NOBO or Bust? Barefoot Weighs His Options

I have gotten back on the Appalachian Trail after the tumultuous trials of broken toes, fallen heroes and July 4th shenanigans. I headed back into the Shenandoah National Park and nailed several 20+ mile days but am being told reaching 900 is too far, too late to mount Katahdin at a decent time. Most of the current crowd, read: very few, and remaining thru-hikers have all expressed they either intend to party until they can’t, or Flip-flop as SOBOs.

I’m still not on a time constraint, but severe weather is a concern. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but these are the thoughts weighing on my mind. I feel very sore, nothing especially new and, with my toes tightly wrapped, I have only hit a few places where I’ve stopped and had to rest until the pain subsided. It’s been unnecessarily hot lately, but as long as I dig deep I feel this is still all going well. The Whites are unprecedented for me, I will especially be paying attention to the cold with new gear, fleece and zero degree sleeping bag unlike my April start. The seasons are fast approaching and I’ll need to decide which end of them I want to be on.

I’d love to hear views from those sharing in my adventure or with past experiences of crossing the halfway point late in July. Be sure to comment.

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Comments 5

  • Saruman : Jul 10th

    I’m in a similar position – about 15 miles into Shenandoah National Park heading north. Been thinking about which way to finish for a while. Right now I’m pretty sure I’ll flip up to Maine and head south early in August. Two reasons:
    I want to finish the trail this year, so risking Baxter closing is making me nervous;
    I think I’ll enjoy the north end of the trail if I’m not rushing through because it’s too cold/snow covered. I figure heading north for a few more weeks once back on trail (I’ve been off for a week taking care of a friend) will get me in a decent position to still have good weather once I get up there.

  • Christine Anderson : Jul 12th

    Flip up to New Hampshire, hike to Katahdin, and then hike south from NH back to Harpers Ferry. Why? Late July and August is usually a great time to be in NH/Maine and it takes a lot of time pressure off of you. Plus – you escape the worst of the heat!

  • ShatterProof : Jul 12th

    I went through Harper’s on August 3rd last year and still made it. Forget the naysayers. Best advice I can give is this- keep trucking north. You will gain speed in Jersey, NY, ct, ma. If you’re not through the whites by September 15th then consider flipping up from where you are at that time. In my opinion, too many people flip up at the advice of Harper’s ATC or non hikers alike.

    Limit your zeros and turn on the afterburner.


  • richard morriss : Jul 12th

    Flip it. I did a three way flip and loved it, You get a taste of NOBO and SOBO. You will meet a whole other group of thru hikers if company is what you seek. HYOH.

  • George : Jul 12th

    Take the train from Harpers Ferry to White River Junction (very close to Hanover, NH. It isn’t just bad weather; they close Katahdin about the middle of October. Why risk it?


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