The Longest Step

I set out on cold, foggy morning

I set out on cold, foggy morning

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.

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Final farewells with my grandson

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.

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Why Marion?

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.

What’s next?

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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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Macha : Mar 21st

    George, have been following your plans and glad to see you are on the trail. Best wishes for a great hike.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    David Maltby : Mar 23rd

    Happy Trails. I have been section hiking around Hot Springs this week and it was anything but hot. We had snow in the upper elevations. Hope Virginia this time of year is at the right temperature for you. We hiked with a super nice 53yo Vermont fellow who goes by “Ghost”, he is known for getting up at 3AM and slipping out onto the trail like a ghost. He might catch up to you if you stick to 1 shelter a day for too long. All the best.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Carl williams : Mar 23rd

    Great reading about your start on the trail. I look forward to seeing and hearing of your adventures …

    When your in the Borthern VA area call if you need anything …

    Carl

    Reply

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