Sunday, January 27, 2013


A pair of three-day weekends, one expected (MLK Day) and one unexpected (Friday’s school closing) punctuated these past two weeks. Although not yet 100%, I’m happy to say that my knee allowed me to get out and take advantage of the extra days off from work.

Click for a panorama from Pilot Mountain.

First was an enjoyable family outing to the summit of Pilot Mountain followed by an abbreviated Plutonathon run last weekend with Brandon. Uwharrie and I braved the ice on our local Bracken Mtn. trails this Friday before riding out east Saturday morning for the delayed start of the 5th annual Sultan 50K.

This out-and-back traverse of the South Mountains is a deceptively good workout. It also boasts some incredible scenery, especially this year with the snow and expansive panoramas overlooking valleys blanketed in low morning clouds. But it’s always the smiles from family and friends that marks this run as a highlight for the year. Happy birthday, Sultan.

Click for a panorama from Sultan 50K.

Speaking of birthdays, I plan to purchase a copy of the AT Guide for myself as a b-day gift, but the question is: which version? In other words, I've recently been rethinking the direction in which to hike the Appalachian Trail this summer. Weighing the pros/cons, I came up with this:

+Less driving to start
+Earlier start date
+More familiar
+Less bugs in ME?
+Conditioned for ME?

-At the mercy of Pamola?
-Tired by Maine?

+Finish hard stuff first
+Newer experience

-More driving to start
-More bugs in ME?

So, NOBO is currently winning out, but I’m open to feedback in case there’s something I (probably) missed. Whether SOBO or NOBO, here are some stats of planning to date:

*Total number of maildrops along trail: 10
*Total number of resupply points along trail: 18
*Average time between resupply points: 3.3 days
*Average distance between resupply points: 121.5 miles
*Total off-trail distance to/from all 18 resupply points: 6.2 miles


Steve Pero said...

Looking forward to following you on your thru hike, Matt.
Isn't SOBO easier because it's all downhill? My wall map shows it is! ;-)

Andrew Moore said...

1. Overall temperature should be more pleasant as it will still be relatively cool down south when you start
2. You'll be looking forward to a 36 hour drive back home by the time you finish!

Looking forward to following along


JWW said...

What the timing of the AT? - June July I presume. I am partial to SOBO but June is buggy in ME. Walking home to family/friends is a huge bonus in my book. Pamola rules no matter which way you go. That 6.2 mile number is most surprising to me - speaks to the development along the trail in the 23 years since I did it.

Casseday said...


If I was going for speed, I'd go SOBO. Andrew and Jen both did in their record hikes. If you're on target or behind schedule when you get to NH, it will be harder to keep-up and almost impossible to make up time going NOBO (of course, I know nothing of Ward Leonard's hike). Hiking home seems far more inspirational to me.

I'm excited for you. No matter what direction you go, the adventure will be great! Good luck in the planning.

- Adam

mkirk said...

Thanks for the feedback guys. Definitely food for additional thought.

But Steve gets the award for strongest SOBO pro!

Steve Pero said...

Deb and I are planning to move back to NH someday and when we do, we're taking time off to hike home from GA ;-) All uphill!

Denise Davis said...

Glad your knee is improving! I always thought that if I did the AT I would do it SOBO because I would be walking home. And when I was at my tiredest, I would be on very familiar turf.