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Flip Floppin’ to Katahdin

September 16, 2010

NOBO: A person hiking northbound from Springer Mountain, GA to Mt. Katahdin, ME in one continuous hike.

SOBO: A person hiking southbound from Mt. Katahdin, ME to Springer Mountain, GA in one continuous hike.

Flip-flopper: A person who was hiking either north or south and leapt ahead to the end point and is now hiking in the opposite direction back to where he or she flipped.

I began my hike as a NOBO. Now I’m a flip-flopper. Due to a staff infection in my arm and having a bad reaction to the antibiotics I was given,  I was sick and off the trail for a month. Once returning to the AT, I was concerned I wouldn’t make it to Katahdin before the park closed for the season.

As I lay in bed sick, I debated my options. I could hop back on the trail in Vermont (where I came off) and continue north to Maine. There were two major drawbacks to this plan. I would have to race through the hardest section of the trail (having lost my “trail legs”) to make it before Katahdin closed. It’d be stressful and not very enjoyable. The other problem was that I’d be alone — most NOBOS already had passed through Vermont.

Option Two: I could flip-flop … drive up to Katahdin and hike south back into Vermont. The main drawback being I would finish at a random road crossing in Vermont rather than atop the dramatic summit … a very anti-climatic finish to a nearly 2,200 mile journey.

But in the end I decided to flip … my boyfriend driving me through the night for us to summit on less than three hours of sleep (don’t recommend that). Climbing Katahdin was a bittersweet experience. For months the mountain had symbolized the end of one of the toughest events in my life and would mark a great achievement. To stand atop Katahdin with more than 500 miles left to hike was difficult for me, but I was excited and thankful to be back on the trail.

After coming off the mountain, I began my hike south to tackle my last 537 miles of the AT.

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