On the “Flop” Side: I’m a SOBO now

After about ten days off at home, I am back on the Trail with my sights set on Springer Mountain. Hopefully I don’t forget that I am a SOBO (southbound) now.

The first few days in West Virginia and Virginia have been a pleasant surprise. Switchbacks exist again (Maine doesn’t believe in those), and while there are still rocks in the trail, there are nice flat sections, too. It has been fairly warm, which I am not a fan of, but I am trying to drink plenty of water and hike during the coolest parts of the day.

So far there haven’t been too many views, but when there are, it is weird to find them dotted with civilization again. In Maine, all you can see is wilderness and lakes from the tops of the mountains. Now I am seeing farms, roads, and towns again, and hearing all of the accompanying sounds. Maine was quiet and peaceful. I guess I have to say that even though Maine was tough as all get out, it was one of my favorite states.

Next up is Shenandoah National Park, which I have been told is beautiful and not too difficult to hike through.

Unplanned Zero

I have been delayed a day, however, because my left leg was like: “Wait, we’re hiking another 1000 miles?! I thought we were done!”

Yesterday, about halfway through the day, my left leg started acting up. There was an ache from about the back of knee all the way up to my hip. So I took some Vitamin I (ibuprofen) and kept hiking. By the end of the day, I was having a meltdown because not only did my leg hurt, but my feet hurt as always, my right foot more because I was favoring my left leg, and I have chafing in several areas right now that felt like they were on fire. I limped into the hostel and spent the afternoon resting.

Now I am taking a zero day to give my leg a chance to rest and hopefully recover. It bugs me to have to take a zero when i only started back on the trail four days ago, but I can’t imagine trying to hike on this leg right now. I am blessed to have an uncle who is a doctor who advised me. My family doc also gave me his personal phone number so I could call him if I ever needed any help.

How to wear out hiking boots in 3 months or less…

Hike the northern half of the Appalachian Trail.

Originally, I had planned to wear a pair of Merrells that were already broken in and waiting for me to start the southern half of the Trail. However, I put them on a few days before leaving home and decided they were too tight for comfort. So, I ordered the exact same pair of Vasque boots that I wore on the northern half and had them sent to the first hostel I planned to stay at in the south. I am hoping for the best, because I have had no trouble will blisters so far. Truth be told, I was more worried about getting blisters from the snug pair of Merrells.

Same boots, new color, new miles.

I was really impressed with how well my Vasque boots held up! They survived Rocksylvania, the Whites, and Maine. There were no holes in them, just a few spots where the outer trim was peeling off. The tread was basically gone, which is to be expected after everything I put them through. I was a little worried that I might slip and die on Katahdin, but they didn’t fail me! I couldn’t bear to throw them away, so I even mailed them home…


If you could send some good thoughts, vibes, and prayers my way, that this leg issue clears up quickly, that would be wonderful! Thanks in advance!

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Comments 3

  • Ruth Morley : Aug 4th

    Congratulations, Vulture!! You’re the first flip flippers that I personally know of this year to be on the southern half.

    I started from HFerry on July 25, and am 5 days into the Shenandoah. I have seen 11 bears so far, all good encounters. ?

    I’m doing 12-14 miles a day or so. I fully expect to see you catch up and sail by anytime. I hope to see you!


  • Bob Hess : Aug 4th

    Praying that your ails get better. Hang in there and enjoy the Shenandoah.

  • stealthblew : Aug 4th

    Those heavy boots may be the cause of your leg ailments. Try some running shoes for a few weeks and see how you feel. Order them a size larger than normal and view them as comfy slippers. If extra protection is needed replace the inserts with something more comfortable. Once south of Waynesboro the overall character of the trail is less rocky than in the north. Boots will not be necessary. Good luck.


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