When I began my hike, I was unsure if I would be able to complete my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I was successful, but it was no easy task. Read the link before to learned about I accomplished my goal. How I became a thru hiker
Alvin Toffler wrote that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Read about the lessons I learned along the way. What I learned, unlearned, and relearned
Questions & Answers about the trail that I answered before my thru hike
Where is the Appalachian Trail located? The trail crossed fourteen states from Georgia to Maine. In order from South to North- Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
How long is this trail? Each year the length varies due to construction, closures, and rerouting. 2,185.3 miles is the 2014 length based on my handy guide book. http://www.theatguide.com/ For those considering a thru hike or even a few miles on the trail this is a wonderful guide that I would recommend. (This distance does not include my hikes into town for food, beverages, showers, clean laundry, and resupplies. I am hoping for some hitches! Don’t tell mom!)
Where does the hike begin? It all depends on preference. Most thru hikers begin at Springer Mountain in Georgia and hike north. Others choose to start in Maine at Mt. Katahdin and walk south. Others choose to flip flop meaning they begin somewhere in the middle then hike one way to return to their starting point to head the opposite direction. I will begin at Springer Mountain and need to reach Mt. Katahdin by Oct. 15 before it closes for the winter.
Who are you going with? I wish one of my close friends had six months available to thru hike the trail with me or my stubborn dad would just retire to the AT. But in all reality, most people have careers, school, or other family obligations that keep them off the trail. I am considered a solo thru hiker, but I do not expect to spend many nights alone. A few thousand people attempt a thru hike each year and there will be plenty of company.
Are you bringing a gun, mace, or at least taking self-defense classes? No, no, and no. Overall the trail is a safe place when you consider that millions of people hike a part of the AT each year, but anything can happen. I will rely on my instincts and listen carefully for wildlife. I remember hiking in Alaska and felt so confident carrying bear spray in my pack to realize you need to have it in your hand at all times or it is useless. I don’t plan on hiking 2200 miles carrying mace in my hand because I’ll need my hands to catch myself when I fall.
What do you do for food? I chose all of my favorite snacks that are high in calories to eat along the way. Reminds me of my college days! Each day I will be burning thousands of calories while hiking up and down the mountains with a 30 pounds bag that includes 5-6 pounds of food. I have a small cooking pot/pan and a MSR pocket stove with fuel that will allow me to cook dehydrated meals, rice dishes, and any other add water dish. Drinking water will be supplied out of fast running streams and purified using a SteriPen which uses ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria. I would later switch to the Sawyer filter. Every few days, I will head into a town to shop or pick up a mail drop sent by family or friends. I will also be enjoying a cold drink and large warm meals. Some communities along the trail offer meal discounts to thru hikers as well.
Where will you be sleeping? I get this question all the time and the answer is what you think in the woods. The Appalachian Trail has numerous shelters along the trail over 250. They vary from simple three sided shelters to complex two story shelters. These shelters usually fill up at night with everyone lying close together in their bags. I am also carrying a light weight tent to use when the shelters are full; I just need some space, or want to spend the night at a spot that does not have a shelter. I also will be spending time at various hostels or hotels that offer a warm shower, laundry, and meals. Many churches near the trail also offer a room and meal with a donation. Don’t worry I will be able to easily fall asleep anywhere after hours of hiking.
Aren’t you scared? I would be lying if I said I had no fear. My fears include blisters, sickness, lyme disease and injuries. I am not worried about the animals, sleeping alone on the trail, being a solo hiker or my disappointment if I do not complete this hike.