Lee Richards, Pigweed, at 55-years-old, began his Appalachian Trail adventure on February 27 from Springer Mountain. He started his trek with a long-term hiking partner and work colleague, Greg Grant. They hope to hike the first 40 miles together. Pigweed’s wife, Cindy, dropped the two hikers off at Amicalola Falls on the 26th and they began their trek on the AT on the 27th.
Their first day on the trail logged 10.5 miles as they made camp at Horse Gap. It was a beautiful first day, but rain is promised for the next two. The rain did not disappoint. They hiked 6.5 miles to Gooch Gap, called a shuttle service, and caught a ride into Dahlonega. They spent March 1 in Dahlonega avoiding the harsh weather. They were hoping to do a 7.5-mile hike on March 2 (Lance Creek) and then arrive at Neel Gap on Saturday. Greg’s car is waiting at Neel Gap and most likely Pigweed will stay at the hostel there on Saturday night.
What an interesting trail name. Here is the history behind it: Pigweed is a family of weeds (Amaranthus) that are resistant to many herbicides and are an increasing problem for farmers to control. They are an industry scourge for the Agricultural Business in which I work. They are terrible in the South and moving up into the Midwest. When I was jawboning with my buddies about a trail name, an article appeared in a trade magazine “Pigweed Marches North”, and my trail name was born PIGWEED.
Hickory is a mystery hiker and the last of the trailjournal.com thru-hikers to start in February. I do not know his real name, or where he is from. There is only one photo posted so far as an I.D. picture. He stepped out on the Appalachian Trail on February 27, but this was not his first visit to the trail. In fact, this is his 5th attempt to hike the AT. He completed a thru-hike in 2011 and is back to experience the trail again in 2018.
He made it to Hawk Mountain Shelter on day one (8.1 miles on the AT) and then to Big Cedar Mountain (another 14 miles northbound) by the end of day two.
My friend, Bruce Matson, RTK, left for the AT on February 25th. Attached is a picture of Bruce and his wife, Cheryl, at the summit of Springer Mountain. But I have heard nothing from him since that date. He has a website and no news has been posted. I am not sure what to think, but if he checks in and gives an update, I will include him in my early starters and keep you up-to-date on his progress.
So that concludes my trekking cohort of early hikers (beginning in January or February) on the Appalachian Trail. I am following 14 hikers. If the percentage holds true, only 20-25% of these folks will make it (somewhere between 2.8 and 3.5 people). I am hoping for at least four. Stay tuned and relax as these adventurers take us on their journeys to Maine.