Thru Hiker? Section Hiker?? Flip Flopper???

I’m off the trail again, giving my feet a needed break. I hope to get back on the trail soon, assuming my feet cooperate, which I’m assuming they will. On the plus side, I was home for Diane’s birthday (a significant one mind you) which was a very good thing. And, I didn’t even have to blast over the legendary rocks of PA to make it home in time. Because if I did, I’d likely be off the trail for good. Horrific was one word used to describe the last third (heading north) of PA.

In case you’re wondering, I did make it past the half way point.

IMG_1263

I placed the call home, asking to be retrieved in Carlisle, PA. It was convenient for all involved. Actually, to highlight the tenuousness and spirit of the trail, Diane and I were having breakfast in Carlisle (she left early to get me) and two other hikers that I knew, Voodoo and Caboose were also having breakfast. They were trying to figure out a way for Caboose to get home to Pottsville, PA, as he had a 1pm doctor’s appointment for a cortisone shot, to hopefully alleviate the back pain he was experiencing. It was about 11:30am. Hmmm, this could be a tough one logistically for him. Since we would be driving very close to Pottsville, we offered Caboose a ride. We dropped them off at his home, he made his appointment, and we felt better about helping out. That’s kinda’ what the trail is all about! Lessons for society as a whole?

If I do return to the trail, I’m contemplating heading up to Maine and essentially hiking home (again). This is what’s known as a flip-flop hike. Hike about half the trail, and then hike the other half, but either in a different direction or from a different starting point. It would be great to see all the people I’ve meet and hiked with, as they continue their personal quests heading north.

If I don’t get back on the trail to complete the hike this year, I’d be disappointed, but not sad. I hiked a few days with this great guy Jim. Jim was a section hiker (he was out for about two weeks doing a section of the trail) who in our conversations along the way said “it’s better to collect experiences than it is to collect things.” Those words have stuck with me, and by that measure I can say my time on the trail has been an unqualified success. The people I’ve met, the conversations I’ve had, the things I’ve seen, what I’ve learned, the experiences, or taken as a whole, the experience, have all been wonderful. I’m so thankful for the time I did have on the trail.

And, I’ve got a nifty little beard which may stick with me longer than expected.

IMG_1266
Last known picture of “Ivan the Terrible”

In terms of some of those experiences and learning, I’ve done a small recap of my gear. A bit verbose, but if you’re interested, click here to find out what I had to say.

As it turns out, I was interviewed twice on the trail about the trail. Once was for the Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, VA. Take a look here. These pictures were taken shortly after the Shenandoah Standoff that I wrote about. We were probably still babbling about that experience when we encountered Nikki Fox the photographer.

The other time I was interviewed was in Damascus by Appalachian Trials. A short video about highlights of the trail, following Trail Days in Damascus was the topic. I appear about four minutes into the clip.

To be continued…