Who are you?
Greetings! My (trail) name is Griz. I’m 24 years old from Charleston, SC. I graduated from the College of Charleston in 2017 and hiked the PCT that summer. It was such a positive experience that shortly after finishing and getting settled back into the “real world”, I set my sights on hiking the AT and CDT in the subsequent years, thus completing the Triple Crown. Due to the logistics and my finances at the time, I knew 2018 wasn’t a very realistic goal to hike, so I set my sights on the AT for 2019, and the CDT for 2020. In the meantime, I continued working as a valet, which I did through college, and picked up a day job at a small manufacturing plant.
There are multiple reasons I chose to go sobo, which I’ll outline here, but they’re in no particular order. It’s kind of a mix between what I would have chosen regardless, and what made the most sense logistically.
1. The lease for my house is through July 15, and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sublet for 4-ish months. I’ve lived with the same group of guys for 4+ years and didn’t want to do that to them either
2. I think the trail will be generally less crowded. I’ve heard some horror stories of how the trail is during the first few hundred miles going NOBO and didn’t want to deal with that.
3. Several people I know and trust who have hiked the AT said if they were to do it again they would go SOBO.
4. I think the weather will be significant better going SOBO. I’m planning on finishing in 4 months, so hopefully I’ll avoid the nasty winter weather in the south.
What are you looking forward to?
Being from the East coast, and having done a decent amount of hiking around where I grew up in upstate SC, I’m still a much bigger fan of the big, picturesque mountains out west. Despite that, I’m extremely excited to see all the East Coast has to offer and giving it the chance to win me over. I’ve also heard really good things about the social aspects and overall culture of the AT so I’m looking forward to seeing how that differs from the PCT.
Honestly, I became extremely spoiled on the PCT weather-wise. Outside of the extreme desert heat and a few days of snow at the end, the weather on trail was amazing. I never had to worry about rain. I cowboy camped 90% of the time and it was nice to have one less thing to worry about, so really the rain on the AT is kind of intimidating.
Overall, I’m really excited to be back on trail after 2 years and getting the chance to share my experiences with a larger audience than my immediate friends and family. I was and still am a regular listener/reader of The Trek so getting the opportunity to contribute is kind of surreal. If you’d like to connect with me or follow along, I’ll be posting semi-regularly on Instagram @grizhikes. See you on trail!