Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes some of the best hiking gear on the market and they are headquartered in my home town of Biddeford Maine. I will be contributing to their blog during my SOBO AT hike and providing feedback on some new prototypes they have been working on.
Use code ZBAT15 to save 15% off any of their excellent backpacks while supporting a small local Maine company. I highly recommend the Windrider 3400 which is the pack I am currently using on the AT but they make something for just about any hiker or outdoor explorer.
I am glad you made it because I have some things I really wanted to show you.
Soon I will embark on my southbound Appalachian Trail thru hike (SOBO AT) starting at the top of Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park. A lot of steps and turns have lead to this junction and I plan to put my best foot forward while sharing the experience with you.
Quitting a secure job to live out of a backpack in the woods was a major life decision that came with many restless nights but the endless sense of wonder for a pilgrimage along the Appalachian Trail has been with me since childhood. I hiked with my family as a kid but it was through my twenties when I steady gained more drive to get out and summit the mountains of Maine.
A typical day hiker, my passion for the higher summits accelerated last summer during pandemic shutdowns of 2020. With most social events cancelled and normal activities stifled I decided to get outdoors by hiking the Maine 4000 footers. That goal only took a month and a half to complete so I then turned my sights on the New Hampshire 4000 footers.
Through the winter and spring as the list dwindled down the dream of the AT began taking over. As summer grew near I knew my only option for this year was to hike southbound. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy states that, “ Extremely difficult terrain to start. A southbounder or “SOBO” begins with the hardest part of the Trail first. Unlike starting in other more moderate sections of the Trail, you do not have a chance to get your trail legs under you before hitting the steepest mountains.”
Unsure if my body was ready for the heavy weight of a pack and extended miles needed to finish a thru hike I began to hike with my large overnight bag loaded with everything needed to survive in the woods. These hikes averaged from 17 miles carrying 27 lbs on my back but even with one day spent hiking through 5 hours of rain I kept wanting more.
Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the band TOOL, penned the lyrics that have stuck with me and continue be a driving mantra, “Spiral out, Keep going!” I believe in pushing yourself to learn and grow because that is what makes this life worth living.