Joy can I just say that your journal entries last year were the best reading my wife and I had all year! :-)
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