It started with a kiss, who’d have thought it would come to this?

The Big Decision

So…I want to walk the Appalachian Trail.  Here I am, currently at sea in the Mediterranean, on a private owned super-yacht.  Sun, sea and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and I want to trade all of this in for a tent in the wilderness.  It has only just dawned on me that this is something I really want to do.  Why?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  Am I trying to prove something to myself or to others?  Who knows.  What I know now is that the seed is planted and that tree is growing quickly.

Background

I first heard about the Appalachian Trail whilst I was working in a shipyard in Belfast, Maine last year.  I was at in my local watering hole and started to speak to a lovely lady called Wendy.  Mentioning my hobbies and interests, Wendy suggested I should do it.  I’ve never been a one to turn down a challenge and Wendy thankfully set those wheels in motion.  After searching for a while for the “Abolition Trail” (ignorant Limey! I thought it was to do with slavery), I found what I was looking for.  WOW!!

The Journey So Far

How did i get from having a beer in a bar in Maine, to sitting on a boat in the Mediterranean, to planning my through hike?  Last December I was finished from my job due to blah blah blah…. and wen’t back to my home town of Newcastle, England.  I spent 6 months there with friends and family (the longest I’ve spent there since leaving home for the military at 16 yo) before I took the job as Chief Engineer onboard another yacht and here I am now, at sea.  Then it came to me one day (Thursday 06 September 17 to be exact) that I’m going to walk the Appalachian Trail.  That pipe dream became a reality.

I initially wanted to do the SOBO hike however finishing in Maine will allow me to spend some time after the hike with friends before the job hunt starts again and get back into the rat race.

So at the minute I am trying to gather as much information as possible.  Trailing websites, forums and social media sites as much as I can or as much as or satellite internet permits.  I’ve done enough walking/camping to know It is achievable, it is the other logistics of a big solo expedition I need to sort out.  How do I get there? Planes, trains and automobiles.  Permits.  What pace am I going to go at?  Rest days or no rest days?  Tent or Bivi?  The list goes on.

Doubts

There are numerous apprehensions about undertaking such a big commitment.  Money being one of them.  Walking away from a decent job when you have mortgages and dependants is no easy task.  Careful planning is required for this alone.  Then there are the horror stories (I’ve seen the movie Deliveracne).  Reassuring friends and family that seemingly need more reassurance than me.  The constant questions and remarks “are you mad?” “Thats a long way!” “Why?” “Aren’t you afraid of Bears?” ……Wait a minute!, no one mentioned anything about bears!  I’ve never come face to face with one therefore I’ve never felt the need to be scared of them, until now.  As it turns out, from lots and lots of reading, it’s not the bears I am most worried about.  The mosquitos and black flies will be my nemesis.  Ever since a bad experience when I lived in Turkey, if anything buzzes around my head I turn into some uncoordinated Hong Kong Phooey.  I also have the added bonus of being O+ blood group which they adore.  I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

So, for now it’s, back to planning.

 

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Comments 9

  • Avatar
    Matt : Sep 12th

    Just do your research and you will have a blast. There are several thru hikers you can follow on YouTube that may give you some insight as well.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Spuggy : Sep 12th

      Thanks Matt, i’ll check out youtube when internet allows.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    stealthblew : Sep 12th

    A good read for preparing for this trip would be one of Ray Jardine’s books. Trail Life is his latest version.

    good luck!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Spuggy : Sep 12th

      Thank you. I’ll have a look on kindle. I’m currently at sea so hopefully i’ll find a soft copy on there.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      Ruth morley : Sep 12th

      I also give two thumbs up to Ray Jardine’s book and website at rayjardine.con. In fact, I completed 1/4 of the AT this year using gear I made from Jardine’s kits: a tarp, a insect netting tent (suspended under tarp), 3 different weights of sleeping quilts and 3 different sizes of ultralight backpacks. I encourage you to check him out.

      But, as he says, think for yourself. Everyone has different needs and desires.

      It’s good you are a rock climber. The AT is so much more than a walk in the woods. It has some real challenges out there. Packing light, planning, training beforehand and hiking low mileage the first few weeks are key.

      But it’s addictive! I’ll be back next spring to continue. And I hope to see you on the trail.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lindsey Fitz : Sep 12th

    The AppalachianTrail.org site gives you so much info and an interactive map, which I’m sure you’ve seen. Add in the shelters and where you want to stop & planning is a breeze. Amazon also has a ton of maps for cheap! I’m starting my first portion September 29th in VA. As much as I want to do a thru hike, that adventure will have to wait. For now, section by section is how I’m going. Best of luck and keep us updated! Ps- All you have to do to keep bears at bay is be extra careful with your food! Bear bags or canisters (plus bear spray!).
    Journey On,
    Lindsey

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Ruth morley : Sep 12th

      It’s actually fun to see bears, as long as your food’s not involved. I saw 13 within a few weeks in the Shenandoah Natinal Park. They quickly ran away.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Spuggy : Sep 13th

        Thanks Ruth, I will be checking out Ray Jardine. Everything I take will be with me for the full trip (including some clothes for my stay in Belfast Maine when I finish). Any tips I can get from ray Jardine or previous through hikers is all taken onboard. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

        Reply
    • Avatar
      Spuggy : Sep 13th

      Thanks Lindsey. I can’t wait to do the hike. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and pushing myself. For some reason it just seemed the right time in my life to do this. Most people go on holiday to lie on a beach and recharge. I chose this, although I’m not sure how recharged I’ll be at the end 🙂 Best of luck with your sections. The only problem I’d find doing that is you know what is coming when you do the through hike. I used to do a 42 mile road race each year in Cumbria in the UK. I got my best time in the first year as I never knew what was around the next corner. It’s a big mental game as well as physical.

      Reply

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