So What is the Appalachian Trail and Why Would Anyone Want to Thru Hike it?

First off, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’ve never even been backpacking myself. But for my confused friends and relatives I want to explain exactly what the Appalachian Trail is.

Picture this: Winding atop the peaks and ridges of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, stretching over 2,000 miles of American soil there is an ever changing, ever fluid trail.

This trail exists and is known as Appalachian Trail, sometimes shortened to “the A.T.”. It begins in Georgia and follows the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains north to Maine. Every year, from around the world, hikers gather at Mt. Springer in Georgia in preparation to walk every last step of those 2,000 plus miles to the trail’s completion in Maine. Those who complete the entire trail in one go (waking up every morning and walking, going to sleep every night foot sore from walking, and waking up the next morning to do it all over again) are called thru hikers. The act of walking the entire trail in one go is called a thru hike. I intend to compete my own thru hike in the summer of 2018.

White Mountains New Hampshire

A section of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire

But why hike it? What motivates thru hikers to trade the comforts and luxuries of home for six months of sore feet and mosquitoes? I can’t speak for everyone but for me it’s a way to test myself, to do something hard that takes commitment. But more than that it’s a way to get away from our busy world and be at peace without the bustle of everyday life. And it’s a way to be with the mountains which, from my childhood, have captured my imagination and called to me.

And you don’t have to be Superman to complete a thru hike. Anyone can do it.  5 year old Christian Thomas has hiked the entire A.T. as have Bill Irwin, who is blind, and Lee Barry, who was 81 at the time. My point is that if you have the will the physical ability can follow. Thru hikes aren’t something reserved only for titans of ability and experience.

As I said I intend to complete my thru hike in the summer of 2018. I’m only in the planning and research stages right now but I’ve got plenty of time to prepare. If you’re interested in following my progress then stick around. I intend to update this blog regularly with gear purchases, more detailed plans, reviews of the short preliminary hikes I’ll be going on, and everything else thru hike related. Perhaps even the A.T. itself when I get to it.

If you have any more questions about the trail itself definitely check out: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Website and the Wikipedia Page. And below is a map of the Appalachian Trail. I included it in my first post but I thought It would be helpful here too, given the topic I’m discussing.

Until next time,

Eliza

app trail map

Map of the Appalachian

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