Monday, April 14, 2014

Northbound vs. Southbound on the GET

On most long-distance north-to-south trails, northbound has been the traditional direction to hike. That does not have to apply to the Great Eastern Trail.  The two biggest considerations are:
  1. When is your free time?  
  2. Do you want to tackle the most mentally-challenging section (the south) when you are fresh and enthusiastic?  Or do you want to tackle it when you are tired but experienced?  

For me, I really wanted to get the southern gaps out of the way, because I wasn't 100% sure that the trail could be successfully (or enjoyably) connected by foot.  As it turns out, linking the trail by foot is actually pretty easy with a couple small exceptions.  That being said, next time I want to hike southbound so I can experience Pennsylvania in particular when I am fresh and end where it all began.

So, for the next hikers, northbound or southbound?  Here is a summary of what you might consider:

Hiking northbound (presumably beginning in mid-spring)

On the bright side:
  • A meaningful mountain (Flagg) to mark your beginning
  • A gentle start (with shelters!) on the Alabama Pinhoti Trail
  • Relatively easy terrain throughout Georgia makes for faster miles and high morale
  • Chattanooga provides a needed rest prior to tackling the challenging Cumberland Trail
  • Reaching the halfway point in southern West Virginia and knowing that well over half the mental work is done
  • Reaching Pearisburg, Virginia where the rest of the trail (over 700 miles) is dependably blazed and/or (mostly "and") has really great guides
  • Greater feeling of trail cohesion as the trail heads north
  • Some tricky resupply points in Virginia and Pennsylvania, but at this point you've been hiking long enough so you should be able to figure it out without much of a problem 
  • Just a personal preference, but I was glad that I was heading UP the Thousand Steps
  • Hiking north, Pennsylvania becomes less rocky
  • A quiet finish to the hike with a shelter; a good place to take a day and reflect upon the journey
  • Significant road walking/unblazed route in Georgia and on the Alabama incursion which could be mentally challenging so early in the hike
  • Great guides available but not for the entire south - challenging gaps to figure out
  • The first outfitter on trail is in Chattanooga, a few hundred miles from Flagg Mountain
  • Significant roadwalking/linking of trail sections in Tennessee and on either end of Kentucky, still early-on in trip when you're figuring it all out.
  • Catoosa WMA may be closed, requiring additional planning
  • Potential for late-spring storms that could drop snow on higher elevations in Tennessee or Kentucky
  • Spring flooding in Bluestone WMA may make the recommended route impassable.
  • Challenging rocky sections of Pennsylvania when you're already exhausted 
  • Intense heat on very dry ridges of Pennsylvania 

Hiking southbound (presumably beginning in late summer)

On the bright side:
  • Beginning your hike at an intersection connecting 10,000 miles of hiking trails
  • Dependable blazing for the first 700ish miles - less thinking involved in the beginning
  • Reliable guides available for the first half of the hike
  • A gentle, rolling beginning through New York and northern Pennsylvania
  • Completing your first state in just a few days, which can be a big morale boost
  • Hitting the tough rocky sections of Pennsylvania when you're fresh (and not making big miles each day anyway)
  • First outfitter of the trail is in Wellsboro in northern Pennsylvania (about 100 miles into the journey); another is located in State College and there are shoes and socks available in Woolrich.  Pennsylvania has the most outfitters and they are more useful to southbound hikers who encounter troubles with gear they thought would work.
  • Challenges of the south (unblazed sections, roadwalks, areas without guides) may be easier to overcome with all the experience accumulated in the northern half of the trail - at any rate, you'll be too stubborn to give up once you've come that far!
  • Chattanooga is a welcome rest after one of the longest states on the trail
  • Ending your hike at the end of the Appalachians
  • Potentially tricky resupply points in Pennsylvania before you really settle into the trail
  • Some water sources flowing for northbounders probably would have dried up by late summer
  • Hunting season on several stretches of public land would have to be taken into consideration
  • Reaching Pearisburg, Virginia and knowing that you have the hardest part ahead of you and that you're not yet halfway done
  • Shorter hiking days on very challenging sections (night-hiking not recommended in many areas)
  • Potential for autumn storms that could drop snow on higher elevations
  • Significant roadwalking/linking of trail sections on either end of Kentucky, in Tennessee, in Georgia and on the Alabama incursion - these could be both physically and mentally challenging at a time when many hikers feel "done" with their journey already
Your mileage may vary, hike your own hike, and have fun no matter which way you go!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

GET Board Meeting

I was lucky to get the chance to attend the 2014 Great Eastern Trail Board Meeting near Corning, New York last weekend.  It was a reunion of wonderful people who made last year's hike possible.  The people on the left are those who make the GET happen.  I wish I could download their wisdom into my own brain.

Especially huge thanks to Pat, who not only retrieved me from the airport (and got me back there) but hosted the event at the lovely Watson Homestead. What a perfect weekend.

While out for a hike, we were able to visit the Great Eastern Trail rock.  I used to think people who hiked the same long trail twice were crazy, but I see wisdom in it now: both Bart and I walked past this rock on June 18, 2013 and didn't notice it.  I guess we were too excited to get to Moss Hill Lean To!  What else did we not see?  Maybe I'll get Bart to hike the GET with me again someday.  He already was silly enough to say yes once . . . .

There is lots of forward momentum on the GET.  I'm excited about all the discussions that took place last weekend and I look forward to watching this trail "grow up" and get better every year.

The morning before I flew back to Minnesota we all hiked to Moss Hill Lean To, the northern terminus of the GET.  It couldn't have been a more beautiful morning to be out and about.  While there, I got to see Strider's note in the register (North Country Trail thruhiker) and I left a note for current GET hikers Taylor and Gramps. 

But the highlight of the hike may have been finding the Pennsylvania rock that Bart carried to New York.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

AT vs. GET

GET or AT?
(Trick question!)

Many AT hikers have asked me how the GET compares.  Because this is such a common question, I made a whole page comparing the two trails.  If you're trying to decide between the two trails, this may help.  Look up at the tabs and you'll see it listed there.  Or you can click this.

Happy hiking!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Upcoming presentations in Minnesota

 As usual, I am up to no good!  The following presentations are happening in Minnesota:

Thursday, March 13 at 6:30pm - Hiking the Great Eastern Trail at Moose Lake Elementary School

Thursday, April 10 at 7:00pm - Introduction to Backpacking at Moose Lake Elementary School 

Thursday April 17 (apparently I like Thursdays) at 7:00pm - Hiking the Great Eastern Trail at Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. (Expedition Room)

Saturday, May 3, afternoon - Planning an Overnight on the Superior Hiking Trail &
Hiking the Great Eastern Trail at the Superior Hiking Trail Annual Meeting, Wolf Ridge ELC.

More news coming soon. . . including news about the next GET hiker heading to Flagg Mountain!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guides Page

I've been working on a list of resources that Bart and I used to hike the GET.  This list can now be found on the Guides Page.  It is still a work in progress, but it should help future hikers see what resources are available.  Feel free to contact me with additional links, corrections, etc.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The next thruhikers

Bart and I are amazed that it has been over a year since we set off on our journey.   There are two hikers about to set off on their own Great Eastern Trail adventure: Gramps and Taylor.  Hiking the Loop will showcase their experiences - check it out.  They leave on February 1.

Best of luck, Taylor and Gramps!  Your lives are about to change forever. :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Hi friends!  I've finally put together a slideshow about the places we saw on the hike.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Life since the trail

The northern terminus with a list of people who helped us along the way...
Hiking the Great Eastern Trail was a life-changing experience for both of us.

We are continually reminded of all the help we received and the friends we made along the way.  The people are what made this trip everything it could be, and we can never thank you enough for being part of the journey.

Since we finished the trail, Bart has started work as an athletic trainer and his team is having a great season.  Jo has been in Minnesota helping her parents with some projects and is doing a lot of writing.

We will be at ALDHA's The Gathering this weekend, presenting on our hike at 3PM on Saturday.  More information:

We hope our paths will cross with all of you in the near future.  Thanks to all, from the bottoms of our hearts and boot soles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

No we didn't walk back! Three wonderful people helped get us home. Pat Monahan from NY(no not the city) took us to Duncannon PA where we ate lunch at the famous Doyle Hotel with(thanks for lunch) Pete Fleszar who traveled us to Morgantown WV(not before dumping us out of his convertible to hike a section of the GET West Route) (glad he thought it was a good idea) to Peggy Pings where we indulged in burgers, salad and potatoes before leaving to the Center Of The Universe!(My back porch Mullens WV!) sorry no squirrel gravy Peggy was walkin not huntin this year!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We made it! Posing at the northern terminus of the GET. Thanks to all that helped along the way- trail volunteers (trails don't build themselves )- people who followed us on our blog and our feet, backs, legs and other body parts for putting up with our constant abuse.
Stay tuned for further updated pics, wit and wisdom now that we will be around computers.
HillBillyBart & Someday

Lots of views and cool trail people gave us a nice warm hug to end our journey!

Our last lunch alone. Fitting!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

4 miles to go WhewHooo! I hope there are fire trucks and jugglers on unicycles awaiting us!

An appropriate trail name for todays start of our end journey!