Already the Class is forming. People are in planning and excitement mode.
I've visited Trail Days in Damascus, VA the last two years. There is a hiker parade as the main event. Main St is shutdown, the crowd forms - many with squirt guns and water balloons (I assume to wash off the Hiker Stench) - and different Classes hike down the street. Some people wear their hiker garb, others wear diapers (no idea how that tradition started), others costumes. The Classes stretch back decades. These classes are a tight knit group of the larger tight knit Trail community itself. Some groups go further and camp in the same "towns" in group camping. These folks have shared experiences, their stories are inter-woven with one another. The events that happened that year on the Trail, weather or tragedy or hilarity, traveled via word of mouth and registry to many hikers that year, cementing a bond between them. This is something I am very much looking forward to.
These people, fellow adventurers, intrepid travelers all, will be my Classmates. I may never meet some, but they will still have a large effect on me. I will be reading their entries in the shelter registers, I will get to know their sense of humor, their frustrations, and I will look forward to news from up-Trail. Those following me will do the same. If I do finally run (or rather walk) into these hikers, I will have an understanding and feel a sense of kinship to them that they won't have for me if they have never read my musings in the registers.
I have already had the pleasure of reading the words laid down by a couple bloggers that are hiking this year. I am looking forward to reading future posts, both on the Internet and in the registers, as both are beginning before me. Laughing Dog and Appalachian Jake are two that I have found so far. Both are good reads, and give me insight into them. Meeting them will be a pleasure.
I have done some research and the more research I do the more blogs and resources I find concerning the upcoming 2012 season. Since the Good Badger has already begun a list of bloggers, I will link his site, and let you do some of your own research. I will be adding all these to Google Reader (RSS is a wonderful thing) so I can follow along.
I see a buzz on White Blaze about those that are preparing to hit the AT in 2012 as well. There are also a bunch of Facebook groups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
And since I'm a fan of Google+ this blog has it's very own Page for micro-blogging.
More prep talk
On other fronts I completely re-did my shipping schedule and ironed out the areas that I had as gray-areas (Shenandoah and White Mountains). I am pleased with the amounts of time between drops, and the closeness to the Trail. Most I have are within a mile, usually less. I have setup an average of 13 miles per day between drops. I guess the part I may regret and need to change is the length of time between drops. I am planning on some of two or three days, however most drops are for 7 days with a few 8 or 9 days (110+ miles between drops). This may be way too heavy. In the next few weeks I will be loading my pack with all my intended gear, water, and the heaviest amount of food I will be carrying. Virginia has some very long ridge walks, and the southern New England states are, well let's face it, they're easy - comparatively. I have read probably over a dozen journals and books of peoples experience on the Trail. Everyone talks of the hard the beginning, the length of Virginia, the rocks of Pennsylvania, and then the Green Mountains. There are several states, CT, MA, NY, NJ that people say, "another state - woohoo!" and that's about it. That being said, I have also heard those states are very pretty, and I am looking forward the the N.E. stroll (I hope it won't be too hot this summer). I hope that 1 weeks worth of food will not be too much on my back. I am trying to minimize time in town, either having to wait until the Post opens or getting drawn in to all the town calories($)! My meals are light and have high nutritional value, the Harmony House meals are very light! The packets of chicken and the summer sausage both are a bit heavier since they both have some moisture weight, but those will be eaten first!
I found a nice web-site that has an enormous library of user generated item weights, as well as the capability of adding your own. It is a work in progress, since I'm not completely a gram-weeny I don't have too much concern with the exact weight of every single item. I care more about the approximate weight just for reference. Once I'm on the Trail for a few weeks, and the handle of my tooth brush is cut off, then you can call me an ounce-counter!