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04-11-2005, 00:40
600 Miles and Counting!

by Michael J. Karaman (Kerosene)

It all began during spring break from high school in April of 1973. Little did I know that it would turn into an obsession. Since then Iíve managed to tally 856 miles in outings ranging from 10 to 115 miles in length, from Shenendoah National Park to New Hampshire. While I have tackled a few other trails over that time (notably the Long Trail), I keep returning to the rhythms of the A.T. even after taking a 10-year break to start a family.

Scouting is to blame - specifically the Hiking and Pioneering merit badges. Two of my 15-year old scouting buddies and I felt we had enough experience under our belt to tackle the New Jersey section, and somehow we talked our parents into letting us go. We planned the trip for six months, yet we found we still had a lot to learn. Basics such as why wrapping yourself in your plastic groundcloth doesnít keep your cotton sleeping bag from getting wet, or what freeze-dried food does to your gastrointestinal fortitude, or how the lean-to is never around the next bend, or even what deer sound like as theyíre bedding down (I never knew deer could make those kinds of sounds).

All in all, the weather that week and the New Jersey Trail conditions provided an easy introduction to what I later found out can be a pretty rigorous endeavor. Spring breaks were dedicated to the Trail for the next three years as we took on northeastern Pennsylvania and Massachusetts/Connecticut. Ed Garvey was our guide and the A.T. Mileage Book our primary reference tool.

The rocks of Pennsylvania are all theyíre cracked up to be. Iíve always found it interesting that even well-conditioned thru-hikers complain. We risked the hills of Massachusetts and Connecticut in late March, slogging through knee-high snow on the northern slopes and scrambling over an ice-covered Trail in Sages Ravine. Over time I became increasingly confident in my abilities, to the point where I trained my mom and future wife to accompany me on 1-2 week jaunts. Iím in the process of grooming my pre-teen daughter now.

During college I was able to time summer hikes to intercept thru-hikers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Vermont, relishing in their experiences.

My brother and I walked Shenendoah National Park in 1987, but heís been occupied with his burgeoning family since then. A few years ago I realized that I was getting to the age where I needed to get serious if I was to achieve my life-long goal of hiking the entire AT. I finally convinced a Michigan friend to hike eastern Vermont/western New Hampshire which triggered a yearning to get out at least annually. Iíll be done in about 20 years at this rate, which is why itís so encouraging to read about retirees hitting the Trail.

Despite the aggravations of travel arrangements, section hiking seems to fit my personality and lifestyle better. After aborting a solo 5-week hike through Vermont and New Hampshire in 1976, I realized that I prefer 1-2 week stints shared with a hiking companion. My career makes anything longer difficult to accommodate anyway, but I found that I need to re-connect with civilization periodically. My trail log has allowed me to keep each hiking day fresh in my memory.

Michael Karaman (Kerosene) manages software development for a healthcare information company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His intensive soccer regimen will hopefully make those A.T. hills a little lower.

Kerosene
04-11-2005, 11:08
I originally wrote this for submission to ATN Reflections section in early 2002, but missed the deadline. As of the end of 2004 I've completed a little more than half of the AT, including Georgia plus everything from Catawba, Virginia north to Glencliff, New Hampshire. I hope to get Catawba south to Atkins done in June of this year, and then maybe the Whites in September if I'm lucky.

mamamiapdx
10-11-2012, 22:22
Congratz, keep it going.

Big Dawg
10-12-2012, 00:37
Awesome stuff Kerosene! My upcoming November hike will put me over 800 miles,,, but so many more to go. That's ok,, I love my yearly sections, and one day it'll be complete. Then on to other long trails!

moytoy
10-12-2012, 05:59
Congratz, keep it going.
Puts a whole new perspective on the 'what's new' button.

Kerosene
10-12-2012, 11:15
I had forgotten about this (it's only been 7 years since I posted it).

Last month I covered the Pinkham Notch to Rangeley section, giving me only 220.4 miles to go. I've been able to get out every year since 2000, but some years have covered few miles due to work demands, relocation, family pressures, aging knees, and hiking with my daughter. I was hoping to finish up next Fall, but now it looks like 2014 or 2015. It has been fun, although I'm ready to check out some new trails on my ever-expanding bucket list.

jbwood5
12-04-2012, 16:24
Interesting story. I've been doing a similar thing, although not spread out as far. I started in 1999 and would use my 2-3 week yearly vacation from work to section N from GA. Due to job loss in 2004 and other committments (and lack of funds), I did not continue where I left off in 2004 until this year when I covered the rest of MA and about 3/4 of VT this past Summer. I've got less than 500 miles to go. You will almost certainly finish before me.
Age (and injury) has taken a little toll with me too and this year I was about the slowest hiker on the trail doing the MA-VT section.
We're looking forward to the continuing story. :)

Just John
Seminole, FL

earlyriser26
12-04-2012, 16:45
I retire at year end and am over 1,400 miles starting in 1969. South all done and most of ME. Working on PA now and a little in MD. Attempting to set a record for the longest hike? Keep going.

blackwater slim
01-02-2013, 23:22
Everybody keep up the good work! Curious question my buddy and I debate. Lets say you got this coming season open to do a through hike. Would you repeat what you have done to do it in one chunk OR would you pick up where you left off? We have sectioned 179+ miles on 4 trips. Only two weeks repeated for us. Just a curious question to think about. thanks

Old Hiker
01-03-2013, 10:12
Everybody keep up the good work! Curious question my buddy and I debate. Lets say you got this coming season open to do a through hike. Would you repeat what you have done to do it in one chunk OR would you pick up where you left off? We have sectioned 179+ miles on 4 trips. Only two weeks repeated for us. Just a curious question to think about. thanks

If I had time for a complete thru, I'd start at the beginning. TO ME: a thru is end to end in one season. I had 500 miles in. I'm going to start again at Springer in 2016 and try another thru.

If I only had a week or two, I'd pick up at where I left off and continue north, just to see what's there, water sources, etc.

LadyJacket
01-05-2013, 08:29
I did 800 miles, GA-NC and flipped to ME and part of NH until Hurricane Irene came through two years ago. I had knee surgery last year. I hope to start back up in NC where I left off and head North this spring. I am at an age where I just have to take things as they come.
Start back where you left off and enjoy the journey. Maybe we will cross paths someday! Keep on keeping on!

58starter
01-05-2013, 20:54
I started Hiking the At at age 58 (58Starter) I will be 62 in March. I only have 340 miles hiked so far. I will tackle ElkPark, NC to Damascus the end of March this year. Hope to get a few more sections in also in the rest of 2013

Hussy02
02-07-2013, 07:14
Oh thats Good ....

JAK
02-07-2013, 08:39
I'm trying to jump-start my daughter and myself back into hiking and paddling this coming March break.
Articles like this are inspiring, actually more inspiring in a way than hiking the whole thing in one go.

Lyle
02-07-2013, 09:24
Everybody keep up the good work! Curious question my buddy and I debate. Lets say you got this coming season open to do a through hike. Would you repeat what you have done to do it in one chunk OR would you pick up where you left off? We have sectioned 179+ miles on 4 trips. Only two weeks repeated for us. Just a curious question to think about. thanks

Definitely not at this point, I only have about 700 miles left to go on the AT. If I were less than 500 miles into it, perhaps.

Too many other great trails that need my attention to do major repeats. Not that an occasional second (third or fourth) trip on a particular section is out of the question, just not a complete hike.

jbwood5
07-30-2013, 14:33
Interesting story. I've been doing a similar thing, although not spread out as far. I started in 1999 and would use my 2-3 week yearly vacation from work to section N from GA. Due to job loss in 2004 and other committments (and lack of funds), I did not continue where I left off in 2004 until this year when I covered the rest of MA and about 3/4 of VT this past Summer. I've got less than 500 miles to go. You will almost certainly finish before me.
Age (and injury) has taken a little toll with me too and this year I was about the slowest hiker on the trail doing the MA-VT section.
We're looking forward to the continuing story. :)

Just John
Seminole, FL

Responding to my post from last year... I just completed Killington, VT to the Madison Springs Hut in the Presidentials (bailed out to the road below). I haven't figured it out yet but I may have less than 400 to go. The Whites are very tough on an old man with aching knees, but I had awesome weather in the Presidential range. That was not the case in late June/early July through the Vermont section and the first part of NH. Lots of rain and humidity.

Just John
Seminole, FL

jbwood5
08-03-2014, 19:32
Responding to my post from last year... I just completed Killington, VT to the Madison Springs Hut in the Presidentials (bailed out to the road below). I haven't figured it out yet but I may have less than 400 to go. The Whites are very tough on an old man with aching knees, but I had awesome weather in the Presidential range. That was not the case in late June/early July through the Vermont section and the first part of NH. Lots of rain and humidity.

Just John
Seminole, FL


Last month I managed to continue N bound, hiking from Madison Springs hut up to ME 4 (Rangely area). I really wanted to go further, like up to the Kennebec River, but my knees suffered badly through this rough section which included the Mahoosuc Notch and Arm. I actually slacked the last 26 miles in 2 days (South Arm to Rt 17 and Rt 17 to Rt 4). This was the first year of all my years that I had some support (i.e. slacking with a day pack). Also, I had a hiking partner for the first 4 days which was great since she and her daughter helped relocate my vehicle to Grafton Notch SP. I had a vehicle to drive to Bethel for re-supply, clean-up, and a room for the night.

Age related body deterioration has definitely taken hold and I'm probably looking at at least 2 years to finish up. I will say, the section of trail this year was the toughest I've done so far. Rainman's photos did a pretty good job of telling the story, so I knew exactly what I was in for. Thanks Rainman. We had really good weather through most of July this year and I had no problems in the remainder of the Whites or through the other numerous mountain peaks along the way. I think I only did about 107 AT miles this year; one of my lowest mileage yearly treks since I started.

In any case, the hike was awesome and on one of the most spectacular sections of the trail.

Just John
Seminole, FL