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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at

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Posted: February 20, 2018

Hiking the Appalachian Trail: One Mainer’s account of the long journey from Georgia to Maine (part 4)

Written by: Carey Kish

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!


An Appalachian Trail thru-hike by the numbers.

A huge hiker feed on the AT at Woody Gap in Suches, Georgia. I was on the receiving end of trail magic, like the burgers, hot dogs, and beer pictured here, on 74 occasions between Georgia and Maine. Carey Kish photo.


Preparations are first steps for Appalachian Trail. It takes 5 million steps, none more important than those at the beginning.

Do you dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, of slipping out of 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? Here’s some trail-tested advice for making it happen. Carey Kish photo.


Appalachian Trail officials scramble to deal with increased usage as new hiking season begins.

ATC Ridgerunner Jim Fetig packs out a mountain of hiker trash picked up along the AT in Georgia. Carey Kish photo.


More hikers means more care needed on the Appalachian Trail.

The bottom line for AT hikers, whether you’re out there for the day or a weekend, a week or many months: Love and respect the trail, and protect it by being a good steward at all times. And don’t be shy about educating others about best practices. Carey Kish photo.


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.

The month of May is when throngs of maintainers from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club take to the trail, after the snowpack has diminished but before Memorial Day weekend. From the boundary of Baxter State Park to Grafton Notch in the Mahoosucs, we’ve got a brief window of time to clear the winter blowdowns and clip back the brush to open the way for the summer hiking season. Your help is needed! Carey Kish photo.


Celebrate 80 years of the Appalachian Trail.

On Aug. 14, 1937, the last section of the Appalachian Trail was cut and blazed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They worked at 3,500 feet on the rugged ridgeline connecting Spaulding and Sugarloaf mountains in the jumbled high-peaks region of western Maine. All hail, the trail builders! Carey Kish photo.


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