Friday, March 14, 2014

What's a Lasher?



In the last couple of years, the term "Lasher" has wormed its way into the long-distance hiker's vernacular. It's an acronym for Long-Ass-Section-Hiker, meaning one who hikes a long trail in, uh, really long sections. While that seems lacking in clearly defined parameters, distances hiked are apparently greater than yer run-of-the-mill section hiker, which is not, in itself, defined by any distance parameters.

But, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it."

Neville, of Woods Hole Hostel, told us a story about a hiker who, upon hearing the distance a self-proclaimed section hiker was hiking, said "that's a long-ass section, dude!" (Or words to that effect.) Neville spontaneously suggested that made him a "Lasher." Now, in her characteristically unassuming way, she allowed that she's subsequently heard that others have claimed to have made up the term. But I give credit to Neville.

And it has come to define how I am hiking the Appalachian Trail.

In spring of 2012, I started out like most, hiking north from Springer Mountain in Georgia in a thru-hike attempt. A bursitis in my knee cut that short just across the North Carolina border . I went home, treated the pain, and saw a physical therapist who found the underlying cause. That summer I climbed Mt Katahdin, and headed south on another thru attempt. 538 miles later, I was in a hostel looking at a big lump in my abdomen. The doctor said I needed hernia surgery, stat ...

With 644 miles of the trail behind me, I redefined myself as a section hiker, got back on where I got off the previous spring, sprained my ankle 3 hours in, and hiked north, slowly, till it was time to go to our family's reunion. That took me 674 miles to the James River Bridge. Just shy of Shenandoah. That's a long-ass section if ever I seen one.

1318 miles down, 867 to go ...

In between sections, I saved my pennies and tweaked my gear. My pack's base weight is now just short of 15 lbs, and a good deal of that can be sent home when the mountains warm up.

This spring I'll get back on at James River bridge, and hike north. Barring injury, emergent surgical needs, vector-borne diseases, hurricanes, or government shut downs, I may just finish the AT in one last, Long-Ass Section Hike.


(Note: All distances were taken from the appropriate year's database at atdist.com/. Who in turn get theirs from the ATC's annual publication "Appalachian Trail Data Book,"