Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This is Saddleback Mountain. The Appalachian Trail goes right across the summit of Saddleback which rises about 200 miles south of Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT.
Today I was talking with one of my favorite judges who has been section hiking the trail for many years. He plans to retire next year and hit the trail for however many months it takes to finish up. Section hikers break the 2175 mile trail up into manageable bits and hike for a week or two weeks at a time, sometimes picking up where they left off the year before. He told me that for the last several years he has been hiking through Virginia during June and often meets up with the first wave of thru hikers who started early in the year at Springer Mountain, Georgia.
Thru hikers travel the trail from one end to the other in one long season.
In September, 2005, C and I hiked Saddleback. September is a busy month on the Maine stretch of the AT as the last thru hikers are racing to reach Katahdin before the snow closes the park and the trails. This picture of us was taken by some AT hikers.
AT hikers give themselves monikers such as Fiddlehead or Stinky Toes--the men that took our picture gave us trail names, but I don't remember them any more. If I ever gave myself a trail name it would be Fiddlehead because of the non-stop fiddle music sound track that plays in my head--but that's a post for another day--or maybe something I should share with a mental health professional.
Every year, people who have traveled the trail write books about their experiences. One that is particularly enjoyable to hikers and non-hikers, is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. A little nature, a little history and a whole lot of humor.