Thursday, March 1, 2012

March, The Start of Spring Hiking Season

As hikers living in middle Tennessee, we were always anxious for March to arrive.  Warmer temperatures bring on the lure of the trail.  It also brings out an array of spring wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees which turns the trail into a masterpiece.  In our minds it was the beginning of spring hiking season.
Appalachian Trail Marker in sidewalk in Hot Springs, NC
March is also the beginning of Appalachian Trail thru-hiker season.  Of course, there are always a few hikers who are willing to brave the freezing temperatures and snow who start on their thru-hike early, but most wait for “spring” on Springer Mountain.  March and April will see hundreds of hopeful hikers head north from Springer in Georgia on their quest to reach Mt Katahdin in Maine before the snow flies.
Many of these hikers post journals of their trip and each year I select a few to follow.  It’s not a random selection; I have my guidelines.  I have found I enjoy the narratives of hikers closer to my age rather than the younger ones.  I also like to select hikers who take the time to post about their preparations for the hike.  I have noticed that those hikers who are excited about preparations and want to share that excitement on their journals will be the ones who will post often during their hike.  I have selected six hikers to follow.  These are the three that I’m most excited about.
Star Chickweed
First is Bluevist.  She is one of those brave souls who started Jan 1st.  She is already through Georgia and the Smokies and is well into North Carolina now.  She is hiking alone, which is relatively unusual on the trail, however, women are more and more going on their own.  This is the 10th anniversary of her first thru-hike which she completed in 2002. She has gone out for winter hikes (what she calls walks in the woods) for the past several years.  She hikes as far as she wants and then gets off the trail.  She doesn’t actually say she’s attempting a thru-hike this year, but she seems to be sticking with it even through the snow in the Smokies.  She knows what the Trail is all about and the difficulties of a long distance hike.  I wish her a safe and enjoyable hike whether or not it turns into a thru-hike.
Crested Dwarf Iris
Next is Richard Lindsey.  Richard’s journal caught my eye because he’s hiking with his son, Alex, who recently graduated from high school.  They are from Washington state and are leaving early in March for a drive across the country to begin their hike about the middle of March.

Last are Headnout and Tagnalong.  These are unusual trail names and when I saw them on the 2012 journal list, I immediately clicked to see who they were.  Sure enough, they had done a thru-hike in 2006.  I recognized the names of the older couple we had dinner with at Zealand Hut in the White Mountains.  The hut system in the Whites is a blog in itself, but for the purposes of this story, I’ll just say that the AT passes most of the huts in the White mountains.  Many thru-hikers work for their stay at the huts as they pass through the Whites.  Gene and I were among the 36 guests at Zealand Hut the same night Headnout and Tagnalong were there working for their stay.  We had a great conversation with them that evening.

So, back to their trail journal--After that hike in 2006, Headnout went on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010.  They have decided to thru-hike the AT again this year in celebration of (are you ready for this)--their 49th wedding anniversary.  Isn’t that great! They’ll be starting March 8th, on their anniversary.  They are accomplished long distance hikers and will make it to Mt Katahdin barring injury or other health issues.

These are my favorite picks for journal reads from this years group of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.  I wish all the hikers a safe journey and I’m anxious to follow along through their Trail Journals.

That’s it for today.  By the way, all of today's photos were taken in previous springs.  Thanks for tagging along.


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  2. To whet your appetite to head north to the mountains, I'll tell you that I took my first 2012 wildflower picture of Bloodroot this past Tuesday on Meigs Mountain Trail.

  3. Great, I think I just got hooked into reading a couple of trail journals. Very interesting.
    We're suppose to get 3-6" of snow tomorrow. I CAN'T wait for spring.

  4. Hi Judi and Gene,

    We are spending our winter in the beautiful North Georgia. Top of Georgia Airstram Park is just 3 miles from the AT at Unicoi Gap. Day before yesterdayi thought of you all and your post about trail angels. As we drove into Helen we past two hikers on their way back up the mountain. If we had not had an appointments we would surlely turned around and taken them the 5 miles up the mountain.

    Here in Georgia we have had a ver mild winter...very few nights with freeziing temps. Expect we might see more early AT hikers early this year.

    Enjoy your journal...and you photos.