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Tomorrow I’ll be setting off on a section hike of the Massachusetts portion of the Appalachian Trail with my brother. This 91 mile hike will be the first time since the summer of 2012 that I’ve been on the AT. That summer I joined my brother on his through hike, section hiking southern Virginia, through the Shennies into Harper’s Ferry accumulating about 300 miles of trail. Now, I’ve decided to pursue a section hike of the entire AT, doing bits and pieces over the summer breaks I have at the school where I teach.

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From my 2012 section hike in VA & WV (Photo by Jonathan Welch)

In order to receive the 2,000 miler listing and badge, I only need to fill at an application through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at the completion of the hike, it doesn’t matter if the hike is a 6 month thru-hike or 6 year section hike. With my trail name Babysteps it only seems fitting to tackle this challenge piece by piece, and ultimately feels more enjoyable as well.

By the time July 4th rolls around I’ll have about 400 miles done, which isn’t a bad start! I’m excited to take this trail slow and really appreciate each area. Section hiking gives me the ability to wander down side trails, pack heavier with a few more camping luxuries, and take my time without being concerned for the change of seasons and geography. While the endurance challenge that is thru-hiking certainly interests me, right now dedicating that kind of time and money simply isn’t feasible, so I’ll take it in baby steps and enjoy one or two states at a time.

As I work on getting my trail legs back, my brother and I are going to be documenting the favorite candy of hikers we meet. Hitting Massachusetts at the end of June means that the AT will be a, “hiker highway,” as my brother Jon says, of both Northbound and Southbound thru-hikers. While I’m not sure I’ll have the time to post blog updates, chances are I’ll write one big retrospective piece, you can follow along with interviews and hikes on Twitter and Instagram using #ATSweetTooth and following our accounts:

Twitter: @DonnieWelchPoet & @JDWfoto

Instagram: @dwelch3 & @jdwfoto

 

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