Sunday, April 1, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

Appalachian Trail Map

What exactly is this "A.T." you refer to?

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, or A. T. for short, is a continuous footpath that extends 2174 miles (3498 km) from Georgia to Maine.

Although sometimes mis-labeled as an old Native American trail or pioneer trade route, the A.T. was constructed in the 1920-30s by volunteers purely for recreational use.

Plenty more information is available at Wikipedia.

You're kidding, right? You're walking the entire way? How long will that take?
A typical thru-hike takes from 5-7 months. Lauren and will be carrying lightweight gear and have been preparing in advance, so we expect our thru-hike to take about 4-5 months.

Sounds like a lot of work... Are you crazy?
No doubt. To complete the trail, we will each take nearly 5 million steps (less for me, more for Lauren!), and vertically climb 144.5km (90 miles). That will be like climbing Mt. Everest from sea level to summit over 16 times.

How do you carry that much food?
A thru-hiker may consume 4,000-6,000 calories per day depending on the load he or she carries and the distance covered. Every week or so, we'll be stopping in towns to buy groceries or pick up supplies that we've mailed ahead.

Are you going to be all alone out there?
Well, not exactly. The first thru-hiker completed the trail in 1948. Currently each year about 2,000 people attempt to hike the entire trail, however, only about 400 finish. Many will drop out very early, plenty before we even begin.

We certainly enjoy solitude and the wilderness, but don't know that the A.T. will provide a great deal of either. As might be imagined, we hear that a typical thru-hike experience might be quite social. However, by staying off trail under our tarp instead of in the crowded lean-to shelters, we will create a few more opportunities for peace & quiet.

How far will you hike each day?
We plan to pace ourselves and ease into it, but we will be hiking 20-24 miles per day (32-38km) before too long.

Where will you sleep?
We plan to stay most nights in our tarp shelter, and spend the occasional night in town for a hot shower and an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Aren't you afraid of bears?
No. Do we respect them? Of course. We hear that the mice in the shelters are more of a problem, though.

What will you carry? For a trip so long, won't that be heavy?
Actually a trip that long requires less than you might think.

Most hikers carry 25-35 pounds of gear (11-16 kg) before food and water, which are constantly fluctuating.

I have created much of my gear from lightweight materials and have learned how to use them. The total equipment we will carry before food and water weighs about 8 pounds (3.6 kg). Knowledge doesn't weight anything!

See our Gear List page for some more specifics on what we're bringing.

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