The Appalachian Trail Takes its Toll on Our Lone Hiker – Read the Latest Update Here

Tackling the Appalachian Trail is a daunting task, especially alone. And as we find out in this week’s update, it takes its toll. 

Going by the trail name Colorado, a friend of our esteemed publisher is tackling the length of the Appalachian trail, from north to south. The trail begins in Maine and terminates in the Great Smoky Mountains of Georgia, a distance of about 2,200 miles. It usually takes hikers five to seven months to complete the journey.

SEE ALSO: Colorado’s 12th Trail Update

Read Colorado’s latest update below:

Well, this is a tough update to send out, so I will keep it short.  My journey has come to an unexpected and abrupt interruption.  I was never able to return to the trail after reaching Pearisburg, VA, from where I wrote my previous update.

My intestinal ailment, which I had mentioned before, continued unabated for about 12 days, zapping my energy and sucking more weight off my bones in the process.  I tried to wait it out in Virginia, each day hoping I would turn the corner and feel better.  Various lab tests could not pinpoint the cause.  Giardia, which I had initially suspected, was ruled out.  Thankfully, the doctor I was seeing was finally able to provide a definitive, comprehensive and conclusive diagnosis:  “Probably a virus of some sort.”  Who knows?  But I ultimately decided the waiting game was too open-ended, and therefore it was time to get back home.  At least, for now.

Was this decision hard to make?  Not really.  I was not improving while waiting things out in Virginia, and although I’m feeling much better as of today, I am still really in no condition to get back on the trail.  So I was ready to come home and recuperate.  Was it disappointing to reach that point?  Absolutely, given how well the entire trip had been going.  I had had no injuries or other problems, had met great people both on and off the trail, and had taken opportunities to see other interesting sights along the way such as Gettysburg, West Point, Dartmouth College, and Washington DC.  In short, in spite of two hurricanes and the unusual amount of rain and fog this year, I thoroughly enjoyed virtually every day out there, especially when Rocky was with me.  It all went better than I could have imagined, and it was a joy to put in long days with everything dialed in and then be excited to get up each morning and do it again.

Just the facts, ma’am:

  • 1,554 – miles hiked from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Pearisburg, Virginia, about 71% of the AT.

  • 637 – miles remaining to reach Springer Mountian, Georgia.

  • 134 – days I was on this adventure.  Twenty of those days were “zero” days, days I did not hike.

  • 23.5 – miles covered on my longest day.

  • 13.6 – average miles per hiking day.  My daily average started out lower in Maine and New Hampshire, due to the tough trail and elevation gains there, but gradually rose the further south I hiked.

  • 12 – pounds lost over the course of the trip.  I also lost six toenails.  My waist size decreased 2 inches, so I have a lot of pants that don’t fit me right now.

  • 6 – number of bears encountered along the way.  I never had an issue with my food, which I diligently protected every night by hanging it or keeping it in a bear box if available.

  • 2 – number of haircuts during the journey.  The second one, in Washington DC in mid-September, was cheap but a true butcher job, and I’m still recovering from the emotional trauma.

  • 1 – pair of boots retired after about 900 miles.  I have about 600 miles on my second pair, which are still holding up pretty well.

  • 23 – my estimate of the number of jars of peanut butter I consumed.

  • 150 – my estimate of the number of packets of oatmeal I consumed.  Variety is the spice of life.

  • Late 20’s – my guess as to the overall average age of hikers on the AT.

  • 90% – my guess as to the percentage of hikers sporting tattoos.

  • 0 – number of what I would consider bad experiences during the journey.  The trail was good to me and I have no regrets.

Thanks so much to everyone for following this adventure – for your interest, encouragement, comments, prayers – these were all elements that made this hike a daily success for me.

While finishing the trail in 2018 is not in the cards, next spring is not that far off.  And the good news is that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy considers a successful thru-hike to be completion of the entire trail in a 12-month period.  So let’s see:  I started on May 30 this year…I have a little over 600 miles to go…I figure about 100 miles per week…If I start around April 1, 2019, and even if it takes me, say, 8 weeks to finish…and if everyone hangs in there with me…
…to be continued…