There are four types of hikers:
1. Thru Hikers- These are the people that start in Maine and walk south or start in Georgia and walk north. They do the entire trail from one end to the other at one time usually taking 5-6 months. The mid-point is in PA, but the psychological mid-point is the little town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the AT Headquarters are housed. When you go through there, they take your picture and you sign their book for history’s sake.
2. Section Hikers - These are the hikers that do the trail in sections, and this is what my husband did. You hike as far as you can during the time you have and them come back and do another section and another section until you FINALLY complete the entire trail. You don’t have to follow any order...you just hike from Point A to Point B, record it in your journal, and keep doing that over and over again.
3. Yellow Blaze Hikers - These are the people who thru hike or section hike, but from time to time hitch a ride and skip certain sections of the trail. They make better time than folks like my husband.
4. Pleasure Hikers - These are folk like me that just love to go up on the trail for short little hikes to enjoy the sights and the sounds of being out in the middle of nowhere. Some people stay a night or two while others do simple day hikes.
My husband was a section hiker who started hiking here in VA in 1992. After completing our state, he did all the sections in NC and GA, and once those were finished he started north getting from home to his hiking point by car, bus, plane, or paying drivers to pick him up, drop him off, pick him back up, and then get him wherever he needed to go to hook up with his return transportation back to VA. He NEVER yellow blazed one single mile of the trail. He walked each and every mile of it from beginning to end, and here is the photo that was taken by a fellow hiker when the summited Mount Katahdin on August 5, 2002...quite the prized possession, to say the least.
Why is the Appalachian Trail to be considered a blessing? What more of a blessing could I ask for than to have my husband complete such an awesome undertaking with so much happiness and pleasure. When he’s happy, he makes me happy. I could never do it, but I pretended all the time he was out there that I was hiking, too. To see him so happy and so proud was wonderful. Yes, the Appalachian Trail was and is definitely a blessing for him and for me...and if you get the chance to "take a walk on the wild side", be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. It is out of this world and there is nothing else exactly like it anywhere in the United States.