So what am I actually doing?
Right so thruhiking The Appalachian Trail what will I actually be doing?
The trail is about 2,184 miles long starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia and finishing on Mount Katahdin in Maine. I will hike through 14 States of America along the way, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Whilst doing this I will take roughly 5 million footsteps or more just on the trail.
I am hoping this will take me just over 5 months to complete, I will hike for six days then have a zero day in a nearby town then hike another six days and so on…….
There are shelters along the trail which range from shed like structures like a lean two with open fronts, too more substantial structures with luxury four walls! But for the most part I have decided to camp in a small tent in the woods just to make things a bit more interesting.
Other things you may or may not want to know: Yes I will be shitting in the woods like a bear and I’ve been told it gets interesting when its raining, TP and rain do not mix is all I can imagine at this point. No I will not be hunting for my food, I will be carrying all my gear on my back around 30 lbs and this will include about 3-4 days worth of food. When it runs out I will restock if we hike through a town if we don’t, I have to find my way to a town through various means, hopefully not more hiking adding to the 2,184 miles. Am I hiking with anyone? Well I hope so, roughly 3000 people start a thruhike every spring so I’m sure I will meet a few along the way.
Dangers along the way…….Bears! Yes I will probably encounter some Bears, at least I hope I do. From what I hear they will usually run away in the opposite direction. It’s either that or they will come after your food, so each night when I make camp I will have to hang my food bag in the trees. There have been stories of people waking up in the middle of the night no longer surrounded by their cozy tent but gazing up at the stars…and into the eyes of a big bear that has just swiped their tent away with its claws, but this is rare….at least I hope it is. Bear activity is on the rise as more and more people hike on the trail and they become used to humans.
Snakes are another risk, the Rattle Snake being a fairly common occurrence on the trail so I will have to be carefull not to piss one-off by treading on it by accident as this will surely result in me being bitten and that would mean game over on the trail.
Being struck by lightning is not unheard of on the trail, as along the route I will more often than not be pretty high up and exposed and I will probably be hiking through my fair share of storms as you just got to keep hiking. In The Pox & Puss podcast (well worth a listen) I heard about a thruhiker being struck by lightning, and then just carried on hiking!!! Crazy!!!
Ticks and mosquitos. While hiking the trail I will definitely be bitten by mosquitoes and I will just have to hope it isn’t carrying West Nile Virus as this if untreated can haunt you for a long time after you finish the hike. The same goes for Lyme disease which you get from being bitten by a tick, so each night at camp I will have to do a full body check to make sure I havent got any of those critters sucking my blood because this disease again is not a laughing matter. The problem with these two diseases are the symptoms, which are flu-like and just make you feel tired and achy and yes, you got it, that is exactly how I will feel anyway from a days hiking or weeks and months of hiking for that matter and the longer you leave these things untreated the bigger chance you have of getting it for life.
So as you can see there are a few risks I may encounter on the trail but the positive experiences I will most definitely encounter on the trail will far out way the negative.
I will be able to get a shower on the trail but only if I hike into a town, the rest of the time I will go for a swim in a river like a caveman, same goes for my clothes and while we are on that subject, I will have only two sets of clothes, one for hiking and one for camp life, so an answer to another question, will I get dirty and smelly? Simple answer, YES! I have heard of restaurants along the way banning thruhikers because they smell so bad. Good times.
Back to a previous point of the 5 million footsteps, I will probably go through about four to six pairs of shoes while hiking the trail.
Well I hope this has cleared a few things up for the people out there who are curious about some of what a thruhike actually involves. This is by no means all of what I will encounter but hopefully there will be tons more to write about when I get out there.
Thanks for reading
Oh I almost forgot one of the most important things, to find my way on the trail I will be following ‘White Blazes’ which mark the route of the trail all the way to Katahdin. These will be anywhere in the region of every 100mtr to one in a mile so there is an element of getting lost here HAHA!