Thursday, February 11, 2016

Several walks in the woods planned this year

It may be possible to live without naming and struggling to reach goals, but my roads have (almost) always had them. It keeps me moving!

Most of them have also had beginnings.

One of my goals this year is to begin -- but not to finish,that will wait for another year -- hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections.

I will start slow with a single overnight walk along a path that I have already traveled (albeit without a thirty-plus pounds of gear to, umm, improve my traction on the downhill slopes). I plan to finish the year with a three week stroll northbound over Mount Rogers in Tess's "mountain fastness".

Bill Bryson's story will not be mine. Aside from creek and cliff falls and unwelcome reunions with friends from my past, the idea of joining the hiker herd that races north from Springer Mountain every April to thru hike the AT from end to end in one year -- not my idea of fun. So, I do not plan to try for the respected "AT thru hiker" badge.

First, the necessary five to six months of continuous time on the trail is more than I can fit into this year's schedule. Second, I actually do respect the longer time needed for older bodies to recover from abuse -- so, pacing these departures from controlled behavior is important to me. Finally, as one of my  mentors says, the discipline and planning needed to average more than fifteen miles a day for over five months would take away the fun part of being outdoors -- and I don't want to tarnish my enjoyment of forests, rivers, and mountains.

I do plan stop and smell the flowers. Also, to admire the granite boulders.

All told, my four planned hikes will cross the three central States: the 41 miles in Maryland, all eight miles of West Virginia, and most of the 550 miles in Virginia.  The maps at show the general path -- Maryland/ West Virginia and Virginia.

All dates below will change; so, likely, will some of the locations.
  • Shakedown: Blackburn Trail Center to Ashby Gap, as soon as the snow melts.
  • Maryland Southbound: PenMar, PA to Blackburn TC, starting March 31.
  • Virginia Southbound: Ashby Gap to Booten's Gap, starting May 14.
  • Virginia Northbound: Damascus to McAfee Knob, starting September 5.

Next year? Too far away to think about right now.

I plan to post tales and photos here with as little delay as time and resources allow, but will be entirely off the grid for several days at a time. No worries! I'll be back before the first frost.

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