Let me give you a quick update on the early hikers keeping their online journals on trailjournals.com. I am tracking 11 hikers to date and they are scattered over the first 275 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Let me provide an update based on the start date of each hiker.
Genesis – started on January 14, 2018. He started at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (the psychological half-way point of the AT and began hiking north into Pennsylvania. He hiked 79 miles to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. He then took care of some appointments at home and is currently driving to Georgia. His goal is to start at Springer Mountain this Friday, March 2, 2108.
Zin Master, Ken Nieland from Colorado, began his adventure on January 23, 2018. He has had a difficult beginning. He came off trail for 17 days with blisters. Once back on trail, he trekked for eleven days without blisters. His shin began to hurt him, so on February 24, he headed for an urgent care in Franklin, NC. He was diagnosed with tendinitis. He took two zero days then returned to the AT for two logging in 19.4 miles. He continued to slow down with discomfort so on February 27, he called his wife, Peaches, to let her know that he was getting off the trail. He got a shuttle from Tellico to Franklin and drove back to his in-laws in Kingsport Tennessee. He shared on his blog, Until I figure out my plan, I will be suspending updates of this journal. Thank you, everyone for the support you have given me on this journey, it has buoyed my spirits time and again. I will post an update once I figure out what’s next.
Hard Knocks hit the trail on January 31. He is the first hiker to reach Hot Spring, North Carolina, the first trail town along the AT at mile 273.9. This is not a race, but Hard Knocks is making great time with his pace of diligence. He has made it through the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park and is enjoying some time with his parents who have driven over from Indiana to be with him.
Vagabond Jack’s thru-hike began on February 1st. He is currently averaging 5.33 miles per day. At this current rate, it will take Jack 410 days to complete his hike. He is aware of his pace and commented in his last post, As for putting in more miles, I’m trying not to rush it, but will try to push myself a little harder. It was slow today going up, but my legs and feet feel great now. The new shoes are working out, and I still haven’t had a blister (knock on wood). I know the Smokies will be difficult, but ten or twelve miles a day should be feasible. Another thing I’ve considered is that, should I realize I can’t make it to Katahdin before they close the park in October, I’ll do a flip-flop. I’ll get off the trail, travel to Katahdin, then head south until I meet up with my jumping-off point.
Opa made his first steps on the Appalachian Trail on February 10. He continues to hike with three other thru-hikers (they call themselves the four horsemen). He has the best pace of any of the hikers so far averaging 14.2 miles every day. He reached a beautiful spot call Max Patch on a gorgeous day, February 27. He comments, Today we climbed Max Patch, a bald summit covered in a meadow. The views were spectacular in 360 degrees, we were all in awe. I lingered there for an hour, sat down and made my dinner right on the summit. I hated to leave, but it was getting late and we still needed to get to the shelter before nightfall.
February 15 was Bamadog’s start date. 61-year-old Marty Dockins has logged 150.7 miles. He enjoyed some good food at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) on February 26 and met Vagabond Jack on the trail on the 27th. They are not hiking together but it was interesting to see two of “journalers” meet along the way. He is staying Wolf Creek Hostel on February 27 about 12.5 miles north of the NOC.
Cass Act began his adventure on February 18. He is putting in about 7.0 miles per day. On the 27th of February took a nero-day (a short day of only 3.6 miles) and spent some rest time at Top of Georgia Hostel (TOG) at Dick’s Creek. He is planning on two zero days at TOG because of some predicted bad weather.
Chip Tillson’s first journal post was February 20 from the top of Springer Mountain having completed the approach from Amicalola Falls. He shared, my bad knee is not performing up to needed specs, lots of pain. I was more than a little concerned about this early comment. He has not complained since and has not taken a zero day. His last post (2/27) indicated, I’m gonna try to push through to the hostel at Dicks Creek Gap on Thursday for cleanup, resupply, and maybe a zero
Sour Kraut headed out for Maine on February 21. His journal consists more of photographs and links to videos. He is not tracking his mileage very well although it appears that on February 27, he is pitching his hammock close to Kelly Knob (mile-marker 65.2.
Husband and wife, Which Way and Next Step, from Washington DC, just started their trek on February 24. They arrived at Neel Gap on February 27. Taking advantage of a shuttle ride to nearby Blairsville, the couple has headed to the Seasons Inn for a zero-day on the 28th.
The newest hiker to this year’s cohort is Dave (David Snow, currently from Louisiana) and Abby (his dog: Border Collie/Australian Shepard mix.), who began their journey on February 26. Their first day in the AT found them at Hawk Mountain Shelter (8.1 miles) and day two ended at Woody Gap (12 more miles). Dave hiked the AT in 2000 and is now back for a second attempt.
It is hard to track them all. Here is a chart that might give you a perspective on their hikes.
|20||21||Dave and Abbie||Woody Gap||Feb 26|
|31.7||WhichWay /Next Step||Neel Gap||Feb 24|
|58.6||Chip Tillson||Tray Mt Shelter||Feb 20|
|65.2||Sour Kraut||Kelly Knob||Feb 21|
|69.6||Class Act||Dick’s Creek||Feb 18|
|129.2||Zin Master||Tellico Gap||Jan 23|
|144||Vagabond Jack||Sassafras Gap||Feb 1|
|150.7||Bamadog||Stecoah Gap||Feb 15|
|255.9||Opa||Roaring Fork||Feb 10|
|273.9||Hard Knocks||Hot Springs||Jan 31|