2017 Begins

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Northborough, MA

This marks the beginning of my fourth, and perhaps final, year of this grand journey on the Appalachian Trail.
Started in 2014 with ambition, goal firmly set to hike the entire length of the Trail in one go. Hours and hours reading and planning the trip. Each pack and clothing item carefully considered and reconsidered. Hikes around the neighborhood with a full pack, sleeping in the backyard in the middle of winter to test the tent, sleeping bag, bag liner, and clothes. Trail food researched and prepared. 
Go on trail along with hundreds of others similarly informed and hopeful. But that hike ended, comfortably, 685 miles later (see 2014 blog posts for the whole story). I'd been exposed to the hikers, trail culture, trail angels, the beauty, the fitness, the weight loss, and the pain. 
I didn't get a thru hike, but I was completely hooked.
2015’s goal was to get away for a while, still digesting my mother’s demise from her slow motion, twisted journey with dementia. Quiet in the woods, talking to almost nobody but family, publishing no blog. Took eight days to hike all but the last mile or so of the Massachusetts section.
Last year, 2016, the goal was to get in some miles ahead of a planned July vacation with Deb in Maine. A consulting gig had ended suddenly, and I was left without a project so off I went. Set my sights to start in Virginia where I’d stopped in 2014, and meet at some point with hiking partner Gabe (now "Sketch") who was wandering northward during his third year trying to thru hike. Was a great success, hiked with Gabe for over half of 437 miles and ended up at the northern most end of my planned exit points.
This year there are two big sections left to go. From the exit point in 2016 south of Mount Holly Springs, PA, to the starting point of the 2015 hike in Salisbury, CT (about 387 miles). I'll then take a week or so to recover and put on some weight before returning to the end point of the 2015 hike in North Adams, MA and on to Mt. Katahdin, ME (about 597 miles).

After three consecutive, leading to four consecutive, years on the AT, I have settled into the role of a LASH, or long-ass section hiker. Compared to 2014, I could probably be trail ready in a day but have more time than that. So have begun the process of pulling out gear and checking it, buying an updated trail guide, and thinking about food plans. Have a tentative start date of May 2nd. 
My Dad - almost 88 years old - has offered to help as my shuttle driver, but more on that in a later post. 

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