I Revised My Start Date to June 1, 2021
I gave in to reality.
Plan A, as you may recall, was to thru-hike in 2020. Surgeries and pandemic took care of that.
Plan B was to start March 1, 2021. I dutifully registered my start date with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Formalizing the registration made me realize even more how unrealistic a start date it was.
Today I canceled my registration and submitted at new registration for June 1.
Why Plan C?
My chief reason for pushing back my start date is the pandemic. The next few months are going to be ugly. We are all weary of the precautions and restrictions. Folks are letting down their guard. New York State is doing better than most but we’re still getting hit hard.
I am not an experienced (or young!) enough long-distance hiker to do a largely self-supported thru-hike, which is what would be required for a March start. By June I stand a chance of a somewhat more normal thru-hike, at least one where I will not have to be worried about putting town people at risk. I can deal with limitations on the trail as long as I can safely get into town to resupply.
I will still get to celebrate my seventy-first birthday on the trail. Yay, me!
I know I won’t be able to finish my thru-hike in 2021. I’ll see how far north I can get before the weather forces my out of the mountains. I’ll pick up from there in 2022.
The Mind Game
Closely related to the pandemic is the mind game. Every thru-hiker I talk to tells me that anyone in reasonably good shape can thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. One has to recognize one’s own limitations and be sensible about the pace, especially at the beginning. Dora said, “No one is in shape for the trail. The trail gets you in shape for the trail.” Barring injury and sickness, thru-hikes are won and lost in the head.
With all the uncertainty of the pandemic and of my own “real life” this past six months, there is no way I am going to have my head into this by the beginning of March. Physically I could do it. Of that I have no doubt. Mentally? No, I don’t think so. Not yet. I need time to pull myself together.
I could feel the tie loosening as I admitted to myself that I needed to delay by three months.
What a gorgeous day. It was just about freezing with bright sun and a gentle breeze. Days don’t come much prettier than this. And places don’t come much prettier than Durand Eastman Park in Rochester. I put on my pack, walked out the front door, and half a mile later was in the park. I walked about four miles, a mile of road walk and three miles up, down and around in the park. (Don’t let anyone tell you that New York State is ugly.)
My long, skinny fingers have always had lousy circulation. I start wearing gloves long before other folks, and by time they are reaching for warm gloves I’m in mittens. I don’t mind the cold but I do mind cold hands. I wore a pair of Thinsulite-insulated mittens with my REI waterproof shells. I will soon have to pull out the leather shells. At any rate, today I was warm and comfy.
The cameras stayed in the hip belt pouches today. Here is a simple cellphone picture from the same park a week ago on a similarly beautiful day.
Steve / pearwood
Soli Deo Gloria
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