It’s going to be a bit before I can get anything done though. They’re booked until mid-May and I can’t get an appointment any earlier. Of course if something happens like another toothache or infection before May, then they can work me in earlier. But otherwise it’ll be roughly 2 months before I go back. There’s no way around it though, I’ve avoided my toothy problems for far too long. Which adds a rather large twist to my previous plan.
Initially I had intended to get dropped off at Max Patch and continue my trek of the AT this Spring-Summer. I briefly thought about starting the whole thing over again from Springer Mtn in Georgia, but that thought didn’t last very long. The 250 miles I’ve already done aren’t much in the entire 2,200-ish mile length of the AT, but I’d rather not do them again right now. That technically makes me a section-hiker at this point, but I’m cool with that. Hike your own Hike, and all. But I now have 3 dental appointments scheduled from May 18th-June15th that can’t be skipped…so the hiking logistics require a bit more than a “start here and go north for as far as I can” strategy.
With all three appointments spaced out like they are, I’ll be off the Trail for about 3-4 weeks. The first two appointments are within days of each other but there’s a 2½ week span of time between the last two. I figure I’ll want a few days of recovery time after all the toothwork, so that leaves me with roughly 2 weeks of lost hiking time. Two weeks that I’d rather not lose. Since I’m lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of several places where the AT crosses roads, I came up with a tentatively modified plan:
Instead of starting where I stopped last year at Max Patch, I’m going to skip ahead 75 miles or so to a little place called Spivey Gap, near Erwin, TN, and start there. I’ll go as far as I can from this Saturday ‘til just before my first appointment in mid-May, and then head back home. Then in the 2 weeks I have between appointments, I’ll do the stretch from Max Patch to Spivey Gap and head back home again. Once the final appointment is over I’ll hop back on where I stopped initially and continue from there.
So for a timeline of sorts:
- Springer to Max Patch…Last Year
- Max Patch to Spivey Gap…skip for now
- Spivey Gap to “As Far As I Can Go”…March 20, 2010 to Mid-May, 2010
- ---Icky dental stuff happens here---
- Max Patch to Spivey Gap…2 week downtime
- ---More icky dental stuff---
- “As Far As I Went Before” to Katahdin…Early June 2010 to whenever
It makes it kind of a hodge-podge hike instead of a single straight shot, but it’ll add an unusual spin to things. And I tend to like things on the unusual side anyway.
Slotting 2 weeks to do the 75 mile stretch from Max Patch to Spivey Gap may seem like a generous estimate but there are several factors involved in that time frame.
- I’m a “smell the roses” type of hiker, so I tend to go slower than the usual AT-autobahn that many hikers seem to be on (not that there’s anything wrong with that…Hike your own Hike).
- The stretch of the AT between Hot Springs and Erwin is notorious for being on the strenuous side. Quite a few of the books and journals I’ve read cite Erwin, TN as a place where many hopeful AT hikes come to an end due to injuries. I want to be able to take my time and not hurt any body part I may need later. I don’t want this year to end like last year.
- After all the initial dental work I may not feel like doing much besides resting anyway.
So slotting 2 weeks for it seems like a good idea to me.