Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail FAQ : A work in progress
Section Hiker Blog (totally the opinions of the author):
So you are thinking about section hiking the Appalachian Trail? Maybe you’re just planning a short section hike of the AT or want to see how many you can link together and even, what a goal, hike the whole thing.
FAQ: What is a section hike?
A: Really, it could be anything. Three yards is a section, albeit a very small one. Many section hikers are out for some time. When we did our section hike of the whole AT, it was done in some day trips, but every year we would take a good 1-2 weeks straight backpacking and knock out 100-200 miles.
FAQ: Is it cheating to slack pack sections?
A: IMO, of course not. Thru-hikers may slack pack sections and they’re still thru-hikers.
FAQ: Speaking of thru-hikers, is it a thru-hike if you complete the AT in sections, let’s say over a period of years?
A: Some say yes, some say no. My wife and I completed the whole AT in sections over ten years, but we don’t think of it as a thru-hike. I think a thru-hike is one competed in a hiking ‘season’, generally within the same calendar year.
FAQ: Isn’t it a lot easier to do sections?
A: Hmmm. It depends. For the most part (since I have not done a thru-hike), I would say yes, definitely, but I’ve heard that section hiking takes a lot more logistics and planning. I feel I know the road crossings a lot more than thru-hikers, because I planned the stops, food drops, parking, shuttle arrangements, etc., where a thru-hiker might be more familiar with the towns they went into. Another thing is that I know I trained for a section hike, but did not get good trail legs (and feet) until a good week or ten days in, then I went back to civilization and got soft for the next year. For shear physical and emotional endurance, though, the thru-hike has to be the hands-down winner.