There are many different ways you can choose to explore the Appalachian Trail. You can pick out just one or two sections of trail you want to hike in the state of your choice. You can hike for a day or a few days. If you’ve got a few months or more on your hands and want an unforgettable adventure, you could do a hike-thru of all 14 states. Since the entire Appalachian trail is about 2,168 miles long, that is quite a feat to accomplish!
This 14 state hike thru is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of determination and spirit. You must love the outdoors and not just that, but really love the wilderness. People that have completed this amazing trek have come away with knee problems, blistered and damaged feet, but a memory unlike any other they will ever experience.
Where The Trail Starts
The AT begins in Georgia and ends in Maine, or the other way around depending on which end you want to start at. Statistics can show that although many hikers start out on this adventure with the greatest determination, only about 25% actually complete the entire hike through. When you live day after day and week after week with the bugs, the dirt, the sweat, and the extreme fatigue and discomfort, some people find they just aren’t tough enough, but that’s ok, better to try and complete a section than none at all.
Who Should Attempt A Hike Of This Magnitude?
You must have your back, knees, muscles, and joints in good condition.
Mentally strong enough to deal with the monotony of the daily grind.
Those with more outdoor experience stand a better chance to finish.
Be able to stand the pressures of climbing the extremely tough and often ascending terrain.
Things You Need To Plan Ahead For The Hike
The great thing about hiking thru on the AT is that you will encounter plenty of people. At each stop along the way you are likely to find very friendly locals. The trail is a tourist attraction after all and many locals cater to the hikers, usually at a price of course, for most things like hot baths and showers, hot food, a bed for the night in a real house (although having a good hiking tent will be cheaper), and sometimes just a place to take the load off and converse with other for a spell.
* You aren’t as likely to get as lonely if you hike along with others. They can be folks you invite to come with you, or you can pick out a buddy or two that you don’t know when you begin your journey. You can always break away from strangers if you decide you had rather go it alone.
* Arrange for care packages from home to be delivered from home in advance of their arrival. This can mean when you reach a certain point on the trail, you can have a care package of goodies like snacks, medicines, soaps and other useful things if you have someone at home willing to send them to you.
* Getting care packages sent to you can be as or more expensive than buying your stuff along the way. There are plenty of places to buy your supplies stuff as you go. You must remember that it is impossible to take along all of the food and supplies with you from the beginning. Since you will be backing it all the way, you only carry as much as you need for a few days at a time.
* Since this hike is definitely no picnic, you must be prepared for injuries or illnesses. You should have medical coverage in case you develop and infection from tick bites, snake bites, or even a sever case of poison ivy! If not medical insurance, you need cash or a credit card for a hospital or doctor visit. Carrying a large amount of cash on the trail might not be a good idea. You might wish to have money sent to you as you go.
* Be prepared with a way to get yourself home quickly if need be either by having someone come and get you or the ability to buy a plane or bus ticket from wherever you must end your hike for whatever reason.
* If you are already physically fit before you start your hike, take a little time before hand to get in even better shape, at least a few weeks training. It will help you to be better prepared from the start.
* Be prepared for the rain. You will hike on plenty of good days, but there is also going to be plenty of bad ones too. Depending on what time of year you hike, the weather can be better or worse. During the hottest months of summer you will suffer through the heat and humidity and you might long for the rain. During a rainy spell on the trail, it can last for days and become really disheartening.
* Traveling light is said to be the absolute best way to go if you want to finish this hike. Even lightweight travel is going to be heavy enough because there will be certain things you must have all along the way. The weight of a backpack for average folks will be between 20 – 25 lbs. Some hikers might be able to carry more, some less.
* You can’t be in a hurry. Be prepared to take a day off from hiking here and there. This trip will have to be paced out or you will never make it.
Even if you finish the hike, at the end you must know whether you are hiking back to the place you started. That is really, really hard to do. Most people will fly out or take a bus. You might even have a car waiting to drive, but all of this must be planned ahead. If you think you are tough enough for an arduous journey like this, it will definitely be one for your own personal record books and tales you can pass down for generations to come!