So I was all geared up (pun intended) to start at Springer in early April. However, flexibility is an important character trait both on and off trail, and when a string of work-related complications delayed me, I was quick to tick the SOBO box instead. After all, it wasn’t a matter of if I was going. It was only a matter of when.
2018 was a pretty tough year for me: I lost my father, my 14-year marriage ended, I moved, I sold a long-standing family business. Amidst all this, the AT experience emerged as this shiny thing I had to pursue. The planning and the pre-trail education has kept me going and given me purpose. I don’t know when it will feel real. Probably when I’m waist deep in mud in Vermont.
And perhaps I should’ve read this little tip from the ATC prior to my SOBO commitment: “A southbound thru-hike is extremely difficult unless you are in superior shape and health and have backpacking experience.”
Sure, I have almost zero backpacking experience. But I got the health thing going for me and I read all the books you’re supposed to read and acquired all the gear one might need. Seriously, though, I don’t pretend these preparations will be the things to propel me down the trail when the going gets tough. It is far more likely my brain will be pleading with my body to push forward when I’d rather be watching Netflix with my feet up.
But it seems to me (and maybe this is just confirmation bias) that the best place to receive a barefisted introduction to the Appalachian Trail is in Maine. If the weather cooperates and Baxter opens the trail, I’ll be summiting Katahdin on June 15. Then I begin the long march south—which was the direction I was meant to go all along.
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