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Begins: Mar 20, 2012
Date: Tue, Feb 16th, 2010
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A little bit of terminology to get you on the way
In order for people to follow my trip and to get excited with me about my prep and my journey itself, I think I need to fill you in on a few facts, dish out some random information and terminology to help you out, especially if you are an AT newbie.
Hell, it's taken me a year already to research what I know, so let me give you a little head start.
I am to be a NOBO hiker. That being a northbound person.
Which also makes me GA>ME - that's Georgia to Maine.
As opposed to being a SOBO (that's right, southbound) and ME>GA (Maine to Georgia - see how easy this is - you can tell I'm a teacher, right?!).
I'd also like to be a thru hiker (not through, it's all in the spelling you see!) which means completing in one season instead of a section hiker (doing over a number of seasons in bits) or a flip flopper (walking from one end half way, going to the finish end and walking the other half back to the centre).
Most NOBO hikers depart March/April and finish Sept/Oct. There is a window for hiking - the final point on the trail is in Baxter State Park which closes around Oct 15th. Which basically means it would suck something chronic to have walked all that way and not be able to climb the last mountain and officially finish - so make sure you get there in time!
For SOBO's not such a big time thing.
The majority of people hike NOBO, the main reasons I can tell is hiking with the spring and into summer (good weather) and for the wow factor at the end, Mount Katahdin seems to be a more fitting end than Springer Mountain.
There is a philosophy on the trail - HYOH - Hike Your Own Hike.
Basically do things the way you want, when you want, how you want. Don't get caught up in following other peoples plans and ideas, do what you feel is right for you.
I like that. I pretty much feel that about life these days. Do want you want and to hell with what people think. It's your life.
So I will try and follow HYOH.
Other things people reference - trail angels and trail magic.
These are people or things that happen or turn up unexpectedly and are a godsend.
It might be a person giving you a lift into town after you've walked 20 miles and can't take another step, or cookies and coke left on a log just to spur you on when you most need it.
People doing good turns for others. Acts of kindness that we often forget these days and should always be thankful for.
And last but not least, I'd like to take the time to answer a few people's questions (these ones seem to come up quite a lot)....
Yes, I plan to WALK over 2,000 miles. No, there will be no other forms of transport to get me from one end of the country to the other, just my feet.
Yes, I shall be carrying everything I need in a pack on my back from start to finish (with the exception of obviously resupplying food, lets face facts people, 7 months of food just wouldn't fit in my pack in one go).
Yes I shall be hiking alone, though technically there will be many people starting and hiking at the same time, so I shall see people either during the day or at night.
No, I'm not crazy.
Unlike others on the trail, I am planning no food packages or bounce boxes (boxes with things I want that I can post ahead to myself further up the trail). The reason for this is I'm coming from the UK and feel it would be too much hassle and effort to plan for that. I shall be simply resupplying food and other needed items on route which just unfortunately might mean eating the same meal several weeks in a row. People who know me well enough with my pitta bread and pasta meals probably won't foresee this as an issue - I seem to have simple, reoccurring tastes.
My walk will take me approximately 7 months, my initial mileage planning has put me at 190 days.
I have calculated this using my AT companion guide (which shows miles between campsites, towns and heights of big ass mountains I shall be climbing), and combined it with the fact I'm a slow walker (I wouldn't even call myself a hiker to be honest).
No, I'm really not crazy.
Yes, I will be sleeping outside in a tent.
No, there aren't any real 'bathrooms' along the way and yes, that does mean digging a cathole in the ground to poop in and going without a shower for up to 5 days.
Yes, it is true there are both bears and snakes in the woods. There are also plenty of mice and other small critters including bugs that bite, who will try to and attack either me or my food bag.
And yes, even though I am a previous zookeeper and a teacher who handles animals regularly, I am absolutely terrified of coming across a wild bear or snake and dying in a horrible fashion.
No, I won't be carrying a gun.
No, my mother is not best pleased with my plan and would rather I stay at home.
Yes, she thinks I'm crazy....
Button's Grand Adventure
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
- David Henry Thoreau
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