My wife and I have been in Florida for the month of January visiting our daughter and her family and my AT preparation has been limited to daily workouts at the YMCA, long walks pushing my grandsons in the baby jogger (see photo), and reading books about the AT. I call the reading “motivational training”.
For Christmas my son gave me the Barefoot Sisters’ second book, “Walking Home”, which I have finished and I am currently re-reading “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail”. The Barefoot Sisters’ book is very well-written and is entertaining. The sisters are free-spirited hikers in their early twenties who spent well over a year hiking the trail – first southbound, then turning around and hiking it again northbound. They take a lot of breaks in trail towns and even took a short trip to Florida during their northbound hike.
AWOL’s book is more representative of how I see myself hiking the trail. He spent very little time in trail towns, except for when he needed to recover from medical problems, and although he made quite a few friends, he did not purposefully seek out a lot of social activities and relationships. He had a very organized strategy for hiking and put in a lot of miles most days so that he could hike the trail quickly and minimize the amount of time he was away from his family.
They say that everyone has to hike their own hike and these two books represent two diverse, but equally valid, approaches to hiking the AT.
We’re heading back to Virginia on Saturday and I will miss our daughter and her family but I am looking forward to the final two months of preparation before I start the trail. I need to get back into the mountains for some training hikes and get used to carrying my pack. Also, I want to get in one more overnight backpacking trip to make a final checkout of my gear. As D-Day approaches (April 1st) I will be watching the weather forecast for the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina.
“That’s a big bug!”