How Lying About Wanting to Hike the AT Turned into a Thru Hike Attempt

It Started with a Lie

Six years ago I found myself socializing with some colleagues crowded into a little office after work. We did this every Tuesday, so to keep the conversation fresh someone would ask a question and we would take turns giving our answers. This particular week, the question was what is something big on your bucket list. I don’t remember anyone else’s answers, as I panicked trying to think of something cool to say. When it got to me, I blurted out that I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Social anxiety crisis averted. At the time, this answer was BS. I had never really thought about it before and had no intention of actually hiking the AT. Little did I know that a few years later this little lie would become an obsession.

Growing the Dream

Although I was not serious about hiking the AT at the time, I was craving some sort of adventure. Initially, I was interested in overlanding. I drew inspiration from my aunt and uncle, who have taken year-long overland trips through Africa and South America. I dove down the research rabbit hole and almost bought a small camper trailer, but then the pandemic hit and prices for campers skyrocketed. Then the algorithms started showing me backpacking content and the AT seed I had planted a few years prior started to sprout. I consumed as many YouTube videos and articles as I could find. I started buying gear, walking every day to get in shape, and making plans to hike in 2022. But for reasons I will explain in my next post, I had to delay the hike until this year.

The Plan

I will be attempting a flip flop thru hike. I will start northbound from Front Royal, VA, in May and hike to Maine. After completing the northern section, I will come back to Front Royal and hike south to Georgia. I lived in Maryland when I originally decided on this plan, but I moved closer to the southern terminus a little over a year ago. I was considering a traditional NOBO hike, but ultimately I decided to stick with the flip flop for several reasons:

  • The weather should be milder throughout the hike.
  • The elevation gain and loss will be lower to start.
  • I will have a lot of support from my Maryland friends nearby if something goes wrong early in the hike.
  • I will be walking home to finish the hike.

Why am I starting in Front Royal when Harpers Ferry is only 50ish trail miles further north? I section hiked part of the AT in Shenandoah in 2022, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I am hoping that starting this hike where that one ended will be a mental boon to continue the good times from 2022. Starting in Front Royal will also give me a few mental benefits when I make the flip to finish the trail southbound. Shenandoah National Park is one of my favorite places in the US, and I will be excited to hike it immediately after the flip. Shenandoah will be a great place for family and friends to join for a section in the late summer or early fall after my break. And finally, I will have less than 1,000 miles to go when I start south.

Let’s Go!

I am excited that the time is nearly here to begin this journey of a lifetime. I don’t know what my blogging pace will be, but I will try to share as much as I can with some regularity. To those who have helped get me to this point, thank you. To those I will meet along the way, see you soon. And to those who will follow along, welcome.

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Comments 4

  • Laurie : Apr 27th

    Exactly the flip flop I want to do. Good luck. Looking forward to following along

  • Black eyed Susan : Apr 28th

    You’re sharing my story. From Maryland. Starting a flip flop hopefully May from Front Royal. My favorite hikes were in Shenandoah and do Maryland AT as often as possible. Social anxiety. Yep! Have great journey. Pulling for you. Will catch your Trek as you post them Thanks!

  • Marc NL : May 4th

    Great adventure Luke. Happy you will share it here, so your European family can follow as well. Take care! Alles Gute!

  • Larry : May 7th

    Good luck Luke. I look forward to seeing your updates.


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