As fate would have it, I have the opportunity To be able to take a break from a stressful job and take a seven week sabbatical to go hike in the woods again. The timing is both good and bad. On the work front, most projects are complete or well on their way to completion. September is a good month to hike at higher elevations, out west, or up north, but not that great in Georgia. But I have decided to go back to Springer Mountain again and begin there and head northward.

The primary goal of this hike is to regain The fitness that has dwindled away after being stuck behind a desk for so long now. It will afford a mental break from technology, too, and cannot come soon enough after dealing with burnout for the better part of a year.

so I will start at Springer Mountain and head north. How far north? As far as I can get. My normal pace says I should be able to get to Shenandoah National Park, but only 100 miles further is Harpers Ferry. I will start out slow, try not to worry about the daylight shrinking quickly each day, and just make steady progress northward.

2020 is the year of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, and probably not the best year to hike, but I don’t have much choice. The trail is not closed, all agencies have the trail and trailheads open, most services along the trail are still open, and most importantly… the Smoky Mountain National Park is still issuing thru hiker permits. I have mine in hand and will see how the park has changed in the last thirty years since I have been there. The only adjustments I have made for Covid are not registering for a start date (they are not issuing them), bringing a larger bottle of hand sanitizer, and bringing a face mask for towns. I will not be staying in shelters and probably no hostels because I am bringing the hammock on this trip and can camp pretty much anywhere. My interactions in town will be limited to food, laundry, and showers, with very few overnight stays.

The gear I am bringing on this trip is pretty similar to past trips, but I am going a bit lighter this time. I am bringing a 35 liter pack instead of 62L which is one pound lighter, bringing a 30 degree down bag instead of 10 degree down or 40 degree synthetic, not bringing a water filter, and not bringing a full stove but will have my tiny alcohol stove. Fully loaded with 4 days of food but no water, the pack weighs 23 lbs instead of 30 or so, so I am digging that.