It’s a New Year.

Hi friends,

My name is Cole and I’m new to the world of thru-hiking.  Over the past few months, though, I’ve realized there are many aspiring hikers looking to join this community of outdoor enthusiasts; I’ve felt really welcomed from the first moments of gear research and advice-seeking.  Again, these times speak to what I’m looking forward to experience first-hand: a transformative experience that draws on the strength of community and support from, at least initially, strangers along the way.  Over the course of my blog entries, I hope to put into words these moments, the ups, the downs, and the switchbacks to contribute what I can and continue to seek advice.

And I’ve sought out tons already by virtue of my starting date.  For nearly a year, I’ve progressively toyed with, firmed up as an option, and committed to a thru-hike.  The opening for me was the beginning of 2016… the exact first day.  I’ll be setting out from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to walk 2,187 miles over the course of five or six months to Mount Katahdin, Maine (a northbound, or NOBO, hike) starting on New Years Day.  

As for my trail name, which seems to be a common identity marker for thru-hikers no any trail, I’ve cycled through many.  I began with an homage to my home state and 13th state on the NOBO trek, New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die” was an early contender.  Despite the patriotism, I later felt the word “die” didn’t really jive with my plans during or after the hike and moved on to lighter references.  I’m lucky to live with two cats who I adore; they bring the toy mouse to my door each morning and jump in front of my laptop’s camera during remote conferences (timed just when I’m the focus of the meeting).  Enter “Fancy Feast,” “Baxter,” “Meow Mix” and later “Fresh Step,” to which a friend called me out for wanting to be a “cat’s bathroom.”  I moved to interactive names, of which “Duck Trails … wahOOoo (sing the last part)” was a popular one – I have to say I liked that one a lot.  Yet it’s up for grabs.  

I’ve settled on a simple description to which I can continually draw back to, not just on January 1st, but daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, during this journey and in the best years to come ahead of me.  

Hi.  I’m “New Year.”  It’s nice to meet you.  Please, any advice for my January 1st start?

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Comments 11

  • Avatar
    Bob Rogers : Dec 7th

    Advice; stay warm. I doubt you’re going to see many fellow hikers. Maybe some locals or weekenders on mild days. Ballsy to say the least. I’ve never camped for days in the snow so you’re on your own there. Maybe a GPS for the early stages. With the trail covered in snow, it may disappear entirely in sections.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Cole Farnum : Dec 7th

      Bob,

      Thanks for the encouragement – you’re spot on: I’m carrying a GPS and have redundancies built into my navigation (as well as in cooking, clothing, sleeping, etc. Safety is worth the weight.) Winter may be the one time I’d rather have blazes in a color other than white!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    George Turner : Dec 7th

    I’m starting in Marion, VA on March 20th. You will be breaking trail for me! Snow is not cold it is slippery as hell, but you live in New Hampshire and Georgia will seen down right balmy.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Cole Farnum : Dec 7th

      George,

      Looks like we’ll be crossing paths at some point! Good point about being slippery: microSpikes are pretty amazing supports and they, too, can be slip on certain surfaces. My full time job will include monitoring foot placement, for sure. I’ve been monitoring the weather and it’s around the same at elevation in the South as it is here at sea-level. A nice training environment it’s been.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Julie Lemons : Dec 7th

    Just as an example of the Smokies in the spring let alone the winter. I piked up to thru hikes at Newfound Gap last year to give them a ride to Gatlinburg. It was April or May. They were French Canadians and saying how they had skimped on winter gear cause they were so used to the cold weather and it would be “warmer in the south” and defiantly regretted it. If you want some recent weather reports for the higher elevations of the Great Smokies National Park. Check out http://www.highonleconte.com the winter caretaker at Mt LeConte post daily weather it will give you some idea how it is so far.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Cole : Dec 8th

      Julie,

      I’ve been looking for a site like this for a couple weeks! Thank you – at times, it feels like I’m preparing for the Smokies over any other part of the trail and have upgraded my gear, pace and nutrition plan to ready myself for the 5-6 days I plan to spend moving through there in late-January. I’ll reach out with any questions as you seem the expert!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kieley : Dec 8th

    Cole! I saw you posted this on Facebook!! THIS IS SO AWESOME OF YOU!! congrats for biting the bullet and best of luck! I will def be bookmarking your blog to hear about your adventure!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Cole : Dec 8th

      Hi friend! Warm thoughts of the RGV will be in my mind for sure!

      Reply

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