The 2014 Appalachian Trail Loose-End Extravaganza, Coming Soon!

What ho, world! In about a month, I'll be stepping into the Eastern forests to attempt to finish out the sections of the AT that are still missing for me after my 2011 almost-thru-hike. According to my old copy of the AWOL guide, this encompasses 408 miles total:

  • 290 miles from PA Highway 183 (1194.5), just south of Port Clinton, PA, to Falls Village, CT (1484.5). The Pennsylvania highway is where I decided I'd had enough limping around in the rain on my — unbeknownst to me at the time — stress-fractured shin and hitched a ride into town on July 9, 2011. Falls Village is the town where I re-joined the trail, and my friends Perro and Manks, on July 23.
  • 118 miles from the start of an old blue-blaze into Monson, ME, to Mt. Katahdin and the northern terminus. I knew by the time I got to the middle of Maine in 2011 that I didn't want to reach the northern terminus without taking care of that Mid-Atlantic lacuna first. So I made plans to end at Monson, the start of the 100-Mile Wilderness, and knock out the rest some other year. I distinctly recall waving bye and saying out loud, "See you in a few years" to the last white blaze I saw as I turned to walk into Monson on September 16, 2011.

10 days' supplies? Hmm. 

How come my old PCT friend Shorts only needed 3, then?

 Oh, that's right, because he was trying to break the AT speed record earlier this year.

I intend, if the transport works out, to hike the Mid-Atlantic section southbound so that I'll have some company in the form of SOBO thru-hikers. Then I intend to go north through the 100-Mile Wilderness and summit Katahdin sometime around the end of the first week of September. Gear changes from my PCT setup include:

  • A 45-degree synthetic mummy bag that I've had for awhile, rather than my 20-degree down quilt. Great for wet August hiking on the East Coast, where it's unlikely to get very cool at night but will definitely rain on me. Also, I trust a synthetic bag to have a little more durability lying down in a dirty, splintery AT shelter than my precious down quilt would. Saves a few ounces (four) from the quilt.
  • A real waterproof/breathable raincoat, not just a windbreaker. This will be a substantial investment. Still in the research phase.
  • A merino t-shirt. Most warm-weather, long-distance AT hiking by men of my vintage is done shirtless. It's so humid that the sweat only gets sponged up by whatever garments you wear. Sun is not a concern in the green tunnel. But you still need something to wear under another layer maybe, or on a cool-ish morning, or when it's not socially acceptable to be shirtless. And it needs to not smell like ass the minute it gets sweaty—which polyester shirts absolutely do. Merino wool is by far the least smelly, most comfortable option here.
  • Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent. I sold my fussy, awkwardly shaped, scary-in-only-mildly-bad-weather ZPacks Hexamid space tent from the PCT and found a deal on the BA almost immediately after coming home from the PCT. I'm taking a 1lb weight penalty for simplicity and actual weatherproofness. And I feel great about it.

You can follow along with all the action right here at I'll aim for daily updates, as on the PCT. Until then, pip pip!