For those interested, here is a nice comparison between my Altra Superior 2’s. The blue pair has roughly 600 miles, the silver/yellow pair are brand new.
Other hikers I’ve met seem to be using the Altra Lone Peaks instead. Honestly, I bought these on a whim in Damascus, and I have been more than happy with them. They offer more terrain feedback than the thicker-soled Lone Peaks, and I’ve been very pleased with how they grip the trail.
They fit me so well that, even with the five inch gash on the side, I was rock hopping down switchbacks today at 3-4mph with complete confidence.
Hauling ass down switchbacks, especially when my pack is light and low on food, is my favorite thing to do on the AT. I typically have my earbuds in, blasting some kind of fast, loud music.
“Trail Legs” are discussed often early into a thru-hike. Many people think they happen 400-500 miles in. I’ve learned that having trail legs is about far more than strength, but also balance and coordination. Currently, all three of these elements are the most refined they’ve ever been in my life.
Often I enter this strange flow-state where I’m mentally checked out, but completely focused on every step. Mushin? This is where I reach the edge of my ability as a hiker, and I’m moving so fast a single miss-step would be serious enough to end my thru-hike. It’s important to get on that edge once in a while though, and I love it.
My father was an accomplished skier, and I often muse that this downhill dance is in my blood somehow.