Originally Posted: 05-23-12
For many years I have dreamed of doing a thru-hike of the Appalachian trail in the traditional sense, from south to north. I imagined the crowds in Georgia and the iconic finish atop Katahdin in Maine. But as it became clear that this was my time to hike the trail, a different itinerary started to emerge, the "head start" or the "flip flop."
My school year as a naturalist at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School extends to the beginning of June. So, I was left with two big options. I could start in Maine and do a Southbound hike, or I could start in the middle. The more I thought about these options the more appealing the start in Harpers Ferry became. This itinerary would make it easier to attend the three weddings I am going to this summer (MD in June, CT in July and ME in August). Also this plan allowed me to fly to my parents house in Baltimore and spend a few days with them at the beginning and in the middle of the trip. Ironically, my time on the trail will allow me to see my folks with the greatest frequency in seven years, since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. Plus, there's the weather and terrain advantage; hiking north through the hottest part of the year and heading south in the fall. Plus I'd get start on one of the easiest sections of trail. This plan was looking really appealing, organically emerging from my life.
Of course I do worry about the social breakup of a half NOBO, half SOBO hike. It is a little bit of a bummer to have break up the trip with a long bus ride and not finish atop Katahdin. All in all though, it seems like the plan I've chosen will be the best for me and it's going to be one hell of an adventure. Only a couple weeks more.