I did it, I broke from hiker custom and shaved the beard off in Pearisburg. It was a good beard too. I started it in late March when we went to visit my sister in South Carolina and shaved it a month later.
I did it for a few reasons. First and foremost, and other beard aficionados may disagree, but it was not very comfortable. With the beard, it was nice not having to worry about shaving or taking the time to deal with any of that but it simply didn’t feel good on the face. It’s getting hotter out here and the beard seemed to add to the heat. The beard doesn’t go well with all the dirt either. I don’t view myself as much of a neat freak and am far from clean out here, but the beard felt like it significantly added to my dirtiness. Julie also did not like the beard. I didn’t get real kisses from her, the good kind where we get really close, because she didn’t like the feel of the beard against her face.
So for all these reasons, the beard came off. I’m not 100% certain why it’s so common place out here but it’s likely due to the lack of wanting to carry a razor to shave on the trail. Hardly anyone out here carries deodorant, let alone a razor. A beard also seems to fit with the lifestyle of the back to nature, outdoorsman persona that people tend to go for out here. A beard is an immediate sign of membership into the thru-hiking club out here and it is true that when you see a guy out on the trail without a beard, you don’t usually think of him as a thru-hiker.
However, I was willing to forgo membership in the club out here for the comfort of the non-bearded life. I am also willing to carry the weight of a razor. I picked up a nice Mach 3 in Pearisburg and carry it along with me. I figure I’ll use it about once a week to keep within my comfort and cleanliness limits. This is indeed turning over a new leaf for me on the trail as I have never stayed clean shaven on any of my past hikes. Oh what big things we have going on out here on the trail.