Monday, 8 April 2013

NOBO Hobo?

Benton McKaye's original concept for a trail along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains was to have a nature reserve available for city dwellers living adjacent the trail where they could escape their routine on weekends.  He envisioned they would hike a section of the trail, spend the night in a shelter, and then return home rejuvenated.  But after WWII a returning serviceman, Earl Shaffer, hiked the whole trail which brought it to the public's attention and thru-hiking was born.

One of the big decisions is which direction to hike.  The majority begin in the south and "walk with spring" northbound.  They're called NOBOs.  But if you wait until most of the black flies are out of the Maine woods and begin late June or early July, you can hike SOBO and avoid most if not all the snow and cold.

Some hikers begin later in the season to avoid the spring snows in northern Georgia and along the Tennessee/North Carolina border.  Since they won't have enough time to finish on Katahdin before the peak is closed for the winter, they do a "flip flop" hike. Once they reach Harper's Ferry, the half way point, they leave the trail, travel to Maine and then hike hike south back to Harper's Ferry, completing their "thru".

And those with lots of stamina, time and money sometimes do a "yo-yo"  They will hike NOBO from Springer to Katahdin, turn right around and hike SOBO all the way back to Springer.   Two thru-hikes in 12 months!

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