What is this blog all about?
Our goal is to document our 2014 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
What is the Appalachian Trail (AT)?
The AT is a public footpath that extends from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. It was conceived by private citizens and constructed during the 1920s and 1930s. It is maintained by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and numerous volunteer groups.
How long is it?
Currently it is 2,185.3 miles long, but it changes every year depending on trail re-routes and modifications. Here is a map.
Are you crazy?
Yes, a little bit.
Where are you starting?
We are starting in Georgia at Springer Mountain on April 16.
How long will it take you?
It takes about 4-7 months to hike the A.T. We plan on doing it in about 5 months.
Where will you sleep, eat, shower, etc.
Our plan is to carry our shelter, stove, pot, utensils, etc. So most of the time we will live in the woods. We plan to take a break (to drink beer) and re-supply every 7-10 days by stopping in trail towns and cleaning up. You can check-out our partial itinerary here.
Isn’t all of that stuff heavy?
Kind of. We follow a modified light-weight backpacking method called the Ray-Way. You can read more about Ray Jardine and his light-weight methods here. So, our pack weight should always stay below or around 20 pounds.
When your pack is full with a weeks worth of food and a lot of water, it is definitely more challenging.
Our base packweight is around 14 lbs without food and water. At Springer, with food and water, Katie’s pack was around 19 lbs and Joel’s was around 23 lbs.
What will you eat?
We plan on dehydrating a lot of food and mailing it to ourselves at points along the way. You can find our mail-drop schedule here (coming soon). In towns, we plan to take full advantage of restaurants (and perhaps a bar or two), delis, and all you can eat buffets. We will also supplement our dehydrated food with fresh food purchases when we can.
Our goal is to keep most of our food of the high-calorie, light-weight variety with lots of snacks.
How far will you hike each day?
To start, we will pace ourselves and take it easy. Once we get going, we see ourselves doing about 20-25 miles a day.
Can I mail you care packages?
Yes, of course! You can read about our favorite foods here, our mail drop schedule here, and some tips on mailing food to thru-hikers here.
If we are scheduled to pick up at a hostel or other location, just use the same information listed in our schedule here.
Are you going to get eaten by a bear?
Just kidding – while black bears are certainly present along the AT, there is very little danger of a bear attack from them. They are generally just interested in food and are way more scared of people than we are of them, so as long as we’re smart about cooking and food storage, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Hiking in grizzly bear country (e.g. Montana or Alaska) is a different story!
Are you taking a gun to fend off the bears, serial killers, Sasquatch, Yeti, etc.?
No, you’re more likely to need a gun than we are.
Are you taking your cell phones?
Yes, we are both taking our cell phones. We don’t expect to have them on 24/7. We may occasionally listen to music while we hike and check in on civilization when we have data reception. Most importantly, the siren song of Tappy Alien, Words With Friends, and Candy Crush may be too powerful to ignore for 5 months!
How are you going to charge your cell phones?
Primarily by charging up when we hit the aforementioned trail towns. Joel is probably going to take a spare battery or two for his Android phone in case of emergency. We may take a solar charger, but haven’t been overly impressed with them in the past. Hit us up if you have any amazing recommendations.
Do you sleep in a tent?
Close, we actually made our own tarp that serves the same function, but is lighter-weight than a tent. The theory behind this (again thanks to Ray Jardine!) is that because you have some airflow, you minimize the amount of condensation that builds up inside the sleeping area and therefore actually ends up being a little bit warmer. We can adjust the sides to be virtually on the ground if it’s raining or blowing like crazy if needed. Here’s a picture of it pitched in Yosemite in September 2011 (and it was ~25 degrees that night):