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[at-l] Two Questions

Paul Miller wrote: 
> i am going to hike in 2000 or 2001. i wanted to what people thought
> about
> the year 2000(maybe even 2001).. i was afraid alot of people might try
> it
> that year and it might be overcrowded.   jsut looking for some
> opinions.  i
> want a good mix of people and no-people :^)

I would doubt that the new millenium would cause a _significant_ increase in the
number of people who set out to do the Trail. Even if it does, i'm sure it won't
affect the attrition rate, so as the hike progresses, the herds will thin. Then
again, it could provide a refuge from the Y2K problem :-)  Seriously though, this
should be the least of your worries. 
> and i was goign to hike it south bound..  there seems to be less people
> that
> do that... that appeals to me in a way .. but i still want to meet
> people
> and get that feel from the trail ... i do not want to be alone for 6-7
> months.. but i want to be able to be alone.. i still want to make some
> friends on the way but i dont want to be bound to follwing people all
> the
> time . and i was wondering what other people thought about this.

If you are going to hike southbound, you definitely should not worry about the
"millenium factor". Even if there was a 100% increase in attempted thru-hikes, that
means the number of southbound attempts would increase to about 18 :-) As for your
inquiries on solitude, here are some thoughts. You need to figure out exactly what
kind of solitude it is you are talking about. You can do a northbound hike and still
get a lot of solitude. You should remember that the majority of your time is going
to be spent hiking or sleeping. Hike alone. Sure, you'll pass people throughout the
day, and people will pass you, but you can get a lot of solitude this way. Do you
want solitude at the end of the day? Don't stay at a shelter. Fill up on water, grab
a bite to eat, and keep on hiking until you find a nice spot to throw your
tent/tarp/bivy up. You can leave Springer at the peak of thru-hiking season and
still make a lot of solitude for yourself. You have to carry a tent/tarp/bivy,
though (which i would recommend regardless). As for a southbound hike....

I wasn't directionally challenged when i thru-hiked last year, so i can't speak from
experience here :-) However.... when you start, you won't have the hordes of
thru-hikers that head to Springer with dreams of walking to Maine. You will have a
good number of people who hope to walk to Georgia though. You have more flexibility
of a start time if you go South to North. It seems to me that a lot of southbounders
try to hit Katahdin as close to the opening day as possible. I've heard stories of
50-100 people being holed up in Baxter or Millinocket, waiting for the mountain to
open so they could start. You are still going to get crowds in the Wilderness, and i
would guess in a good number of other spots in Maine as well. You are also going to
get a good amount of traffic in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. You are also
going to have the waves of northbounders. These waves will run from July through
October. So you still are going to have waves of other thru-hikers you are sharing
the trail/shelters with, only you won't have as good of a guesstimate on the volume
because you're hiking towards them, and not with them. You are still going to be
hiking in the summer, so you will have all of the summer traffic from day hikers,
weekend warriors, section hikers, etc. You will probably be hiking during the fall
as well, and i (and a lot of other people) like hiking in the fall a lot more than
in the summer. You still are going to be sharing the trail with a lot of people, no
matter when you start. If you want a greater opportunity for solitude from other
_thru-hikers_, then a southbound hike will probably provide this. If you want a
greater opportunity for solitude from other _hikers_... well, it's all relative i
guess. Remember... you don't have to hike in a group. You don't have to stay in a
crowded shelter. You create your hike while you are out there.

Well, i hope this helps a little bit. Figure out exactly what type of solitude you
will be looking for, figure out how important that issue is in the grand scheme of
your hike, and do a little mental cost-benefit analysis with the pros/cons of a
southbound vs. northbound hike. I think this will help you arrive at the best

Walk with light,


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