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hikermike
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hikermike
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 3:13 am 
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If one were to try to attempt a trail landmark on the PCT,  Would a flipflop be as legitimate as an end to end hike if it were to be completed in the same season?  Or would the effort carry an "*"  and if one were 74 would it mean anything?
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RandyHiker
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 5:44 am 
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AFAICT the * is used to denote equestrians

https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/thru-hiking-long-distance-hiking/2600-miler-list/

But you should contact the PCTA about their requirements for being included on their list.

If you care about such things anyway.
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hikermike
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 6:16 am 
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Actually, they don,t address this..on purpose.  So as to leave the question open and not to be the judge.
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markweth
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 7:45 am 
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Rather than a "*", if you do what you're describing as a 74 year-old you get a TTU (Triple Thumbs Up) from me%. That would be a remarkable accomplishment and inspiring to me as a 30 year-old who wants to continue backpacking into his 70s and beyond. So thanks for the inspiration!

% - Denotes a backpacker who is not affiliated with the PCTA or any other long trail association and has never hiked any of the name brand trails and has no desire to do so.

Ultimately, doing what you described would mean that you hiked the PCT as a flip flop in one season as a 74 year-old. Any notions of ethics, legitimacy, validity, etc. seems to be up to you -- as it should be. "Hike your own hike" as they say.

If for some reason the PCTA or general consensus among PCT hikers was that it didn't "count" if you did it as described would that really change your plans?

I was hoping this thread might be about the actual ethics of thru hiking and the impacts, which would be an infinitely more interesting discussion.

Many years ago, and I think it is still in some of its literature, Leave No Trace encouraged people to "visit less popular areas" as a way to reduce impact. The crowds flocking to the PCT and other name brand trails seem to run counter to this. But that is a discussion for another time and place, I suppose.
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Opus
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 8:14 am 
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I think a flip-flop hike is just as legitimate as going straight through.  This is actually they way many hikers do their trip depending on the year.  Last year there was so much snow in the Sierras I think the majority of hikers skipped that to finish the rest and return later.  Logistically this made sense since going through the Sierras would be so slow that one would hit snow in WA and possibly not finish at all.
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RandyHiker
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 8:26 am 
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Yeah, when I did a little section in 2001, I talked with a retired couple that had started a month later than the usual start time in order to have less snow to deal with in the Sierras.  They jumped on a bus near Klamath Falls to Manning Park and headed south.   This approach meant that in October they were in Oregon rather than the North Cascades. 

Seems smart to me.   Of course now you can't head south from Manning legally anymore, but an out and back from Harts pass isn't bad.
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Brian Curtis
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 9:19 am 
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You could never go south legally from Manning Park. It just wasn't patrolled as much. Back in the days you needed to pick up a permit for the Pasayten Wilderness at a ranger station there was the somewhat amusing situation where it was illegal to go into Washington from Maning Park, but you could pick up a Pasayten Wilderness permit at the park. I assume people still hike south from Manning Park.

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Token Civilian
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 10:05 am 
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What is a thru hike?
I suspect among the least controversial definitions is along the lines of:

"Hiking all the trail miles that are open in one season, in a more or less continuous effort, using the main trail route or well recognized alternative routes."

Squishy?  Yep.

Examples to clarify:
Hike Eagle Creek (before it burned) into Cascade Locks - thru or not thru?  Thru.  Well recognized alternate.  Ditto for the Crater Lake Rim vs the "stock" (and proper) PCT lower down.

Bus / car around Norse Peak Fire Closure - thru or not thru?  Thru.  Those miles weren't open, so the trail was ~100 miles shorter for those that got there when closed.

Walking into your off trail camp via one side trail and walking out on another side trail that puts your closer to the goal - thru or not thru?  Out west, thru (continuous foot prints).  In @$$hat east coast (AT) culture, they might say not thru, but they're turds for even thinking it.

Taking a week off at Kennedy Meadows to let snow melt or go to a family function - thru or not thru?  Thru, a week off doesn't really break the continuous hike / effort.

Bus / car around the High Sierra in 2017, due to the dangerous conditions and don't subsequently come back to "connect the footprints" - thru or not thru?  Not thru.  The trail was open (objective hazards notwithstanding), you simply got there too early and didn't come back.  Congratulations on being a very long section hiker, which is quite an accomplishment in its own right.  If, on the other hand, you go back and connect the foot prints after getting to Manning?  Thru, you hiked all the open miles in one season.

Hiking from Mexico to Cascade Locks, then going home, after having previously hiked from Cascade Locks to Manning Park - thru or not thru?  Not thru.  Congratulations on finishing section hiking the PCT which is quite an accomplishment in its own right.  Not Thru since you didn't hike all the open miles in one season in a more or less continuous effort.


In the end, it's all about being honest about what you accomplished.  Saying you "thru hiked" means a certain thing to most people, more or less what is in the above definition.  A person claiming a "thru hike" when they skipped sections not officially closed, or road walked to avoid difficult conditions isn't a thru and is deceiving themselves and others as to what they did.  Does that mean they didn't accomplish something grand?  Nope, not at all - a long section hike is a great personal accomplishment, just don't call it a thru.

Oh, and back to the original question, in re flip-flops.  Note how that isn't in the above, so much.  So long as you connect the foot prints for all open sections of trail in all the flipping and flopping, as far as I'm concerned a person is a thru hiker.
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DIYSteve
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DIYSteve
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 10:20 am 
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ethics? legitimate? IMO odd standards

Being honest about what you hiked is a matter of ethics, of course
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joker
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 11:17 am 
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Will it be fun? If you  finish according to plan, do you think you'll be glad you  set out with that  plan in mind?
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Pyrites
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 7:30 pm 
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If you hiked it all in one year Id call it a through hike. All those who go the entire trail without getting in a vehicle might complain. But as far as I can tell everyone runs into side towns ala Packwood or similar in autos. They all section hike.
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Adohrn
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Adohrn
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PostThu Dec 07, 2017 11:42 pm 
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I believe that getting into a car or not has more to do with supported or unsupported thru hiker designations.   This generally comes up when discussing Fkt (fastest known times).  All sorts of drama on this topic if your so inclined to follow it.  I personally just follow Heather Anish.

Token civilians description is pretty good.  Sums up everything I know and more.  I think most people who call themselves thru hikers if subjected to the strictest definitions would become long section hikers.  The simple act of hitching to and from town and not remembering to walk across the road would disqualify them.  Just remember there are no laws or governing bodies that adjudicate the thru hiker designation.  Hyoh
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RumiDude
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RumiDude
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PostFri Dec 08, 2017 12:23 am 
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There is lots of arguing about this on and off the trail. Sometimes they will couch their inquiry into your hike by asking if you are a purist. *bigeyerolls*  Yea, it gets crazy sometimes.

Pyrites wrote:
If you hiked it all in one year Id call it a through hike.

I think the majority of people involved would say this is it. Did you hike the entire trail in one hiking season? Then you thru-hiked. In my mind it doesn't matter if you took a week or two off to recover from an injury. It doesn't matter if you took the bus to the coast to celebrate the 4th of July and then returned. It doesn't matter if you returned home for a week or two to take care of some personal business. If you hiked the entire trail in one hiking season season, you thru-hiked, IMO.

Rumi      <~~~~impure


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Token Civilian
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Token Civilian
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PostFri Dec 08, 2017 6:20 am 
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Adohrn wrote:
I think most people who call themselves thru hikers if subjected to the strictest definitions would become long section hikers. The simple act of hitching to and from town and not remembering to walk across the road would disqualify them. Just remember there are no laws or governing bodies that adjudicate the thru hiker designation. Hyoh

See, this falls into the east coast AT pedantic @$$hat example I mention.

The whole side of road thing and side trails in / out of camp - meh......  Getting a ride around miles of trail?  Not thru.  Getting out of the car at the northbound trail head when you hitched from the south side?  An engineer would say, in the noise and still a thru.
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hikermike
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hikermike
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PostSat Dec 09, 2017 1:57 am 
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To reiterate what Brian said, it has ALWAYS been illegal to enter from Manning Park.  (I've done it once)  In the "old days,, you only needed a driver's license to enter and return from canada so there was no "entry stamp" into Canada on your passport so not having an "exit stamp" would not be noticed.  No evidence of a trip.  After 911, Bush had so much paranoia (listening to the ultraright) that he decreed that it was illegal fearing hoards of infidels would roar down the PCT with WMD's that they closed the Border officially.  As if that has happened... or could.
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Ethics of thru hiking
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