[at-l] Earl Shaffer's hike‏

giniajim jplynch at crosslink.net
Tue Jul 5 08:19:14 CDT 2011

The HYOH ethos is very much alive and well.  So is accurately describing 
your hike.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jack Vanderbijl" <jacko_1956 at hotmail.com>
To: <at-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2011 9:01 AM
Subject: Re: [at-l] Earl Shaffer's hike‏

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 
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 

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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