Logistics Update

Some things came together on Wednesday December 14th.  It was the presale day for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary tour tickets for legacy members of TomPetty.com.  What that meant in this household was jumping on the computer and being ready to order tickets the moment they went on sale to get the best seats possible.  We did not go for any of the special packages as they were way too expensive, and besides, I do not like floor seats.  I am too short.  Everyone stands up and at that point I might as well just sit down and listen.  Made that mistake with U2 once back in 1988ish at the Rosemont.  Was one of the worst concerts I have ever been to.  Leslie is going to see the band on three dates:  1)in Atlanta with me, 2)in St Louis with a friend and 3)in Milwaukee at Summerfest with (yet to be determined…for the Summerfest show I suggest lavish gifts with no real intended purpose while discussing all of the positive attributes of Tom Petty’s music.  She might get the hint and invite you!)

So, my start date has changed.  I was going to begin on Friday, April 28th.  My start date has been postponed to Saturday, April 29th.  The logistics have changed a little bit.  Leslie and I will fly to Atlanta on Thursday April 27th.  That night we will attend the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Atlanta.  It is likely going to be the only concert on this tour of his that I will be able to attend, so hopefully he knocks it out of the park.  On Friday, April 28th we will drive to Amicalola Falls State Park and stay at the lodge.  We will spend that afternoon checking out the falls and the park.  On Saturday the 29th, at or about 9 am I will begin my journey to Maine by driving to the parking lot near Springer Mountain and hiking .9 miles backwards to the start of the trail.  I believe a friend of mine from high school, John Hajicek, is going to meet us at the Park and start this journey with me.  He fully intends to go the distance as well.  Given his athletic background I have no doubt he can do it.  I think for both of us it will be the external aspects (injury, illness, etc…) of the trip that could derail a successful completion.

I also have been looking at being at Harper’s Ferry by July 4ish and am having my doubts about making it.  A more realistic date is around July 10th to 14th.  That is really not of concern as long as mentally I am ready to flip to Mt. Katahdin in Maine and start hiking south back to Harper’s Ferry.  This brings up one other thing I have read in the past and expect to happen to me.  Anyone starting after say about April 15th has time issues to get to Maine.  All of the people they run into along trail, of course while trying to be helpful, let them know that they probably won’t make Maine because they started so late or some variation of that theme. I wonder what the over/under is on my hearing this helpful advice?  I am going to try to keep track of all the “help” I receive in that regard for funsies.  Anyway, as grand and majestic as it would be to finish on top of Katahdin, I also think Harper’s Ferry would be a fine place to finish.  First time I was ever there was a high school trip to Washington DC.  We spent a day at Harper’s Ferry.  Neat place and with the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy there, it makes for a notable finish.  Next time I am here I will look a bit different and will have at least 1,000 miles under my belt and it will be all downhill from there.

Summer of 2015.



Scripted First Couple of Weeks

So this morning I concentrated on setting up the plan to get to Springer and the scripting out the first couple of resupply points.  I am not a huge believer in scripting each day on the trail because I simply do not know what is coming with respect to physical condition or weather conditions.  There will be days I will need to do less, or maybe can do more, because of either or both of those variables.  The other thing a script can do is ruin what is right in front of you that day as you are more concerned with where you need to be by such and such a time or date and not in the moment.  However, I do want to script out the first couple of resupply points to have a general plan in place in the beginning.  Once I am on the trail I can call or message Leslie about future resupply points and number of meals to include in the resupply boxes.   I also developed an end date this morning, or at least the general plan for one.  I am starting on April 28th and want to end by 140 days later (a nice round 20 weeks), which gives me an end date of September 14th.   This means I will need to average approximately 15.6 miles per day overall.  And that puts me in Harper’s Ferry right around July 4th, which mentally is my cutoff date for whether or not I want to flip flop the hike.

The reason a flip flop might be necessary is that Mount Katahdin in Maine typically closes by Oct. 15th each year due to deteriorating weather conditions.  I am not a huge fan of the cold to begin with so I would like to be done by September 1st, but understand that mid-September is more reasonable goal.  If I get to Harper’s Ferry by July 4th I am on track for a mid-September finish.  If I get there after July 4th, I am going slower than I had hoped, and risk not being able to summit Katahdin if I keep hiking north.  At that point, I would then get transportation to Maine and Mount Katahdin and hike south from there back to Harper’s Ferry to finish my thru-hike.  That is a flip-flop.  And it may be necessary if I start in Georgia.

kathadin10252016b  A picture of Katahdin on October 25th this year.

With my late start date other flip-flop options are available to me as well.  I could start in Harper’s Ferry, hike to Katahdin, then travel to Harper’s Ferry and hike south to Springer, or even travel to Springer and hike north to Harper’s Ferry.  I really like the start and finish at Harper’s Ferry idea and am considering that as a possibility.  I have made contact with another thru-hiker (Clark “Mr. Sunshine” King) that did that very hike (hike Harper’s Ferry to Katahdin, travel to Springer and hike Springer to Harper’s Ferry) and will be reading his account of his trip very soon to help me make my decision.

In any event, the planning of this morning was as follows:

April 26th – Complete my physical in the morning and then Leslie and I leave noonish and head south.  Drive 6 or 7 hours and stop for the night.

April 27th – Drive the remaining 5 or 6 hours to Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, explore the park and the waterfall and stay there for the night.

April 28th – Leslie sees me off at Springer Mountain mid morning.  The parking lot is about a mile north of the actual trail head.  So Leslie will hike south with me to the trail head, we will both hike back to the parking lot where I will get my pack (slack pack the first mile!  WOO!) and then I will head out for Day 1 on the trail. (Slack pack means to complete trail miles without your full pack.)

Here are my notes for the scripted first two resupply points:

In Pack 5 Breakfasts/5 Lunches/5 Dinners

Day 1 (Fri 4/28): Springer to Horse Gap – 10.5 – LD

Day 2: Horse Gap to Ramrock Mountain – 8.5 / 19.0 – BLD

Day 3: Ramrock Mountain to Bull Gap – 13.8 / 32.8  (better site at Wolf Laurel Top at 35.3, 2.5 miles more) – BLD

Day 4: Bull Gap (or Wolf Laurel Top) to Low Gap Shelter – 10.4/7.9 / 43.2 – BLD

Day 5: Low Gap Shelter to Blue Mountain Shelter (or Blue Mountain) – 7.3 / 50.5 – BLD

Day 6 (Wed 5/3): Blue Mountain Shelter to Unicoi Gap GA (resupply and overnight in Hiawassee at Top of Georgia Hostel & Hiking Center) – 2.4 / 52.9 – B

8.82 Average per day

In Pack 4B/3L/4D (Bring lunch from Hiawassee (SUBWAY!) for first day of this section)

Day 7: Unicoi Gap GA to Addis Gap – 11.3 / 64.2 – LD

Day 8: Addis Gap to Bly Gap – 14.4 / 78.6 – BLD (First State Done now in NC!)

Day 9: Bly Gap  to Beech Gap – 12.1 / 90.7 – BLD

Day 10: Beech Gap to Long Branch Shelter – 11.8 / 102.5 – BLD

Day 11 (Mon 5/8):  Long Branch Shelter to Winding Stair Gap – 7.3 / 109.8 – B – (shuttle to Franklin, NC stay at Gooder Grove AT & Adventure Hostel, resupply)

11.38 Average per day

I think that is a very reasonable start to the trail and getting into hiking condition.  In all my hiking  doing treks at Philmont I noticed that at the end of the hike is when I was starting to get my trail legs.  Those hikes were generally 10 days and around 75 to 90 miles.  This is eleven days and just over 100 miles, with two nearo days (A nearo day is a low trail mileage day where most of the day was spent resupplying or relaxing, as opposed to a zero day where no trail miles were covered.)

Anyway, that is the plan for the opening salvo of this adventure.

More to come.