Posts Tagged With: Class of 2017

Class of 2017 – January to March: Part 2

As I shared in my last post, there are 139 online journals posted on trailjournals.com that reflect a start date on the Appalachian Trail in January, February and March. Of these 139 bloggers, there are only 27 active journals at the end of the day on July 8. Let me give you a quick update on these “early starters.”

Buttercup

Buttercup and D.P.Roberts

Just today, July 9th, another journal shared its final entry as a knee injury is forcing a couple from Germany, Buttercup and D.P.Roberts, off the trail. Their diary was written in German so I found a German translation app to help me understand their posts. They had reached Wind Gap in Pennsylvania. The boulders of PA claimed another twist and in just that quick of a moment the hike needed to be postponed and abandoned. Therefore only 26 remain.

There is no one left on the trail who began their trek in January. Only six of the 27 hikers began the journey in February while the remaining 21 (including Buttercup and D.P.Roberts) initiated their adventure in March. 1st Sgt. and Beaker, the hiking buddies that I am following more closely, started the journey 2 days apart – 1st Sgt. began on February 24 and Beaker left Springer Mountain on Feb 26.

007

Springer Mountain Southern Terminus

All 26 hikers still on the trail began in Springer Mountain, Georgia and are hiking northbound (NOBO) although two hikers have just decided to do a Flip Flop – a hike that stops hiking NOBO, travels to Maine, climbs Katahdin while the weather is still nice, and then turns around and heads southbound (SOBO) to completion.  

These brave adventurers are spread out over seven different states. In addition to the two flip floppers who are in Maine, three other NOBOers find themselves hiking their last state. The leader of this group is Salesman, from Charlotte, NC, who is very close to his victory climb to the top of Katahdin. Four of the thru-hikers are in Vermont; another four in Massachusetts; one in New York; one in New Jersey; nine are fighting through the rocks of Pennsylvania; and three are still working their way up the state of Virginia.

The journals that remain are recording the adventures of  sixteen men, four women, and six couples. I pray that each has an amazing experience and I will be excited to see how many are able to complete this physically and emotionally challenging event.  

Photo of  Buttercup and D.P.Roberts found at  http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/about/18839
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class of 2017, Georgia, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Pennsylvania, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Class of 2107: January-March

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My old fashion journal 2014

When a thru-hiker posts a journal on trailjournals.com, they list their trail name and the projected date for their first day on the trail. I enjoy following a few journals rather closely (like Beaker) to observe their journey along the incredible Appalachian Trail. My 2014 thru-hike floods my mind as places and landmarks are shared in the online diaries.

I also like keeping track of all the journals of the class of 2017 and periodically noting where each pilgrim is along the path. It is sometimes tedious to record the details of my interests but it is also quite interesting to try to see the overall picture of the cohort.

For example, there are 139 online journals reflecting a start date in January, February and March. Of these 139 bloggers, there are only 27 active journals left as of today. What happened to the other 112? Let me share what I can discern.

FullSizeRenderThe largest category, 41 journals, are what I call a “No Show”. A “No Show” is a blogger who posts some pre-hike entries but then posts nothing on or after his/her target start date. The journal is simply empty. Did the individual make it to the AT? I don’t know, but I do know that he/she has abandoned this online journal as a form of communication.

Some journals (34 presently) receive my label, “No Entry,” which means that the journal was being populated and then suddenly, without explanation, the hiker quits recording his/her adventure. After 30-40 days of silence I assume that they are off the trail. Maybe they just got tired of posting to the site, but in either case it is frustrating being left behind without some insight or reason.

701This leaves 37 online reports that ended short of the thru-hiker expectations of completing the 2, 189 mile trek through 14 states in one season of hiking. The number one reason for a hiking-ending experience is injury (20 hikers). This is not a surprise given the difficult terrain and demanding challenge that the trail presents. Five hikers encountered injury during their pre-hikes and postponed their attempts for another year. Fifteen pilgrims attributed on trail injuries to their early departure. The injuries varied – seven knees, three legs, two shoulders, one back, one toe, and one foot – but all them them made the journey impossible to complete.

Fourteen hikers left the trail for emotional reasons. Of those, an even dozen left out of discouragement – hard trails, tired feet, bad weather can lead to depression and homesickness. Two others called it boredom discovering that the AT is not always a glorious view of mountain flowers, wildlife, and overlooks. A thru-hiker must watch his/her feet constantly to avoid the faceplant caused by rocks and roots.

One hiking couple ran out of time and realized after four months on the trail that they could not make it before the responsibilities of home demanded their return. What a difficult decision they had to make. Another hiker needed to leave the trail to attend to a family emergency. And yet another, stated his reason for leaving as “unexpected issues.”

Book Cover 2

Check Out My Book

It is sad to see people leave the trail. However, I almost always read the online comments of the hikers themselves that what they experienced was life-changing, mind-changing, or personally impactful. I believe that every hiker takes part of the trail with them, deep inside, that does not easily fade. The experience of being in God’s creation, whether 30 miles or 2,000 miles stays in the heart and speaks to the mind in powerfully unique ways. I would love for you to read my book, Hike It Forward, and experience the Appalachian Trail through my eyes and spirit (simply click on the book cover and purchase it from Amazon). Then give it a try and see if you don’t agree.   

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Book, Class of 2017, Hike It Forward, Hiking, Injuries, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The AT Class of 2017

The class of 2017 thru-hikers is off and climbing over the hills of Appalachia. The excited adventurers all hope that they have what it takes to hike 2,186 miles and the fortitude to travel through 14 states in order to complete the journey. There is a small percentage of thru-hikers that post their journals online through a website, trailjournals.com. I enjoy reading their stories as I retrace my journey in 2014. Several brave men and women have answered the challenge of the mountains and have set out on the path as early as January.

Vagabond on a snowy path

Only one journal began in January – an older hiking team of Vagabond and Wiesbaden started at Dennis Cove, TN on January 18, 2107. Sickness demanded that they spend several days off trail, but they have returned and their journal on 3/30/17 located them about 7.5 miles north of Pearisburg, VA. They are making slow progress but they have also encountered some difficult weather. They have logged in 234.8 total miles during their 70-day trek.

Nineteen active hikers began their attempts in February and I am tracking 71 hikers that jumped on the AT during the month of March for a total of 91 current pilgrims on the trail. But wait…. there will be a bulging bubble of hikers that start during April and a few late bloomers hitting the AT in May. I will continue to add to my statistics as others join the travelers.

There are also a large number of excited bloggers that anticipate being part of the class of 2017, but for one reason or another simply do not follow-through on their journal. Typically, they just drop off the website with no journal entries after some pre-hike posts. If there is no entry, then I take them off my watch list and turn my eyes to those who are active. From January through March there are 47 hikers with blank pages

Bacon on the AT

from the trail. They might be on the AT somewhere or they might have reason for staying home – either way, they are not included in my numbers.

Of the 91 hiker-diaries active online, six of those journals record the hiker’s need to leave the trail. Physical, emotional, and unknown reasons tell the tale. Let me let their journals share the stories.

Trail name: Bacon“Due to some unexpected issues that have popped up over the last several days, I am forced to leave the trail this year”

Giggles: “Giggles tried to hike another day with his bad knees but decided BEFORE going over Bull Gap to call the hike! He and Chitz rented a car and headed home. He was in good spirits and looking forward to shower and clean clothes! We are sure that giggles will section hike in the future but for now he will just enjoy his new status of ‘retired’.”

Poncho Gorilla and Idgie2/23/17 “The MRI showed a complex tear of meniscus. The doctor said that he would like to do surgery next Wednesday. He said full recovery would be around 30 days. We now plan to do a flip flop hike.” 3/3/17 “I had surgery on March 1. It was a partial meniscectomy. I am icing frequently and have been walking in the house. Some swelling is still present. I can feel daily improvement and caution

Pokeymom

myself not to over do it. I am still cautiously optimistic for a start this month on the trail. We will do a flip flop if able to get on trail”

Pokeymom: “I am a wimpy slow fair-weather hiker. I’m friendly and cheerful and cautious of my foot placement to the point of extreme low mileage. I had no aches or pains or blisters or falls….although I did start with bronchitis which is still lingering around the edges. I carried too much food and too much weight but used everything I brought and was comfortable.”

Icy Blood Mountain

Mattman: “Coming down off Blood Mt. on the way to Neel Gap I slipped on ice and injured my shoulder. It’s bad. I cannot lift my arm. The attempt is over. I am so disappointed. I suppose I am lucky–it could have been worse.”

Stay in touch and I will attempt to update the class of 2017 on a weekly basis.

Photos captured from the journals

Vagabond – http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1090036

Bacon – http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1087472

Pokeymom http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=21129

Mattman’s Blood Mountain http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1091779

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, Class of 2017, Pearisburg, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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