MagazineApril 2012Should Section Hikes Count as Legitimate Thru-Hikes?

Should Section Hikes Count as Legitimate Thru-Hikes?

YES: 30%

It’s just a very slow thru-hike with lots of consecutive zero days.
—RevLee, Wilmington, Del.

I would feel the same sense of accomplishment completing a trail, section by section, as I would completing it as a legitimate thru-hike. It’s not about the miles; it’s about the smiles.
—B.A., via the web

As long as each section starts exactly where the previous hike ended, then I say yes. I walked every step of the Colorado Trail that way and saw the same sites as the thru-hikers. I had to build up strength and endurance each time I started a new section.
—Trip Kirk, Baltimore, Md.

No: 70%

A thru-hike is a continuous hike, not a bunch of day hikes strung together. The whole ethic of spending extended periods of time in the endeavor is the point—and in my opinion should be the definition of a thru-hike.
—Kim Deacon, via Facebook

I’ve done a fair amount of section hiking. If I ever finish the A.T., I can’t really envision describing myself as anything other than a person who has section-hiked the whole A.T. There’s a big difference between running a marathon and breaking up that distance into three-mile lengths and doing them over a long period of time.
—Karl Kunkel, Hollywood, Fla.

I am seven years into section hiking the A.T. When I make it to Katahdin, I will in no way consider myself a thru-hiker. A week or two versus six straight months requires completely different levels of psychological readiness.
—Ben M., San Antonio, Tex.

Anyone can spend 20 years hiking the whole trail in sections, but it takes a special kind of hiker to hike the whole trail at one time. Doing it in one hike means having to sacrifice everything to complete your mission.
—Michael Brouillette, Austin, Tex.

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