I have decided to do a 'Yo-Yo' my way: hike the entire trail twice in one calendar year. Yep, I'm doubling my challenge. The logistics work better for me because I love day-hikes but don't have any interest in camping. So I will essentially hike daily out-and-back legs and return to my vehicle at the end of every day, when possible. (Some places with limited road crossings won't allow that so I'll have to spend some nights on the trail.)
Hike the whole AT by day hikes? Yes, that's been done too, and there's a book about it.
I stopped in at the AT Conservancy office in Harper's Ferry on Friday and picked up a bunch of maps, books, and valuable info and have been doing some itinerary planning since then. My basic design is to try to be at various parts of the trail during the optimum times (best weather conditions), so I'm splitting the trail up into about seven sections:
- I will start in Troutville, VA as near to January 1, 2012 as weather permits. Troutville is near the southern end of the 300 mile section of AT that I've already done by day hikes. I plan to re-do this 300 mile section last of all (see below). From Troutville I will hike south toward the Smokies (encountering much higher altitudes and presumably more snow as I go south and winter melts into spring). I will take zero days whenever the weather is lousy, particularly if there's more than a few inches of snow on the trail. This long leg will end at Davenport Gap on the north border of Smoky Mountain Park.
- Move to Springer Mtn. - southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and hike north to Fontana Dam. Depending on timing, I am likely to be in the thick of the fresh-starting NoBo thru-hikers, so I'll have a taste of that unique human environment.
- Weather permitting I'll hike Smoky Mountain National Park. If it's not yet April 1st, I'll delay this section, coming back do it later in spring. I want to hike the park when the road to Clingman's Dome is open.
- Skipping north beyond the 300 mile section of the AT that I've already hiked, I'll pick up the trail 20 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line in southern PA and hike north from there as far as I can go until July 1st.
- On July 1st or thereabouts (perhaps after a few days off the trail and back at the beach), I'll skip north to Hanover, NH and hike north from there to Katahdin (the northern termius of the Appalachian Trail).
- Return to Hanover, NH and head South from there to the point where I stopped on July 1st.
- Return to the north end of the section I hiked in 2009 and 2010 (Michaux State Forest, PA to Troutville, VA) and hike south to Troutville, completing the trail there hopefully some time in the late fall.
I'm in Maryland this weekend celebrating my son's 22nd birthday, and on the way north I put in 20 more miles on the AT (which gave me the excuse to stop in at Harper's Ferry). I forgot to bring my camera cable with me, so I'll put in a post about that AT hike when I get back home later this week. Fall colors were developing, and the weather was beautiful. More later ...