The Longest Step
My wife gave her blessing for this trip 15 months ago. I’ve been in planning mode ever since, but no more. My planning days are over and now I’m walking. That first step feels like it took an eternity to pull off. Yesterday, after brunch at my daughter’s house, my wife drove me to Marion, Virginia and dropped me off at a motel. Saying goodbye to everyone was tough. It was a very emotional day.
This morning I took a cab out to the Mt. Rogers Headquarters and I walked to The Relax Inn at Rural Retreat. I stopped at Chatfield shelter to leave a note in the journal and to check for any recent entries. I was surprised to see a couple of recent notes and even ran into a couple of northbounders. My plan is to head north to Katahdin from here and then to come back to Marion to head south to Springer.
This was where I started my first AT section hike in 1996. I’ve done most of Virginia north of here. Starting at Marion let’s me get the old stuff out of the way first. It is also an odd enough place to start make it unlikely that I will have to deal with crowds. When I checked the ATC’s voluntary registration site, scads of people were planning to start at Springer on March 20th. I worried about the impact of so people squeezing into limited spots near shelters close to Springer. If there is literally no room at the inn, would I have the endurance/time to pursue other options? If my recollection of numbers quoted in other blogs is accurate, an average of over ten hikers a day is leaving Springer. Can the trail we love really handle this?
Why spend my first night sleeping in a bed?
Mt. Rogers Headquarters to the Relax Inn is 11 miles. Tomorrow I will walk 13 to the Chestnut Maul shelter. If I had stopped at Chatfield, I would have 17 miles the next day. I’m planning to keep it to a shelter a day at the beginning. I used the same plan last summer on my “proof of concept” shakedown hike. I’m only carrying four days of food; I mailed myself another four days at the Big Walker in Bland.
I’m thinking that I should be running into the Real Hiking Viking soon. Will I be a rabid fanboy or will I be able to keep my cool? Only time will tell. My wife will have a week off next week She’s going to meet me at the Woods Hole Hostel and let me slack pack for my birthday. A childhood friend lives in Blacksburg. I’m planning to take a zero there and catch up with him.
I would love to post more pictures but it is taking forever to upload them!
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