The Pareto principle established the notion of the ’80/20 rule.’ As a thru-hiker on the AT, a specific observation one hears often is that when northbound (‘Nobo’) hikers reach the New Hampshire border, they have completed 80% of the distance of the AT, but only 20% of the effort. Assuming that had to be hyperbole, I repeatedly asked Nobos I met along the trail (especially in Maine as they were near the end of their hikes) whether they agreed with that statement or not. Surpringly, I never had a single hiker refute it. What that means to me (and to all Sobos) is that when we finish New Hampshire, we have completed approximately 80% of the effort of hiking the AT, though of course we still have 80% of the distance remaining. As I write this in the Emily Howe library in Hanover, New Hampshire- a literal stone’s throw from Dartmouth College- I am a mere 6/10ths of a mile from the Vermont border. I’ve completed all 442 miles of Maine and New Hampshire and I could not be more excited for what remains. It’d be wrong to say the trail will be ‘easy’ from here, but by all accounts it will be significiantly ‘easier.’
One way of measuring trail difficulty in different areas is to compare typical daily hiking mileage. Through Maine and most of New Hampshire my daily distance hovered between 10-15 miles. In the past 2 days I covered 44 miles on the AT and road walked 5 more miles for some sightseeing fun. South of New Hampshire, thru hikers routinely turn 20-25 mile days and seeing the terrain the past two days (see some of the photos below) I can see why- it is defintely getting easier.
The following pictures cover a period of 7-10 days from around the time we left Penny and Russ’ home in the White Mountains until this afternoon in Hanover. Incidentally, Hanover is the only town I’m aware of on the AT that I know I’ve visited as an adult. My daughter Emily and I came here to tour Dartmouth when she was choosing a college and we had a fantastic trip together. I had no idea at the time of Dartmouth’s relationship to the AT (the Dartmouth Outing Club maintains a large section of the AT in New Hampshire) or that the trail goes right through the campus and the main street of Hanover, but I had fond memories and was excited to see it again. My next entry will be from Vermont (or beyond!).