A Mask in the Woods: 2021 Plan

Just a few months ago, Henry and I trudged through a beaver dam, rain, and steep Pennsylvania inclines towards Green Point School Road AT Access. The last 16 miles of our Appalachian Trail adventure was some of the most miserable walking we had done all summer. And yet, we are starting to plan our 2021 adventure.

The other day, out of the blue, Henry said, “You know – I’m not dreading hiking again.” This caught my attention – I had been somewhat avoiding bringing up the topic of hiking again out of trepidation that my husband was not looking forward to it. “Don’t get me wrong,” he continued. “I’m not, like, excited for it. But I’m not dreading it.”

Folks – I will take it. Am I giddy with joy at the thought of trudging through mud or balancing across ankle breaking ridges? Am I excited about sleeping outdoors and waking to every little rustling noise that might be a bear? No, I am not. What I am looking forward to is getting a little closer to completing a huge goal, staying in shape enough to eat as many chocolate chip scones as I want, and yes, breathing in a little more fresh air.

I’ve had a lot of outdoors groups follow this blog over the winter, and I was feeling bad that it hadn’t been updated since November, so I thought of a couple ideas to start the 2021 season of hiking. People who read last summer’s posts will remember that my husband and I started hiking the AT during quarantine because it was geographically close to us, it got us out of the house in a safe way, it was healthy exercise, and it was good for our egos (we’re hikers! look at us!). We started in Harper’s Ferry, made it all the way through Maryland (yep – all 40 miles on a 2190 miles trek), and worked our way into Pennsylvania. According to our last blog, we’ve completed a whopping 7.4% of the whole trail. We only hiked one day a weekend for about every weekend from July to November, covering 161 miles. It got to the point at the end where we were driving three hours one way to reach the trailhead, which is why this summer we have to do things differently.

The trail is getting too far away to do day hikes, and I have convinced myself we need to end the whole trail in Harper’s Ferry – so we can’t now start going south. That leaves us with multi-day hikes. As a teacher, I have a lot of flexibility with what I can do in the summer, and Henry is lucky enough to be in a job that lets him be flexible too. So we are looking at a few 3-5 day hikes throughout the summer.

People are advised not to start backpacking in Pennsylvania until June, late May at the earliest. While originally I had planned a few hikes for May, I think we are now going to start in June. It will take three three-day weekends with about 40 miles apiece to get through Pennsylvania. With one more 5-day hike, we could traverse the whole New Jersey section of the trail – completing two states this summer. We have a lot of family travel planned for the summer, and I doubt we will be able to cover more than those four trips. We also have a basset/beagle mix at home named Luna, who is going to be pretty miffed at this whole “spending the summer at the kennel” idea.

So that’s the plan: the rest of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If we get that completed, we’ll be 16% done with the whole trail.

Upcoming posts are going to talk gear, and specifically what we as newbies to all this got and how our tests of the equipment go. A problem we have yet to solve is how do people deal with cars while on the AT – what do we do about parking while we’re gone multiple days at a time?

Miles Completed161.4
Miles to Go2082.6
Percentage Complete7.4%
Copied over from our last post 🙂

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