Returning to Trail in 2024!
Optimist Prime Here!
After a long hiatus, I am back with big news! The dream of the Triple Crown continues with the Appalachian Trail in 2024. After a year break from thru-hiking, the decision was easy to hop back onto trail to enjoy another season living as hiker trash. It was definitely known to me that the AT would be next on my list. The moment I had stepped off the PCT it was pretty clear that it was going to happen.
A Magical 2023
Instead of thru-hiking in 2023, I decided to help the PCT hikers make it to Canada after an intense winter in the Sierra made it nearly impossible to make it through. My entire spring and summer was spent giving back to the community I have called family for so many years. From Tehachapi all the way to Cascade Locks, I spoiled hikers and truly realized how much this trail meant to me.
From trail head BBQs to wilderness raves, the 2023 season was one to remember. But now it’s time to focus on my own journey. The PCT has been my home for many seasons, it is time I take on the challenge of the AT. A trail and region I have never experienced in my life. While ever single inch of the PCT is known to me, the East Coast is not. This excites me.
My AT Start Date
My official start date is February 28th 2024. The hardest part of any thru-hike is always choosing a start date. There are always pros and cons for any start. Especially with how wet the AT can get, the worry is always starting too early. As of the moment I am writing this, January 31st, there are already dozens of hikers out on trail. Every year the early starts become more and more desirable. Personally the cold never truly bothers me, climbs are way more comfortable, and no matter when you start, it’s always going to be wet.
My PCT thru-hike start was March 5th, so dealing with the extra weather will be worth it, if it means avoiding heavy amounts of bugs and heat waves. I still think about the 100+ degree days climbing out of Cascade Locks in Washington. The experience the PCT gave me will help with the mental battle that will be frigid east coast mornings everyone tells me about. Especially considering the the BOA 3.5” cheese shorts will be making its long awaited return, my legs are ready for low temps.
Going in with a Plan
I am definitely not a planner, never really have been. Going in with a plan never seems to work out when thru-hiking. The moment you step onto trail everything goes out the window. The goal with this hike is to teach myself to plan better, keep myself on a schedule, and challenge my body. I am an experienced thru-hiker and it’s time to prove to myself that I am capable of anything life throws at me. There are lots of things I did on the PCT that will make me hike better.
The 100 day challenge is part of that plan. That’s a 22 mile day average, with limited zeros, and absolute focus. While 100 days does sound nice, I won’t be disappointed if I I don’t make it to Katahdin in that time. So anything between 100-120 days is fine by me, and I am confident that I’ll be able to do it. The optimism is truly alive. They don’t call me Optimist Prime for nothing.
With one more month until I head out onto trail, my gear is ready and everything is prepped for what should be an incredible adventure. I’ll be sharing my thoughts throughout the month as I finalize everything for whats to come. Follow along as I attempt to hike from Georgia to Maine, Springer to Katahdin, part 2 of my Triple Crown dream.
Every part of my journey will be shared on theTrek just like I did on the PCT, as well as on my Instagram, @roamwiththomas!
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