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So you think you want to thru hike - part 6

So you think you want to thru hike.  Hiking with a partner.

Hi,  this is part six of a series of notes I'm sending around on thru-hiking
AT.  So far I've covered the following topics:
* Part 1.  Intro.
* Part 2.  Reading essentials
* Part 3.  Planning.
* Part 4.  Money considerations
* Part 5.  Hiking with your puppy.

I'll have the following notes covering these topics:
*What do I eat
*What should I take with me
*Blue blazing vs. white blazing and other stuff

I will try and avoid some of the conventional things that you can just read
in a book.

Hiking with a partner.  Wow.  How do I go about discussing this?  Hmmm... 
This is a difficult subject because it is so personal.  Hiking with someone
or alone is your own decision.  I will try not to sway you in either
direction.  I
will however, give some warnings and some things to think about.  

I started my hike alone (well, with my dog).  I finished with a partner.  I
with this new friend for about 1200 miles of the trail.  We worked well
together.  Very well!  She started with another person.  They didn't work!
went home after 700 miles.  I must say that I saw many trail partnerships
dissolve.  Seems that more dissolve than stay together and if one person
leaves the trail, it is very difficult for the remaining hiker to finish.
 I've got to
admit that I saw many more couples separate and not finish than I saw make
it!  Rumor had it that one married couple were divorced on the trail.  What a
sad memory to take with you when you should remember the excellent times
you've had on the trail.

I guess the word of the day is compatibility!  Before you decide to hike with
somebody remember how much time you'll be spending with that person.  It's
like a very unhealthy relationship at home.  You don't spend 24 hours a day,
days a week with your significant other.  This is just what some couples do
the trail.  Make completely sure you are compatible, that you communicate,
and most importantly, that you both have the same passion about hiking the
trail.  Often, I saw one part of a team driving the effort.  The second part
the team was really there for the other and eventaully the team would just

I've got to admit that if I were to hike the trail again, I'd hike it alone.
 This is
especially true if I was hiking northward where I knew I'd meet so many
people.  I know that I'd meet partners along the way and that I wouldn't have
to hike alone unless I chose to.  I formed several partnerships on the trail:
lasting 1 month and one lasting for 3 months.  These ad hoc relationships
really worked for me.  If I grew tired of the other, we could separate for a
couple of days.  We'd stick together because we happened to be hiking similar
distances and paces. 

There are benefits to hiking with a partner.  First, you always do have
company.  If you are compatible, the joys of the trail seem twice as good and
the miseries are half as bad.  To me there is nothing like sharing a sunset
someone else.  Also, you can share equipment and lighten your load.  Near the
end of my trip, I dropped over 5 pounds from my pack by sharing a tent,
stove, water filter etc...

The best recommendation I can give to people hiking with a partner is to have
a plan if the other drops out.  Either have backup equipment or plan to equip
yourself if your partner leaves.  I saw a partnership dissolve in Damascus,
The continuing hiker had all of his equipment ready to go.  The remaining
hiker made it to Kent, CT and would have finished if it weren't for physical

Lastly, remember that you are out there to hike the trail for yourself and
for your partner.  Set a goal to finish even if your partner doesn't.  

Hope you are all enjoying these notes.  Thank you for you positive support
and feel free to comment either directly to me or the group.

-Steve Lund
"Uncle Wolf"
GA->ME '95