Do you dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, of slipping away from civilization for a while, paring down to only the simple essentials that can be carried in a backpack, and taking on a challenge that is bigger than yourself? It takes about five million steps to hike the AT from end to end, and the real first steps – to decide to do it and then make a solid plan, are perhaps the most difficult.
The Appalachian Trail isn’t the longest footpath in the world, but it is arguably the most famous and certainly the most traveled. The complete 2,189-mile trek is the ultimate backpacking adventure and the hike of a lifetime for many hikers. Several thousand people attempt the trail every year, but only a fraction who start actually finish.
In 2015, this hiker walked the entire AT – for the second time, the first in 1977 – from Springer Mtn. in Georgia to the summit of Katahdin in Maine, taking 189 glorious days to go the distance. From mid-March to early October, I wrote a series of columns for the Maine Sunday Telegram chronicling the long journey, and I have compiled those accounts into a four-part series.
Part 4 presented here covers some interesting post-hike analysis, tips on how to prepare for your own AT thru-hike, threats to the AT hike experience and what’s being done to address the issues, maintaining the AT with volunteer help, and celebrating the 80the anniversary of our beloved trail. I hope you enjoy this armchair adventure and find inspiration through my footsteps enough to maybe tackle the big hike yourself one day. Click on the highlighted links to read each piece. Enjoy!
Preparations are first steps for Appalachian Trail. It takes 5 million steps, none more important than those at the beginning.
Clearing the way on the Appalachian Trail. It’s the time of year when trail maintainers work hard to remove brush and blowdowns on the AT.