“Southbounders are weird”
Last November, after finishing 3 months of rigorous rehab after a knee replacement and then 3 months of some extensive “self testing” with trail weight on trails, thousands of stairs, and hrs on a treadmill set at max grade, gave myself the green light for an AT through hike attempt in 22. One of the first calls I made was to “Sonny.” We hadn’t spoken in years but as is the case with buddies and teammates (essentially family) who had been through a year of major “adversity” together, picked up a conversation as if we had spoken the day before.
One of the things we talked about at length was the AT (He successfully hiked northbound a few years ago). I followed his trek, was so impressed not just about his accomplishment, but also his brutal honesty (about how he was or wasn’t prepared and how he handled various adversaries). “Sonny’s” posts were engaging, entertaining, and sometimes down right damn funny. I respect someone who can laugh at themselves. I expected no less. We talked primarily about gear and then some perceptions I had about specific stretches and points along the trail.
Finally Sonny asked “Hey, when are you starting from Springer Dude?” I replied first week of June starting in Maine, doing a SOBO. Sonny says “Southbounders are weird!” I asked why. He replied jokingly with the same 3 words, “Southbounders are weird.” Then he wouldn’t elaborate on it. I didn’t think anymore about it and then Sonny offered to meet me on Springer when finished (hopefully early November)….cool beans, that will be awesome.
Sitting here waiting impatiently to depart,though the travel plan up is now a bit sketchy (Thanks for the curveball Amtrak). Other than reading other hiker’s blogs (jelly not out there yet. but that was a personal choice), probably am thinking about some things that usually I wouldn’t devote brain cells to. So today it’s this NOBO/SOBO thing.
I guess the question is it indeed a thing? Is it related to perceptions/misperceptions of those “other hikers? Is it something people actually bring on themselves? I have no idea. Frankly, have always been interested with going “contrary” on the AT. Primarily to avoid the northern bubble but have to admit, intrigued with the @10% that try it SOBO. Maybe my brain is backwards, but like the idea of having Katahdin and the 100 Mile Wilderness in the rearview mirror. Have trekked through the Whites in NH numerous times and relish the thought of trekking through them in July. Then there’s the psychological aspect of travelling south towards home. Home for Thanksgiving with family and eating to put some meat back on the already skinny frame, gorging until ya fall to sleep (My much better half, K1, keeps using that word “emaciated” whenever I bring up potential weight loss on a through hike, lol). Most practical is the “tactical” aspect. Walking into hikers coming from where you are going, get the latest gouge on water crossings, campsites, cool or uncool things, trail magic, town stops, weirdos, etc. That helped immensly last time section hiking on the PCT.
Flip Flop on the Flip Flop
That all said, had actually convinced myself to do a Flip Flop, starting in Harper’s Ferry going south, then trans back to WVA to begin the northern leg to ME. But important family events popped up and don’t want to miss them. Could’ve started wherever, gotten off then later back on, but chose not to do that. So, the route was made up for me. Well see if things happen for a reason.
Yeah, I know will miss a lot of the trail magic, festivals, etc., the further south I(we?) go. Certainly drawbacks to starting in Maine in early June, I believe most know what they are. Cool thing is one of the May family events is in Colorado and will have time to walk with my loaded pack in the Rockies, true test, final op shakeout.
Are southbounders weird? I guess I’ll find out. The other day, while talking on the phone with an amigo, out of the blue he says “Dude, you’re f…..g weird.” K1 often refers to me as NQR….Not Quite Right…..hahaha. Am truly looking forward to the humorous tales and “witty banter” while on the trail. Peace out to all through hikers, no matter which way you do it. You’re doing it!
Sonny, luv ya Bro
Shout out to my friends at The Teressa Rosiland French Foundation
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What a beautiful organization to represent while hiking.
I realize you meant it as comical, but listing your possible conveyances to Maine( or conversely to Ga) might hurt some feelings. The towns, or lack thereof at the ends of the AT did not ask to be departure and finish zones. People live and work in these places and deal with life as it is there. Some hikers act like the trail is their own personal property….complain about boys scouts and day hikers. I figure that those are also the people who pay the taxes to fund the parks, and the inspiration for a new generation of thru hikers. It is there for us all….no matter how urban, remote, country or comfy the entry, exit and path through are.
I think there is much love and appreciation for hikers in the towns along the way. We are happy that people are enjoying the natural resources of our regions, our home towns.
Excited to follow your journey. Especially with the hip rehab in the past.
SOBO is the best way to go! I cannot imagine hiking with the heat and humidity and bugs that the NOBOs get. Also you’ll start camping with NOBOS and Flip floppers who have that long hiking glow and that successful attitude. It’s such a positive vibe to be around! Another huge benefit is that you’ll hike the 100 mile wilderness without hiker hunger. Though they finish it in half the time sobos finsh, but they have to carry 3x the food we do. We also have a great mentor on the facebook sobo page. Lok forward to reading your blog. Enjoy!
You amaze us! Can’t wait to follow your journey and even more excited to hear your stories in person!! Safe travels!! Much love!
Loved getting your first update, even pre-trek. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures! On a side note, “NQR” has been a code in my family for decades – love that someone else uses it too!
I will follow you. I like weirdos. Good luck.
I think I ascertained early on that you are a bit of a weirdo so no shocker there. I know you will make the most of this and touch people (in a good, not creep way) along your journey! (BTW, Hans & I want to do the Camino too – when he “retire-retires”.)