With a myriad of other things that take priority including healing, it seems to be a practice in whimsical fantasy to be planning the next part of this hike - south to Georgia from Harpers Ferry.
Last year at this time I was undertaking planning in a very different manner. Between trying to hike as many miles as I could in the cold of Nova Scotia, dealing with ice and snow neither of which I expected to see on my Summer trek, I would plow through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Guide Books and the updated AT Data Book (Yes, I own the whole set or I did until the PA one got caught in an unexpected thunderstorm and dissolved.) You would find me comparing the Books, to the maps and then I would rummage through the internet trying to find information on mail drop towns and what I could expect to find there.
At that time I had not multi day long distanced hiked at all.
(Decided that previous statement deserved more space since the audacity of my plans didn't strike me at the time.) Here I was planning a thru hike of the AT and I had no clue about so many things. Not knowing what you dont know is sometimes a happy space and it was where I was as I gleefully looked at terrain and elevations and calculated how far I imagined could go each day. (By the way I accomplished 960 miles - so go ahead, have the audacity to plan the seemingly impossible and do it.)
Now, this year as I look at the 1000 miles ahead of me I know much more and yet there are still mysteries. The landscape is still an unknown as no map, guide book or even photograph can truly tell you how it will be. Hikers I met last year did promise there is more of a trail and less of a rock scramble and according to some I have completed some of the most difficult sections. Bringing last year's knowledge and experience to this years planning session made a few things faster but I need to check back over the details and paw across the maps, data source and guide books. The largest change over last year's planning session is that this year has involved A.W.O.L's The A.T. Guide as my primary source. I have drafted out the daily plan, a few zeros, and casted about for appropriate mail drop locations. Along the way I figured out that I should be able to (easily?) cover the 1000 miles even with a few zero days in less than 3 months.
More details on that process later, but I am wondering how do you plan out your long distance hikes? What is important information to you to have in your back pocket as you plan?
Been sitting at the dining room table which I have taken over as my 'desk' for a bit working on THE plan for the "Heading to Georgia" or "Another 1000 miles Trek." But before I get too far into that thought I would post my own little 'State of the Calendar' report.
If you read the back of the calendar, I'll wait while you find yours.
(What calendar? The Walking to Maine one. If you didn't get one but meant to, do let me know and we will work out something so you can appreciate January's picture before moving on to February.)
But if you turn it over you will notice it states clearly A) it is a fundraising calendar and B) I am not good at fundraising just for me. 1/2 dollar from each calendar went to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Green Mountain Club and the Barry Kelly Ruth Nichols Hope Scholarship. So from each one sold in 2015, $1.50 went else where. Money has been delivered to the ATC & GMC, I am still in conversation about how to best get funds to the Barry Kelly Ruth Nichols Hope Scholarship.
Hiking through PA I got advice from 'Bag of Tricks' a Trail Angel who believed in giving back. Among other gems was this one that stuck with me. "Give back, however you can after you finish give something back to keep the Trail going." His idea was rather than complaining about a section of the Trail that frustrated you, figure out what you could do to make it better for those you came after you. In one way this explains why sending funds to the ATC as the overarching conservation group makes sense. The mud of southern Vermont and the difficulties with the Trail south of highway 9 explains why I sent money to GMC which cares for the Long Trail. ( Don't worry I included a letter which clearly let them know my frustrations with the mud pit aka Trail.)
The Barry Kelly Ruth Nichols Hope Scholarship, a scholarship awarded each year, to an A.R.H.S. student who's life has been affected by cancer, might be more difficult to explain but you see Ruth was family. She was an amazing musician, music teacher, great mom, and inspiring. The last time I had saw Jonathan and Ruth, they were talking about their plans after retirement, the coming adventures. Her death as well as the deaths of two friends I considered mentors convinced me last year that not everyone gets to go on adventures when the time is right.
Sometimes you pick up the calendar and make it right for you.