Like most of the people in the Philadelphia area, I cried like a small child when the Eagles won the Super Bowl a few weeks back.  I love the coming of baseball season, I live and die with the Flyers, and I most definitely “Trust the Process.”

But the season I look most forward to is more brutal that football, tougher than ice hockey, longer than baseball season, and requires as much trust as the 76ers need… it’s Appalachian Trail thru hiking season!  Because, I have a pretty bad obsession with backpacking in general and Appalachian Trail thru-hiking in particular.

Every March, thousands of men and women set off from Springer Mountain with one goal in mind – reaching Mt. Katahdin in Maine 2,175 miles north.  In a good year, 1/4 of them will make that goal, joining the elite club that is the AT Thru-Hikers.

Sadly, this blog manages to somehow not win the lottery year after year (buying a ticket once in a while might help this process), and thus has not managed to thru hike ourselves yet.  As a next-best-thing, each year this esteemed blog has followed a few thru hikers on their epic adventure.  This year, we’re following just one, and we couldn’t be more excited.  That’s because one of our own is leaving tomorrow, March 4th, to make the attempt – Dan Smith.

If Dan looks familiar, it’s because he’s a frequent accomplice in our canoeing and hiking adventures.  He also a moderator in our Facebook group and our secret tech help when I manage to confuse myself too badly with this website.

He’s also the Scout who dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of backpacking seven years ago, and since then we’ve shared many miles of backpacking together, from South Jersey to Washington State.

Olympic National Park.

Tomorrow morning, Dan takes his 17 pound pack (with straps trimmed and, I’m sure, toothbrush handle sawed off), gets a lift up the dirt road leading into the mountains, and sets off from Springer Mountain for his first day on the trail, a 16 mile adventure that will be the first day of months and months of adventure.

View from his hotel room… he’ll be out there tomorrow.

We hope to meet up on the trail with Dan at least a few times, might have a few updates, and will try really, really (really really) hard not to text him more than 36 times a day.

In the meantime, good luck and have a great time Dan!



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