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KingGator and Sons

Appalachian Trail Journal Entry #11 - My first snag requires a tough decision!

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Today has been a wonderful day for the most part in terms of preparing for the upcoming thru-hike with my two boys. However, we did get some news that shakes things up a little bit. Unfortunately, the State of Florida may not be doing their FCAT test for the school year until April 15, 2013. What does that mean? Despite making straight A's all school year, they must take this test in order to move on to the next grade, even though they are schooling from their computers. This COULD mean that I have to push this until either mid April. I am not sure. I am going to continue talking with the State of Florida to see if there is a way to handle this differently.

If we have to wait until April, I may be forced with a tough decision. That decision will be either to continue with my plan to go NORTH BOUND, or I may need to go South Bound in order to not be shut out of the mountain in October when the deadline hits. If the summit closes up October 15th or so and I do not leave until April 15-20, that doesn't give me a whole lot of time. Granted, this is only a month later than I was going to originally start, but it also only gives me 6 months to get this TREK done. With us being beginners and two of us being children, that may be truly pushing it. It would really suck to get all the way to the end and miss the opportunity to summit.

What do you guys think? What should I do? If I have to wait until mid April, should I just go south bound? The problem with that is that all the hardest parts of the Appalachian Trail are in Maine so it seems. Would it be wise to START OFF with that being inexperienced? Should we go ahead and go North Bound and just risk it, or should we go South?



  1. Steve Jennette's Avatar
    Go to the ATC web site King. They discuss all types of thru hikes. One version (called "cool breeze" for reasons I do not know) has you start in at PA/NJ line and go south to Harpers Ferry VA, then shuttle back to NJ and go north and summit Mt K in Aug or so, then shuttle back to Harper's Ferry and finish going south to Springer Mt. My son has done a lot of AT miles, and a thru-hike, and reports that the black flies will drive you crazy in VT-Maine any time before a July start for a SOBO. Lots of options. Tell your sons that Shakespeare never graduated from high school. .
  2. KingGator and Sons's Avatar
    Thanks bro! I love the Shakespeare comment. It is true as it gets too. I think people put way too much stock in the education system as it is. Most of the time, kids do not learn ANYTHING about life at school.
  3. Teacher & Snacktime's Avatar
    Stay with the NOBO....Maine is the most difficult and not the place to start if you have no hiking experience. Don't I sound like the voice of experience? I'm not....I'm new myself, and know that Katahdin is not the way to start, it's the way to finish. The boys will be at the required pace to finish even with an April start in no time...it's likely you'll be holding them back. The simple solution is to try and see how you progress. If you get to say, Harper's Ferry, and know you're too far behind you can always flip-flop. By that time you'll be in great shape for Katahdin, and you can use the Pine Grove Furnace marker (and ice cream challenge) as your finishing marker and reward. Give yourselves a chance.
  4. Slo-go'en's Avatar
    Baxter SP doesn't open until at least May 15th. It may not be possible to climb Kathadin until later still depending on conditions. Maine has gotten a LOTof snow this season, so it might be later. Typcially it is not possible (or safe) to start a SOBO until at least June 1st. So, if you don't start in April, you'll have to wait until June and then you won't finish until December. Not good.

    Therefore, start when you can NOBO and later if it looks like you might not get to Maine in time, do a flip. If your still on the trail at the end of August, that would be a good time to flip unless your really close.