Monday, March 2, 2015

AT Class of 2015 - First Hiker Hits the Trail

Day 1: "I just want to get to the damn trail." - Clifford said with a laugh

Clifford is the trail name of Sam.  Sam is the first of the Class of Thru Hikers that I will be following this year.  I met Clifford and five other perspective Thru Hikers at the Northern Ruck in January at the Bears Den Hostel.  I mentioned them and my hope to follow them in my February AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter and I am excited for each of them as they start their journey.

Each year I usually follow a number of hikers that are at least semi regular at updating their hiking status.  I put little markers on my AT strip map and watch as they travel along the trail, ultimately, hopefully reaching their desired goal of Katahdin, Springer or somewhere in between.

Hiker Tracker
When I met this group of hikers, one that struck me was that they are covering the full spectrum of different types of hikers.  We have a solo north bounder (NOBO), a NOBO who will be traveling with his dog, a couple who will also be heading NOBO, a Flip-Flopper starting in Daleville and heading north for the first part of her journey and a solo SOBO (south bounder), who will be the last to start the trip.  We have males and females and younger and older hikers.  It will be very interesting to follow each of them, learning of their trials and tribulations and cheering them on as they figure out how to keep going.

Each of these hikers have agreed to let me track them and report on them as I can.  I will be getting most of my information from the hiker's on line journals and social networking posts.  If any of them are using a delay to protect their exact location, that delay will be a part of the reports.  

This year will be interesting as I have already met each of the hikers (except the hairy missile) and I think each of them has a good chance of making it all the way.  Of course, statistics are not in favor of that happening, but I have seen many hikers finish the trail that appeared at first glance to be totally unprepared.  I have also seen very prepared hikers get off the trail for various reasons.  There is no way to know, but each will tell a story, whether it ends at Big Stamp or Neels Gap, or goes all the way to Katahdin (or Springer for Justin).  I look forward to sharing their stories here.

Introductions:  Listed in order of jump off:

Sam aka Clifford - Clifford is 18 and is the first to start their hike.  He was originally scheduled to start on February 25th, then the 28th (due to the crazy weather that has rolled through the mountains) and has finally made it to the trail yesterday, March 1st.  The comment above is from his Facebook page for his hike.  It looks like the snow is still causing problems on the forest service road and Clifford had to head back to Amicalola Falls and hike the Approach Trail.  Regardless, he is on his way.  Good luck Clifford.  Keep on hiking.  

The famous Amicalola Falls Arch

Clifford at the falls

Andrew aka Double A - Double A is hiking with his dog Aramis aka the Hairy Missile. AA is 34 and just finished the Tuscarora Trail last year.  He also is an Adirondack peak bagger.  The two are scheduled to start the trail on March 10th.  Andrew will have the help of his girlfriend Hannah, who will help with the HM during the Smoky Mountains part of the hike and I'm sure there will be other meet-ups.  AA and HM's Trail Journals page is here.  

Joel and Patti aka Scoops and Iceberg - Patti had the trail name Iceberg suggested to her at the Northern Ruck, so she is trying it on for now.  Joel and Patti hail from Wilmington, DE and plan to start the trail somewhere around the end of March or the beginning of April.  Their hike will show how a couple can tackle the trail together.  I'm not going to guess the couple's ages, but I will say they are closer to my age than Clifford's.  Scoops and Iceberg's trail journal is located here.  

Kerry aka Treehugger - Kerry is in her early 50s and is helping with the suspected large crowds down south by doing a planned Flip Flop hike, starting in Daleville, VA and heading north to Katahdin, then coming down to Daleville and heading south to Springer (I think).  Flip Flops come in many variations and are only limited on your imagination and needs to get the trail done.  I myself are leaning towards doing a flip flop when it is our turn to hit the trail. Kerry is scheduled to start her hike on April  4th and is also scheduled to talk at the Flip Flop Kick Off celebration in Harpers Ferry on May 3rd.  Treehugger's trail journal can be found here.

Justin - Last but not least (the SOBOs are always last :) )  I don't know if Justin has a trail name yet, or if he is waiting for one to be gifted to him after he starts his hike.  Justin will be the last to start his hike as is common with south bounders.  Katahdin isn't easily hikeable until late May or June, so he can't start until he can climb that mountain.  His scheduled start date is July 7th.  Justin doesn't have a trail journal account and isn't really the journaling type (as he said to me), but he does hope to provide updates on his Facebook wall from time to time.  

So there you have it.  I hope to post updates as much as possible as these hikers make their way along the trail and stack up their miles.  

Good luck to each of you.  Have the time of your lives, but this is an adventure of a lifetime.  

One final comment from Clifford's Facebook Hike page.  "Sam sent word this morning that he was at Springer for breakfast. This means that he has officially started the Appalachian Trail!"

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