Note: An update from Jeff Moravec, a contributing writer to the Outdoors Weekend section, who profiled Dianne Seger in mid-June.
When we first checked in with Dianne Seger, the recent retiree from Plymouth who is hiking the Appalachian Trail, it was late May and she already was 900 miles into her thru-hike. In some ways, however, Seger was still getting her feet wet — figuring out the logistics of a long-distance hike and the limits of her physical capabilities.
But when Outdoors Weekend caught up with Seger by phone for an update last week, she’d put in another 600 miles and sounded like someone hitting her rhythm.
Seger has more than doubled her average daily mileage, from about 8 a day when she started to 16, or a little more. Early on, mileage that high would cause Seger to develop shin splits, but no more. Still, she knows not to push things. “If I get up to around 20 miles a day, it just hurts too much and then I end up taking a zero (a day off),” she said. “If you do 20 miles in a day and then take a zero, you’re not averaging much.”
Seger was in Connecticut, the 10th of 14 states the trail passes through. Although she doesn’t have a hard deadline, she expects to reach the end of the trail in Maine (2,200 miles) in mid- to late September. “I don’t want to do winter at the end because I did winter at the beginning,” she said.
The biggest issues Seger has faced on the trail in recent weeks were black flies (aka “no-see-ums”) that forced her to wear a head net ... and then a tough case of poison ivy.
“Poison ivy is everywhere,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hanging over the edge of the trail. I suspect my hiking poles got in it, and then I got it when I banged them against my legs.”
“Life on the trail is very simple,” Seger said, but treating the blisters that developed from the poison ivy showed her that “sometimes simple things are very hard.”
Seger ended up at a walk-in clinic.“Then, because I was undertreated, I had to do it all over again. You end up taking time off, and that’s what can slow you down.” (Another thing Seger discovered at the doctor’s office: She has lost 27 pounds on this hike.)
Because Seger tries not to carry more than four days of food with her, she takes a resupply break about every three days.
“I know this is a long hike, but this way it’s really a whole bunch of three- or four-day hikes,” she said. “And after three days in the woods, the simple things are so appreciated — like a hot shower and doing laundry.”