Celebrate the Appalachian Trail's Flip-Flop Kickoff Weekend

The northbound portal to the Appalachian Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The northbound portal to the Appalachian Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

One of the smartest solutions to the overcrowding of hopeful thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail each spring is to flip-flop. Seriously.

In a not so serious way, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is celebrating flip-flop hikes at their inaugural Flip-Flop Kickoff Weekend in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, on Saturday and Sunday, May 2+3, 2015.

Springer Mountain looms above Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. Hikers can opt for the roughly 48.4 bazillion steps on the Stairway to Pain alongside the falls or they can be shuttled closer to a parking lot near the trailhead.

The point is hundreds of hoofers hit the Trail within weeks of each other.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The wilderness that is presumed to be the Appalachian Trail is more like throngs of zombies slowly moving along a path where you are surrounded by others in the unwilderness.

Flip-flop hikes diminish the bottleneck down South because attempts to thru-hike are broken into one segment from someplace on the Trail, such as Harper's Ferry, WV, northward to Katahdin.

Once that successful attempt has been made, folks flip-flop back to where they began, such as Harper's Ferry, and head southbound to Springer to complete their quest.

Sure, there are some people who will quack about it not being a "real" thru-hike because it wasn't all in one direction. Ignore them. Remember, some people think The Princess Bride wasn't a great movie. It's best to ignore such ignorance.

ATC Staff Members Clair e& Laurie (L-R) in Harper's Ferry. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

ATC Staff Members Claire & Laurie (L-R) in Harper's Ferry. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Our pal Laurie Potteiger (whose last name also spells "Tiger Poet" and "I Greet Pot") and the other kind people at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are just giddy about how flip-flop hikes can reduce all manner of congestion on the Trail.

The Flip-Flop Kickoff Weekend celebrates flip-floppers and other cool stuff about the Trail.

Even if you don't give a flip about flip-flop hikes, come anyway. We wouldn't want this event to be (wait for it ... wait for it) a flop.

Here's what Laurie and the ATC gang have to say about it on their website:

For some Appalachian Trail hikers, the motto "Hike Your Own Hike" is taking on a new meaning as thru-hikers with non-traditional itineraries gain in popularity. Although 80 percent of hikers who set out to complete the entire Appalachian Trail in 12 months or less start in Georgia and end in Maine, a growing percentage are attempting a "flip-flop," which is a hike that begins and/or ends mid-Trail. The ATC is encouraging this type of conservation-minded thru-hike.

Flip-Flop Kickoff Weekend Schedule

Saturday, May 2

10 a.m.: Session 1: Flip-Flopping in 2014 by Anne "Nubbins" Brown
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

11 a.m.: Session 2: The Advantages of an Alternative Thru-Hike: How to Plan your Flip-Flop by Ryan "Castanada" Seltzer (2009 "Cool Breeze" flip-flopper)
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

Noon: Session 3: First Aid and Staying Healthy by Heather "Brave" Harmon-Sloan
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

Noon to 2 p.m.: Cookout (hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and drinks available for donation)
Location: Odd Fellows yard

1 p.m. Session 4: Pack Shakedown - Lauralee "Blissful" Bliss
Session will begin with a demo pack shakedown comparing heavy and lightweight packs. Then Lauralee will evaluate items in packs of individual hikers looking to reduce their pack weight. To have your pack assessed, sign up at the Event Info Table (first-come, first-served). All are invited to observe.
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

1 to 4 p.m.: Live music featuring The Hokums (1 to 2 p.m.), Todd Coyle (2 to 3 p.m.), and Craggy Island (3 to 4 p.m.)
Location: Main stage at Odd Fellows yard

2 p.m.: Singer/songwriter Todd Coyle performs special Flip Flop Kick Off anthem
Location: Main stage

2:30 p.m.: Session 5: Flip-Flop Hiker Panel Discussion with Anne "Nubbins" Brown '14 (Pearisburg northbound); Emily "Fiver" Mishler '14 (Harpers Ferry northbound); and Ryan "Castanada" Seltzer '09 (modified "Cool Breeze")
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

3:30 p.m.: Session 6: Flipping Out for 30 Days: Lessons Learned by "Treehugger"
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

4:30 p.m.: Session 7: Trail Magic Panel Discussion with Lauralee "Blissful" Bliss, Heather "Brave" Harmon-Sloan and others.
Location: Curtis Freewill Baptist Church basement

5 p.m.: Day concludes with prize giveaways
Location: Main stage, Odd Fellows Lawn

Other fun festival offerings:

  • Interactive Leave No Trace demonstrations at 10:15, 11:15, 2:45, 3:45 and 4:45. Learn how to bear bag and dig a proper cat hole!
  • Ongoing kid's activities, including a special A.T. Cornhole game
  • Free temporary tattoos
  • A commemorative Flip Flop Kick Off stamp for your Appalachian Trail Passport! Just visit the Information table during the event.

Sunday, May 3

7:30 a.m.: Community pancake breakfast Location: Camp Hill Methodist Church, 601 Washington St.

9 a.m.: Flip flop hiker sendoff
Location: ATC's Visitor Center

Click Here for Flip-Flop Kickoff Weekend Details


Tags: Attractions, Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, Appalachian Trail Festival, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, and Festivals

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Comments
Rod Spivey on Mar 11, 2017
I like the idea of the flip for many reasons. Live in King George, Virginia and like the idea of not rushing to meet the October 15 deadline in Maine. What is "mud season " in Vermont???