Why a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail? And what’s this flip-flop thing?

Zach Davis, in the book Appalachian Trials, suggests putting together three lists before beginning a thru-hike. This is intended to provide mental bedrock for the days when the feet are sore, the legs are tired, and the heart cries out for the company of family and friends (and canine companion)!

List #1 is entitled “I am thru-hiking the AT because…”

List #2: “When I successfully thru-hike the AT, I will…”

List #3: “If I give up on the AT, I will…”

I have developed my own lists, and will post them later. They’re great lists. The best…

As for flip-flopping, that’s a term used when a thru-hiker does not complete the trail sequentially, starting either in the south in Georgia and ending in Maine, or vice versa. Because the trail is become more and more heavily used, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is asking folks to consider non-traditional ways of approaching a thru-hike. My intention is to start at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and hike north to Maine, and “God-willing and the creek don’t rise”, summit Mt Katahdin sometime in August. Then I intend to get transportation back to Harper’s Ferry and hike south, ending on Springer Mountain mid-fall.

There are risks inherent in this approach, not the least of which is the time off-trail flipping back to flop; a perfect time to re-evaluate and allow the physical/mental fatigue to convince me I’ve done enough. Think of it as the end of act one: the protagonist makes a decision that throws everything that came before into disarray. “Flip-flop: the Stage Play”.

Update 11/20/2022

Well, the vision to thru-hike in 2017 was sadly interrupted after a fall on the way up to the Presidential range in NH left me with a dislocated finger. I had completed one/third of the trail at that point. Then Life did it’s thing of getting complicated; we moved house and I resumed my career as a User Experience professional.

Now, five years later, I have retired, and am planning an open ended SLASH (Super Long Ass Section Hike) in Spring of 2023. The time and opportunity to accomplish a thru-hike has passed, but I left a part of me on the trail that I hope to recover and integrate in through taking the trail on in smaller bites.

I intend to complete the trail over the next years, while I still can. Will I? Who can say…

Since wordpress displays posts in reverse chronology, here’s a handy link to bring you to the first entry.

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Update – 11/20/2022

Five-ish years after coming off the trail in August of 2017, I am planning on a return to the Appalachian Trail. Starting in Spring of 2023, I am hoping to return to Harper’s Ferry and start hiking southbound. I may be posting some preparation BLOGs prior, but I certainly will be journaling the adventure when back on trail.

I’ll be turning 58 a few weeks before I hit the trail. I’m a native of the Boston area, still living in the general area. I’m the father of three boys, all grown up now. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 34 years. We currently live with 2 cats and a dog.

I’ve been working in the Information Technology industry for 30+ years, first as a mainframe (remember those?) programmer, then moving into the then new Personal Computer space, and then into what is now called User Experience (UX). I’ve had many titles: Systems Analyst, Usability Specialist, User Interface (UI) Architect, Information Architect, UI Designer, Human Factors Specialist, UX Specialist…

I’m a musician, as well. I’ve recorded two albums, one of mostly original songs, the other of mostly original instrumentals. I have a degree in Fine Arts, specializing in painting, but love photography as well.

Some where along the line, I got it into my head to section hike the 200 miles of the Bay Circuit Trail, finishing up at the northern end in Newbury, MA (see the photo above), in June of 2015, shooting many photographs along the way… and since I’ve been hiking the local trails with my faithful trail companion, Ernie the potcake! Unfortunately, Ernie’s not much of a traveler, so won’t be accompanying me on my thru-hike.