OK, It’s Been Awhile; Starting the Final Section

Since this is my first post of the year, I think it best to give a brief review of my hike thus far.  I started my flip-flop thru-hike in March of 2016 at Marion, VA.  When I got to Harpers Ferry, I took the train home to visit the wife and dogs.  I was home for two nights, slipped on the stairs, and tore my rotator cuff.  Yes, folks, going home can be dangerous.  Surgery, four months rehab, and I went back to Marion and walked south to Springer in the fall.

Last year, while I intended to finish, my daughter and her husband announced that our second grandchild was due in late July.  I finished my taxes and headed back to Harpers Ferry and headed north.  Two and a half months later, I pulled into Hanover dinged up enough that I needed to take a week off.  With my grandchild’s birth looming, I came home.

When I retired, I volunteered to serve as nanny for my then theoretical grandkids.  My daughter and her husband moved to Greensboro in anticipation of this.  I watched the first until I started this hike in 2016; I took care of the second this year.  He’ll be able to start pre-K in the fall.

If there’s a lesson to be learned in all of that it’s that you can plan all you want, but you’re unlikely to get the hike you planned.  Your planning helps you pull off the hike you actually get.  Injuries happen… real life happens… deal with it and go on.

“A waist is a terrible thing to mind”- Dan Quayle

When I left the trail last July, I weighed 206.  I had a physical just after I got back.  My resting heart rate was 55. Blood pressure was fantastic. Cholesterol was low and for the first time in my life my HDL/total cholesterol ratio was good.  Only takes walking ten hours a day.  After a messy breakup with Ben and Jerry in March, I had regained all the weight I had lost. On the trail, you can eat anything you want.  When I returned to the real world, I felt like I’ve had every bit of glycogen squeezed from my cells and my body screamed to replace it.  Trail shape is incredible and I’d like to learn to stay closer to it in the future.  My two worlds have different rules.  On the trail, I can eat anything I want and still lose weight; at home, I can’t.

Making bold fashion statements with my trail beard.

The Plan

While I was hiking to Springer, my wife got a job she loves in Maine.  I had to stay in North Carolina to help with child care.  Before I return to the trail this year, I have to move to Maine to join her.  Toward the end of July, I will go back to Hanover and walk to Lincoln, NH.  Then I’ll come back to North Carolina to watch my grandsons for a week while their mom endures her beginning of school meetings and we all wait for preschool to open.

I’ve booked spots in the AMC huts through the Whites.  I’ll put the gear I won’t need in a bounce box and ship it north.  The huts will provide two meals a day.  I’m a geezer and the elevation profile through the Whites looks scary.  Reducing my pack weight through this section just seems a smart way to go.  I’ll pick up my gear in Gorham and finish up.  I will probably be right up against Mount Katahdin’s closing date.  If things look dicey, I’ll bounce up to Baxter, summit, and head south.

When you spend 25 percent of your life on the trail for a couple of years, it’s hard to give it up.  I know I’m hiker trash for life.  Baring injury, I’ll finish the AT this year.  I sometimes feel like I’m split between two worlds. There’s home with family and the trail.  My current plan is to do two sections a year; one in the spring, the other in the fall.  I’ll do this as long as I am able.

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Comments 4

  • Avatar
    John aka "Grunt" : Jul 12th

    Nice story brother… I’ve been sectioning for 12 years and had to come off the trail in PA last year and have a 4-way bypass. Never had any inclining… good shape for 66 but the AT saved my life by letting me know I had a problem. Heading back to PA in Oct. to finish that state and if things go well I fantasize about starting a southbound LASH next August to finish Maine to NJ… everything else I’ve completed. I too and helping raise three grandboys and leaving is always stressful and would be more so to do a big hump… but you got to know your own body and I’m running out of time and energy and will never finish at my current pace…. we’ll see… hope you make it dude.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      George Turner (Old Growth) : Jul 12th

      You can do it. I find that long sections is the way to go. I met a couple of our peers in Virginia who were going out a week a year. They never really to just rip the bandaid off and get to the place where it’s normal to hoist pack and walk 10 hours. My family has a WhatsApp string that we’ve kept going for years. My son lives in Berlin so that’s our best option. We do FaceTime calls when I’m in a town. I love your southbound plan. By the time you get to Vermud, the bugs will be a lot better. A word of warning… I thought after Rocksylvania, the trail would improve. While there are some easy stretches, it’s still rough going most of the time.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Ruth morley : Jul 13th

    Great post! At 65 and a grandmother, I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. Gotta watch out for the deceptive comforts of home! My husband has run marathons, done tris, climbed Kilimanjaro, and completely severed his Achilles on the basement steps. Healed and continued on his adventures.

    It’s always encouraging to hear of others who have evolved from a thru hiker to a LASHER. The whole point is the time on the trail, not a specific timeframe.

    Your post gives me encouragement and hope, as I work through an injury at home. The backpack awaits.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      George Turner (Old Growth) : Jul 13th

      Take time to recover, do your rehab, take the time to get your pack weight as as possible…On the trail, decide how long you want to walk, rather than how far. You can completely control how long you walk; how far you get depends on things you can’t control. I’m 67. You’re going find our age group is pretty well represented out there

      Reply

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