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Thread: Seriously thinking of hiking the Appalachian trail.

  1. #1

    Default Seriously thinking of hiking the Appalachian trail.

    I've been thinking of doing this and was going to wait for an opportune Time in my life and I'm thinking now is perfect. I just got out of the Military and am thinking of holding off on going back to college for this. Was contemplating saving up till June next year and starting it in GA and packing all the essential gear and just going off the grid all by my lonesome for 6-8 months. Now it does sound risky but to me I've been thinking of doing this for a few reasons.

    1. Adventure
    2. Perspective
    3. Soul Searching

    I'm not really afraid of going alone. My initial plan was to cover 12-20 miles a day and stop walking when I get tired, bed down off the path and cover up. Change socks, get re-supply and keep moving. I know I could do it but I'm wondering if anyone here has hiked the trail before. I'm no stranger to "hikes", it's more of a test of mental hardiness than anything else. Fitness doesn't really matter as once your legs to numb from walking you'll go on autopilot. Anywho, any tips? I'm not a diehard DL/Sissy so that's one less thing to pack. I can make do with what's around me but I'd prefer to expedite the trip with living off my back. If I get burned out emotionally or mentally, find a town, rent a hotel room and just vegetate for a few days and then ruck up again. I feel like this trip, if I do take this expedition, will help me deal with my anger from abuse growing up, possible PTSD from growing up and constant fury I feel all the time. I've always enjoyed ruck marches in the military. Hikes were always easier to me because it's at your own pace. So, any words fellow padded friends?

  2. #2


    I'm sure you've done website research. I only wonder about your timing. You say it will last up to six months. That puts you into October thru December time frame where the weather could turn nasty. I would think about doing an April through October trip if possible.

  3. #3


    Well... I'd suggest that fitness DOES matter from the standpoint of making it more pleasant. It takes some time for muscles and tendons to adapt to constant hard use. You won't notice the first day, or the second, but the third or fourth.... fatigue is cumulative. Maybe more important, some practical knowledge of fueling and hydration as it relates to your personal systems. That said, you're not aiming for any speed records, so speed and distance will be self regulating, and after the first 6 weeks, you'll either be well on your way to adapting or a DNF.

    In any case, this would be the time to do it before you're locked into other responsibilities. I've been on a couple of short segments of the trail, but a long time ago, and don't recall enough to be helpful.

    Edit: A cautionary anecdote on the above. At about your age, I rode my bike around Lake Michigan. Not really understanding the importance of fluid intake, I got behind one day, and all my back muscle seized up as I bent down to crawl in my tent. I spent the night laying on a deserted beach just outside the tent because I couldn't move enough to get inside, and worse, not knowing that it was a minor problem. Under other circumstance, things could have turned out a LOT worse. Since then, via endurance sports, I've learned a lot more about exercise physiology. Part of the function of training is to learn how your system functions under long periods of hard work, and what you need to do to keep it working efficiently.

    Reading about it is all well and good, but its better to also understand it physically, what it all feels like, so you're not surprised by system failure when you're alone in the middle of nowhere. Would you feel the difference between bonk (running out of glycogen) and ordinary fatigue? Bonk is easily preventable if you understand your personal fuel mileage, and fixable on the fly if you get it wrong. Knowing the difference could save you from having to make a stop in an inhospitable place.
    Last edited by Maxx; 27-Dec-2015 at 13:06.

  4. #4


    I had some neighbors who geared up to do this a while back. Lots of information on this, and it's a bit more involved than I think you're anticipating at this point. Remember this isn't walking down a nice flat trail at times. The Appalachians are indeed a chain of mountains. Anyhow, there are tons of resources on this. You can start here:

    Note that in much of the trail just marching off the travelled trail and pitching a tent is a big no-no. Please be respectful of the environment.

  5. #5


    My cousin did this and her takeaway is this:

    Bathing is optional. Smelling absolutely disgusting is not.
    You find out REALLY fast exactly WHAT essentials really are. You are hiking hundreds, possibly thousands of miles; so how much weight you carry is imperatively important.
    You will meet people whom will stick with you in a sort of group along the way.
    Anywhere off the trail that you walk, someone at some point in time has peed there.
    After one week, your shoulders get used to it.

  6. #6


    Living in Lynchburg, VA, I live close enough to the trail to get a number of news tidbits on our local news. It's become so popular that the stations where you can spend the night have become big party hangouts for younger hikers. There has been a lot of drug activity, crime and police response, so be careful and have an alternative plan, like tenting, etc.

  7. #7


    I can do it but I'm on the fence still. Been Gyming it up hard for a Year and entered the 1000lb club finally and don't want to make all the hard work and money go to waste but the rail is a once in a lifetime event. I know I can do it. I have the endurance in my traps for this kind of thing but I'd need to practice, so to speak for a few months. Increase distance by x for a few and then let the trail be the "test" so to speak.

  8. #8


    Decades ago as a younger adult with Mild Cerebral Palsy, I did hike up/down Mount Wiley in Crawford Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail. A very difficult hard hike for me, given that the slope of the trail was mostly at a 40 to 45 degree angle up and down that mountain.

  9. #9


    Food is your friend. I scaled a 5000 foot mountain up and down in a day once. Me a my pal ate so much food it was ridiculous afterwards.

  10. #10


    I've been thinking this for years now. Hiked a mile of it myself. Check a book called AWOL on the Appalachian. Great book written by a prominent thru hiker. Read it twice myself.

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