A section hiker is anyone out hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail; be it one hour or one month or anywhere in between. The typical section hiker though, is out for a three to seven day span and looking to hike under 100 miles. What is so good about most section hikers you ask?
First off, for no real reason, they put thru hikers up on a pedestal and we are almost revered and admired. That on its own doesn’t really matter to us but then you incorporate the second reason; they bring too much stuff and it is often food products! There have been several occasions of us coming into a shelter to find it occupied by a few or sometimes quite a few section hikers. They didn’t look at us as the smelly kids who are unfit to share a campground with (which we kinda are…). Rather, they often times inquisitively ask questions about our hike and experiences while we cook dinner on the picnic table or bench. The conversation normally turns to food and as a result of either kindness to their fellow man, or more likely pity, a statement could be made to the effect of “I’m only out here for two more days and I’m not going to eat all of these (granola bars, chocolate covered almonds or freeze dried meals) so would you guys like some?” Good tasting food that I didn’t have to carry here or pay for? That’s like asking Hunter if he wants smoked salmon chunks for dinner.
Section and day hikers are also the most likely to leave trash in a campsite instead of packing it out and take a dump behind the shelter and not bury it. Though despite the bad reputation they have out here, it is also section hikers who 9 times out of 10 offer to carry out the candy wrappers from the shelter or even offer to take your trash for you “because they are going to their car and you are going to Maine”. And you know what? I carried out a bag full of trash this morning left undoubtedly by a weekend hiker but tomorrow night we are eating two “gourmet” freeze dried meals that were gifted to us by another group of weekend hikers a few days ago!