About This Site

Hi friends,

Welcome to The Trek, formerly known as Appalachian Trials (here’s why we made the switch).

What is the Trek?

theTrek.co is dedicated to shining a spotlight on current hikers’ journeys.  We have more than a hundred current thru-hikers sharing their journeys right here on this site.  Whether you want to be entertained, informed, or just live vicariously through the adventures of those who have dropped everything to walk ridiculously long distances, you’ve come to the right place.  We also offer future hikers a platform to share their journey with a large (and growing) community.

theTrek.co is dedicated to helping future hikers.  We’ve got a slew of excellent writers (primarily former thru-hikers) dishing out invaluable advice- whether you’re curious about which gear to buy, how to save money on the trail, where to send mail drops, or how to avoid injury- we’ve got ya covered.

theTrek.co is dedicated to celebrating our country’s long trails, long distance backpacking, and the hiker trash community.  Because anyone who’s spent any time on any of this country’s long trails knows firsthand just how magical our trails and its people are.  We are here to showcase this wonderful way of life and those who make it so.

theTrek.co is where you go to get All Things Long-Distance Backpacking.  We strive to be Hiker Trash’s go-to resource not only for the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail, but thru-hiking and long-distance backpacking at large.  So, if there’s anything that you can’t find on this site- let us know– and we will change that.  We read every email and hope to create the best experience possible.

But above all, we strive to inspire you to get out and Trek for yourself.  Life is too short to compromise on your dreams.  We hope that we can serve as that friendly kick in the butt to get you out of your chair and into the mountains!  Live big!

To ensure that you stay current with all that we have to offer, we encourage you to subscribe through any and all of the below channels:

If you want the best from The Trek:

Like The Trek on Facebook

Follow The Trek on Twitter

Follow The Trek on Instagram

If you want the best from the Appalachian Trail:

Like The Trek: AT on Facebook

Follow The Trek: AT on Twitter

Follow The Trek: AT on Instagram

If you want the best from just the Pacific Crest Trail: 

Like The Trek: PCT on Facebook

Follow The Trek: PCT on Twitter

Follow The Trek: PCT on Instagram

Shoutout to Krystian “Snap” Repolona for the terrific AT photo and Nick Clicks for the baller PCT photo in our footer!

About Zach “Badger” Davis and Appalachian Trials

My name is Zach Davis (some know me as the Good Badger); I’m the author of Appalachian Trials (no- that’s not a typo), a revolutionary Appalachian Trail Book.

In 2011, I blew a fuse.

I was working 70-80 hours a week, pounding away robotically on my laptop.  My life lacked purpose and fulfillment.  My days were somehow both dull and stressful.  A change was needed…

So I went on a half-year hike through the mountains (also known as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail).

Despite having been on a total of zero backpacking trips prior to embarking (not an exaggeration), I was able to join the minority of hikers who complete the full ~2,200 mile distance from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine (about 70% quit).  I was able to do this because I took a very unorthodox approach in my training.

From an early age, I was drawn to psychology and self-help texts.  To prepare for the AT, I synthesized all that I had learned from years of reading these books and applied the techniques which resonated with me to this seemingly impossible task.  So, instead of preparing for a physical challenge, I readied myself for a mental battle.  I focused almost all of my pre-trail efforts on strengthening the gear between my ears.

Along the way I witnessed experienced backpackers (including former military and accomplished section hikers) falling off the trail all around me.  The hikers who had in-depth knowledge of living outdoors did no better than those with my skill-set (see: none).  Those in prime physical condition did no better than the couch-potato.  In other words, my premonition was proving correct:

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is a psychological challenge.

Surprisingly, at the time of my thru-hike, there were no resources available for aspiring thru-hikers to help them mentally prepare for this incredible, yet daunting journey.  I felt compelled to take the task on myself.  Five months after finishing my thru-hike, Appalachian Trials was born.

In the book, I not only share the tactics which helped me persevere through my own “trials” (including contracting West Nile virus halfway into the hike), but also observations of what separated those who persist versus those who quit.

Specifically, in Appalachian Trials readers learn:

  • How to implement goal setting techniques that will assure they reach Katahdin
  • How to avoid the most common pitfalls
  • How to beat “the Virginia Blues”
  • The importance of and meaning behind “hiking your own hike”
  • How to build unwavering mental endurance
  • The most common mistake made in the final stretch of the Trail
  • Tips for enjoying rather than enduring each of the five million steps along the journey
  • Strategies for readjusting to life after the trail, including how to avoid post-trail depression and weight gain.

In addition, the bonus section of the book also provides a thorough gear chapter written by AT and PCT thru-hiker Ian Mangiardi, tips on how to save money on the Trail, and a detailed FAQ section.

I am proud to say, according to the Amazon reviews, Appalachian Trials serves as a vital resource for anyone preparing for a long-distance backpacking trip.

If you’re interested in learning more about Appalachian Trials, you can read the first chapter for FREE here.



Many of the gear links on this site are affiliate links (although not all).  That is to say, if you end up purchasing something through one of our links, the website will receive a small commission on the sale.  Bloggers are never instructed on which items to review or and no writer is ever given direction on how to rate an item. The items showcased by The Trek Bloggers (e.g. gear lists) are entirely of their own accord; they do not receive any incentive from The Trek for the gear they carry or choose to write about on this site.  We will only ever give you our honest advice, whether it be gear or otherwise.

If you would like to support the site, a simple way to do so would be to use one of our links if you are going to make a gear purchase: REI.com, Backcountry.com, Amazon.com, Patagonia.com, GearTrade.com, Moosejaw.com, SierraTradingPost.com, or ula-equipment.com.  We also advocate many options to buy cheap and affordable gear in which we receive no compensation (such as REI Garage Sales or the Gear Flea Market on Facebook).

Thank you for stopping by the site.

Happy hiking,

Zach (Badger)

Comments 113

  • Mike : Feb 19th

    Thanks for this great resource Zach. I really enjoy seeing articles from different guest writers who all hike and love the outdoors.

  • Thomas McLean : May 13th

    Hey Zach,
    Great story….please check out Michael Gurnow’s book, Nature’s Housekeeper…he went through the same metamorphosis—wasa college prof and then one day becamse a trail maintainence worker. Naive but a learning expereince.

  • Dawn Anderson : Feb 22nd

    Hey Zach,
    My son and I started a business two years ago making freeze-dried backpacking meals, originally intended for people on the Paleo Diet, but we’re finding lots of other folks like them. We’ve had dozens of requests for sponsorship from people who are thru hiking and have special dietary needs, like they need to be gluten or dairy free, for example. We’re a young company with little cash flow (I got a home equity line of credit on my modest house and that how we started the business) and a lot of start up costs to pay back so we can’t sponsor everyone who asks, from a financial standpoint, we just can’t do it. But we’d like people to know that there is an option out there for gluten free, milk free, soy free, grain free, delicious meals. We have little advertising budget so I’m writing to see if you’d be willing to write a review or an article or post or something that would inform all of your readers that we make these meals. We do have a sponsorship plan that gives the hikers a coupon code based on increasingly higher percentages off their meals if they write some blog posts and do a few assigned tasks to help us with advertising. Would you be willing to work with us to inform your readership of this great opportunity for clean freeze-dried, high protein meals? We’d sure appreciate any help or suggestions you can give us. Thanks so much for your time, Dawn Anderson, Co-owner/founder, Paleo Meals To Go.

  • Piper Lofrano : Apr 25th

    Hi Zach,

    I’m going on a backpacking trip and the guide to the best base layers is a great resource!My name is Piper and I’m with Ezoic, one of the Google Certified Publishing Partners.

    We have developed a machine learning system that automates the process of testing ad sizes, locations, colors, types of ads (display, native, etc), and most importantly how ads dilute one another.

    We’ve found that testing and optimizing the ad placements in a systematic way can boost revenue upwards of 60%. I’d love to share some additional info about what we’ve learned…. do let me know if you’re interested in hearing more!


  • Jeff G. : Jul 29th

    Zach– Give some info on the Colorado trail…. I have the book about the trail but have been a little apprehensive about doing it because of altitude issues. Did you have any problems?

    • Zach : Aug 2nd

      Hey Jeff-

      Here’s the most important piece of info: it’s a spectacular trail and you should absolutely hike it. If you’re worried about the altitude (which can be problematic for some, I didn’t have much of an issue), I suggest hiking the more common south / westbound route from Denver to Durango. The elevation gain is much more gradual this way. You won’t reach 10,000 feet until segment four, which gives you about 70-miles to acclimate. Also, stay well hydrated!


  • AhnBailm : Oct 18th


  • jim Mo : Apr 15th

    Zack, my wife and are planning a hike for our 25 year anniversary for a week end of Aug. We have only done day hikes mostly around Steamboat CO. not overnight. We want to hire a outfitter to outfits us with gear and supplies. We were thinking about a piece of the Appalachian Trail. Do you have a section of the trail you would recommend, and a outfitter you would recomend? Also would you recomend a different hike around the country besides the AT. We live in WI.

  • John Van Etten : Aug 2nd

    Hi Zach, how many folks follow the trek, web site, FB & Instagram – Thanks!


  • Lisa McCormick : Aug 26th

    How do I submit a photo of my son who just finished his thru-hike?

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