10 Must Have Songs To Take You To Katahdin

Some people fancy the idea of listening to the sounds of nature as they are strolling through the wide wilderness and shun the idea of an iPod or MP3 player on the trail. As a former thru hiker, I think that’s bunk. (Bunk is what my mom always said when I was a kid and she didn’t want me to hear her say the word “bullshit”.) When you are sick of hearing your own wheezing as you climb a mountain, when you want to shut out that annoying guy who has been hiking behind you for a full week, when you want to drown out the drone of cicadas…you will wish you had some music!

Here are ten songs that (supposedly) have nothing to do with the AT but they will pump you up for big climbs, accentuate your epic life, comfort you in hard times or just resonate within you because of the beautiful way in which you are experiencing the world while on the trail.

Big Rock Candy Mountain” by Harry McClintock

This song isn’t about the AT but no thru hiker would be able to tell. I mean, come on, the name of the song is Katahdin. Right? That big rock candy mountain off in the distance that you dream of. That land far away where life is perrrrfect! The bum singin’ this song was probably just a thru hiker!

Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

This is the Appalachian Trail theme song. No matter where I was and who I was around, this was the first song to be played if a guitar was present. I don’t know what it is about it, but the young and the old, the hip and the uncool, the underground and the pop culture fiends all know and play this song on the AT. No complaints here!

Can’t Go Back Now” by The Weepies

This is a sad song to me. Maybe because a hiking partner made me listen to it when I told him I wanted to quit in Virginia. When I heard it, I assumed that it was written from one thru hiker to another about why they can’t quit. It’s all to perfect for ay other solution. In the state of mind I was in, it made me cry because it spoke so truly to my need for encouragement at that time. When it gets tough, don’t quit. Just listen to this song!

Into The Wild” by LP

Remember that Citi Bank commercial? The one where that badass chick is scaling some spire in the desert? Well that is Katie Brown (she scales spire in the desert for a living) and the rock is Ancient Art in Moab. Anyway, the song playing in the background of the commercial is kind of epic during those moments when you have just conquered Mother Nature and are taking in the view.

The Blood of Cu Chulainn” by Mychael Danna

Some folks will know this as the theme song to the movie The Boondock Saints. Besides the fact that it is brought to us by a ridiculously good movie, listening to it also severely ups the beauty of some of the most gorgeous parts of the trail. Blast this while you’re in places like the Roan Highlands, Greyson Highlands and the Presidentials and you almost feel like you’re in Ireland. It calls for a cinematic 360 panorama of you basking in the glory of AT beauty at its finest.

Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers

During your hike, you will come to love the mountains in a deep way (after you’ve found that hating them is futile). In a literal sense, this is such a love song to mountains. Figuratively, it’s about some lucky lady who has a real poet of a guy who seems to dig her a lot.

Come Fly Away” by Jeremy Fisher

I’m not a pop music kind of person (so much so that I’m guessing this is pop music?) but sometimes on the trail you just need some feel good tunes to make the rain not suck so much. This is one of that songs and it incidentally has a lryic which is a very important thing for thru hikers to remember: “Once you get above that clouds, they are all sunny days.” Because that can happen… hiking up until the rain is lower than you… it’s satisfying and frustrating at the same time. “Thank God it quit raining! Does this mountain really have to be this big?!”

Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

It’s clique these days but it’s a beautiful, happy and freeing song. Also, it has never been more true than on the AT. Home becomes wherever you and your hiking partners are. There are so many awesome people on the AT that you will come to know and love but you will probably fall in with a tight crew. These people become your family; brothers and sisters you will hold tightly to for all you are worth. They will be home.

Started From The Bottom” by Drake

Started from the bottom, which is known as Springer Mountain. Now the whole hiker trash team is here, which is called Katahdin. Didn’t know Drake was a thru hiker, did you? Okay, so he probably doesn’t even know what the AT is and let’s not forget that “the bottom” for Drake was being a cast member for Degrassi, but at least he has given us a great theatrical assignment. They first thru hiker to rewrite the song in hiker lingo and film them and their hiker trash buddies all the way from Georgia to Maine wins a million brownie points redeemable for a mediocre amount of YouTube views.

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Comments 2

  • Brave Turtle : Apr 28th

    As a current thruhiker, I’m making a playlist while at a hostel right now since I have wifi, and I’m adding these to my playlist so that I can enjoy them tomorrow. Thank you. 🙂

  • Travis : Feb 21st

    That’s a shockingly good list. Thanks.


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