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 1 presented here covers some of the pre-trip planning and musings, then the actual hiking through Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee and into southern Virginia. 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!
After 38 years, a second Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The trail from Georgia to Maine requires about five million steps to cover the grueling 2,189-mile distance through 14 states. The journey will take six months to complete.
Take Appalachian Trail a step at a time. Good planning makes a major hike like this manageable.
Georgia, Georgia, many whole days through… to Carolina. It’s a long, long way to Maine, but it’s worth it.
Wonderful sights in the Land of the Noonday Sun. The southern Appalachian summits feature a thick vegetation of native grasses and shrubs, and these “balds” reward hikers outstanding panoramic views.
Entering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Our thru-hiker enjoys an Easter feast at the start of the famous mountain range, with features elevations of 5-6,000 feet.
Making some unexpected friends in North Carolina. Having the trail name “Beerman” has its distinct advantages.
You can also follow my day-to-day progress on the AT through my blog, starting here: Six-Moon Journey: A 2,200-mile adventure on the Appalachian Trail.