Last year I decided to follow the trail journals of a husband and wife team and a solo guy my age as they attempted their thru-hikes of the AT. The solo guy, an experienced hiker, blasted along and finished with apparent ease. The couple had to overcome a few struggles along the way, but they topped the sign on Katahdin too. I enjoyed reading about their exploits so much, I decided to pick two more to follow this year.
So I found a solo man and solo woman, both about my age. They bounced off Springer, full of energy and enthusiasm. The solo man, missing his life and wife, dropped off after fifty miles. The solo woman struggled on the trail for just over two weeks, covered less than fifty miles, gave the typical “It was never about doing the whole trail” speech and went home.
So I removed both of their journals from my browser’s “Hiking” links folder.
This isn’t a condemnation of these two souls. Far from it. I’m aware of the reality: Less than twenty-five percent of those who begin a thru-hike complete it. I post this to illustrate the enormity/difficulty of the undertaking, and the realities of such when the rubber finally meets the trail. But I have to admit to being shocked at both giving up before even leaving Georgia (78.2 miles currently gets you to North Carolina). Given the immense amount of planning and preparation involved, not to mention the cost of gear, my wife would have my head if I didn’t at least touch the GA/NC sign before calling it a hike.
So I’ve picked out two more to follow, a solo man who reminds me a lot of the one I followed last year who raced through the 2,189 miles, and a mid-twenties married couple hiking with a single friend who enjoy the added pressure-to-complete of having a story written about their exploit in the local newspaper.
I’ll be pulling for them all, of course. And if I’m still here in Maine when they pass through Monson, I’ll try to get out there to say hi, something I missed doing last year with the others.