Saturday, March 15, 2008


My grandfather used to say, "It's time to begin to get ready to commence to start!"

I'm committing: Although I don't have an exact date down, this is the middle of March, and one year from now (or two weeks from now, like April Fool's Day) I expect to plant my first step on the Appalachian Trail.

Planning starts now, and includes making sure my mother will be taken care of, not 24/7 but just someone checking in every day and doing little things for her. I don't know why I consider this more of an absolute for my hiking than I do for traveling to heaven-knows-where with Steve. Some kind of guilt trip, I guess. Gotta get rid of that. It's weight I don't need in my pack.

I'll miss Sarah's first birthday but she won't know. I don't mind that, myself. I don't want to miss her ACTUAL birthday, which is the reason I'm not hiking this year.

The most popular starting dates are today, the Ides of March; St. Patrick's Day; and April Fool's Day. On any of those dates, I'd probably find a trip-long hiking companion within the first day. But on any day between the middle of March and the middle of April, about 30 people start. I won't be alone or wanting for comrades.

Surprisingly, the one thing I'm *not* committing to is hiking all the way to Maine. Six months is a long time to live in the woods. A little less than 3 months would get me to Harper's Ferry, WV, and from there I could hike home, if Steve is staying again 20 miles away in Winchester, VA; if he's back at Deep Creek in Maryland, it would be a 2-hour drive to come pick me up; or I might decide to keep going. Or take a break and go home for a few days (maybe for Sarah's birthday?) and then keep going.

This plan has been on hold for so long, I hardly remember how to start planning it, even though I was so close last fall to leaving....well.... right about now.
It's time to begin to get ready to commence to start.


ShirleyPerly said...

How exciting!! Being gone for even 3 months is huge and I'm sure takes lots of planning ahead. Hell, I don't think my husband could take care of himself for 3 months ;-)

From Here to There said...

I am so glad you're doing this! I hope you'll have room in your pack for a cell or blackberry so that you can post remotely occasionally - I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to follow your progress and cheer you from the sidelines.

The picture, when it came in my bloglines... breathtaking. Thank you for posting it.

Ellie Hamilton said...

I'll take a cellphone, but I don't have a blackberry or anything like that. You leave the trail every so often (once or twice a week) to go into a town to resupply food etc.; often there's someplace with internet access, like a library or something. What I might do is keep a written journal and periodically mail it to some ambitious and generous volunteer to type up and post on my blog :-)

I'm glad you liked the picture as much as I did.... I didn't take it myself (wish I had)-- got it via an "Appalachian Trail" search of Google Images.

Jade Lady said...

Congrats on making the commitment!

Doug said...

My wife and I thru-hiked in 2001. The one thing we did that made it a reality more than anything else was setting a date. After we set a date, we told everyone to make it harder to back out. We did that 14 months before our start date. I firmly believe if we hadn't set that date, we'd still be dreaming about hiking that trail today. It was the best thing I ever did. Good luck with your planning. It'll be a great adventure.