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  1. #1
    Registered User sonic's Avatar
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    Default To Flip Flop or Not

    Just learned I can't get out of work (or choose not to) until the first of May. Now, decision time. Do I do a flip-flop and start "somewhere" the middle of May or do I wait a few more weeks and SOBO? If I do a flip, any suggestions on where to start? I rather like the idea of meeting up with thru-hikers so I don't necessarily want to start too far south and miss the fun. Probably the same reason I'd rather flip then SOBO. Any suggestions, ideas would be appreciated. I'm going solo, if that makes any difference in your response. Thanks

  2. #2
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    There will still be a number of thru hikers starting the beginning of May. Some will go straight NOBO, some will flip flop. Harpers Ferry is not as dramatic as Katahdin for a finish, but still a cool place to be. The train is right there too. Easy to do a flip flop from the middle of the trail, so to speak.

  3. #3
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    Tough call Sonic. I struggled with the same issue in 2009 and ultimately decided on a NOBO. I equated the thru hike to watching a movie. Just didn't make sense watching it from the middle then back to the beginning.

    BTW, you get extra points in my book going SOBO- it's a tough start for sure.

    Good luck whatever you decide.

  4. #4
    Registered User sonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spokes View Post
    Tough call Sonic. I struggled with the same issue in 2009 and ultimately decided on a NOBO. I equated the thru hike to watching a movie. Just didn't make sense watching it from the middle then back to the beginning.

    BTW, you get extra points in my book going SOBO- it's a tough start for sure.

    Good luck whatever you decide.
    Thanks. I had a friend that flipped and really felt the same way. He had a real let down feeling ending somewhere other than Katahdin. Going to take some thought, for sure.

  5. #5
    Registered User So Far's Avatar
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    I know i was in VA is May...a couple 4,000 footers u couldnt finish on...i would say to finish on Katahdin...no other way. However i would hate for u to rush and go NOBO.

  6. #6

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    Sonic:

    I used to think that 6 months was pretty much what I needed for a full thru-hike, but in retrospect, I took a whole lot more time off than I generally needed, and a lot of shorter lazy-ass days, too.

    Meaning 22-23 weeks is absolutely doable. I'd leave on 1 May and just head North, planning to finish in early to mid-October, and I bet you're fine.

    One advantage is you'll have better weather at the outset.......a lot of folks who start in Georgia in February or March end up having a lot of short days, half days, abbreviated days, unplanned or extra days off, etc. because of poor weather. They go into towns they hadn't planned on on, and end up staying much longer, too. Starting 1 May instead of 1 March means better weather so you'll probably have more "full" hiking days at the beginning of your trip.

    One thing to keep in mind: Most folks take 34-38 days to get from Hanover NH to Katahdin. As you get close to New Hampshire figure out if you're gonna get to Hanover by September 12th-15th. If not, you may, repeat MAY want think about flipping, or perhaps skipping a week or two in the mid-Atlantic area and coming back to fill it in later. But I bet this isn't necessary. I'd just start in early May, head North with discipline and a good attitude, and you should be done by or before 15 October.

  7. #7

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    It depends on whether you really want to push yourself in order to finish before Katahdin is closed. You have time to finish the trail with a May start, but you won't be able to have a leisurely hike or one with many days off. If you start the trail in good shape (i.e. able to do 15 mile days) then you should be okay. You're not likely to have snow problems that take you off trail - so you shouldn't need a lot of time off trail at the beginning.

    What you could do is start the trail in GA and head north, then if you are not going as fast as you expected, you could flip north. Alternately, wait another six weeks and do a SOBO hike.

  8. #8
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Not that its better than bigK, but I always thought that ending at the Archway at Amicalola would be nice - perhaps to a little fanfare? I know its not the actual end of the trail, but you could have your own little personal party on Springer (whatever you might have done on K) and then hike down to some folks waiting for you who can give you a coke and take you to the Beef and Brew! You can pass folks along the way who think they are being adventurous going to see the falls, who will ask you if you hiked up with the pack, to which you can say, "no, I brought it down with me from Maine."

    You could get in the flow wherever that is when you're ready, then hike south from that point after you do K. Don't you think that maybe that might help a little bit with regard to the letdown after K?
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  9. #9
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    Look at it this way--

    If you finish at Katahdin your celebratory meal will likely be fresh Maine lobster.

    If it's Springer you'll dine on Georgia BBQ.

  10. #10
    Registered User sonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    Not that its better than bigK, but I always thought that ending at the Archway at Amicalola would be nice - perhaps to a little fanfare? I know its not the actual end of the trail, but you could have your own little personal party on Springer (whatever you might have done on K) and then hike down to some folks waiting for you who can give you a coke and take you to the Beef and Brew! You can pass folks along the way who think they are being adventurous going to see the falls, who will ask you if you hiked up with the pack, to which you can say, "no, I brought it down with me from Maine."

    You could get in the flow wherever that is when you're ready, then hike south from that point after you do K. Don't you think that maybe that might help a little bit with regard to the letdown after K?
    I like the sounds of this. Thanks.

  11. #11
    Registered User sonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spokes View Post
    Look at it this way--

    If you finish at Katahdin your celebratory meal will likely be fresh Maine lobster.

    If it's Springer you'll dine on Georgia BBQ.
    You just made my decision even harder!!

  12. #12
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    you really have no "bad options" but knowing what I know now and given your choices I would prefer to SOBO. I like the idea of starting with other thru-hikers and building relationships with others who will be moving at "beginner's speed". I really enjoyed meeting people in Ga. then seeing them again in Va. and Mass. etc. throughout the hike.If you start in May at say Pearisburg everyone else will have their trail legs by then. Of course you are never alone and there will always be new groups of hikers to hike with, even if it's just for a couple of days. It is tough hiking in Southern Maine and northern NH as others have said but your first 150 miles or so after Mt K aren't that bad. Somehow the idea of reaching either Springer or Katadin and then going somewhere else to finish may be a bit of a let down but at the end of the day IT IS still hiking the trail. Have fun no matter how you do your hike!

  13. #13
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    Why choose? Start at Harper's Ferry hiking north in May, hit Katahdin, then flip south and go sobo to Springer. You get two places to "finish."
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  14. #14

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    do trail days in Damascus and then hike north. You'll have the hiker spirit and lots of company.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    Why choose? Start at Harper's Ferry hiking north in May, hit Katahdin, then flip south and go sobo to Springer. You get two places to "finish."
    The cat is right. If you start at Harper's in mid May you will be right along with the early NOBO's Enjoy your hike enjoy the comradity. Hit Katahdin late Aug. early Sept.get your picture taken hooray ya dun it. Have a lobster head back to Harper's Head south through some of the prettiest country to hike in in the fall and the weather is still warm enough and there will still be plenty of SOBO's to hike with finish at Springer Hooray ya dun it again. Get your picture taken again and have the BBQ.
    I have already figured if I get the chance to do a thru Thats my plan.
    Alcohol was involved!

  16. #16

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    southbound. its the right way.
    sleep knowing you are a southbounder.

    matthewski has spoken so shall it be.
    matthewski

  17. #17

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    part of you needs reasons
    leave that part home.
    part of you needs hot chocolate
    take that part with you
    matthewski

  18. #18
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    Default Weighing in from Pennsylvania

    Unless you thrive on hot, humid weather, don't hike Pennsylvania in Summer. It's only more of the same and drier until Fall with occasional reprieves.

  19. #19
    aka -OvertheEdge- :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mweinstone View Post
    part of you needs reasons
    leave that part home.
    part of you needs hot chocolate
    take that part with you
    Damn Matty that was good I'm going to stash that with Shakespeare and Twain.
    Alcohol was involved!

  20. #20
    aka -OvertheEdge- :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    Unless you thrive on hot, humid weather, don't hike Pennsylvania in Summer. It's only more of the same and drier until Fall with occasional reprieves.
    Get thru it late May early June and should be great Of course it is better in the fall but I think everything is better in the fall.
    Alcohol was involved!

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