COUNTDOWN – 18 DAYS!
I have had several friends and family members request my itinerary for my hike so they can follow my progress and maybe even meet me on the trail somewhere. I know it is important to have a plan and I understand the saying that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Several months ago, I took my A.T. Guide by David “Awol” Miller and I mapped out my trek from Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin. It was a great exercise and I thoroughly enjoyed hiking over the pages of the guidebook. To plan a daily 20-mile hike on paper is so easy to do; to make a resupply stop and still manage a 16-mile trek only involves a few strokes of the pencil; to climb up and over 5 mountains in a day is as simple as filling in the blanks.
But executing the plan is quite another matter. So I decided that averaging 18 miles per day (every day for 120 days) might be a little too aggressive. I have begun to map out a plan for 12-15 mile days for the first twelve days; another 12-15 mile/day goal for twelve days in New England (New Hampshire); I figure I can hike 22 miles stretches for 24 days when I hit easier terrain in NJ, NY, MA, and CN; that will leave me about 74 days to average 18- mile walks. That’s 122 days of hiking – if I take a zero-day every 10 days – it will total a 132-day adventure.
However, the plan is only as good as the hiker. I might find that I can only manage 10 miles per day….or maybe I can do 22 miles starting out ….or maybe an injury slows me down for 5 days….or maybe the rain and mud slow my pace to one mile an hour and I find myself exhausted after 6 hours….. or maybe I just can’t stop and decide to set the speed record for 64-year-olds from Ohio. In any case, I think my plan will be good for one night and then part of each evening afterward will be strategizing for the next day. When will I be in Hot Springs, or Damascus, or Harpers Ferry, or Duncannon, or Monson? I really wish I could tell you, but right now it is just a guess and not even an educated one at that. The goal is to start the trail in Georgia and end in Maine sometime before winter.
I am going to start the trail with three plans – fast, hopeful, and slow. I will look forward to filling in the fourth column – actual. As long as the last actual entry has Katahdin behind the mileage, I will be most satisfied!