3 Common Myths About Thru-hiking the A.T.

At the Start

When most people decide to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail they usually start reading blogs and journals and talking to former and current thru-hikers to gather information and do their best to prepare mentally and physically for the challenge ahead.


I did the same thing, but what I have learned in the last 720+ miles is that there are several discrepancies in the information I read/was given and what I know now. So, I decided to write down a few of them with the hope that some people don’t feel mislead and or disappointed when they hit the trail.

Myth #1: You will lose weight on the trail.


Truth: Everyone’s body is different and will react differently to this kind of trip. Some people will lose varying amounts of weight while others will actually gain weight. I’ve lost close to 19 lbs, but fellow hiker and friend Joaquin gained 10 lbs.

Myth #2: The trail equalizes us all.

Truth: Yes, the trail will challenge everyone, but no, it will not equalize everyone. Every person who steps on the trail is at a different point in their life, mentally and physically, and will most likely continue to be throughout the trip. A couch potato is not going to feel the same doing a 25 or 30 mile day as an athlete will. Someone who doesn’t like large groups may change their mileage based on whether or not they are in a big bubble of other hikers while someone who doesn’t care one way or the other will just do whatever they feel like that day. That’s not to say either one in either situation is better or worse than the other, they are just different.

Myth #3: Virginia is flat.

Dragon's Tooth

Truth: Someone lied to you. Mountains are not flat. Virginia is not flat. There are many ridges that make it easier to go more miles some days, but there are A LOT of long, steep ups and downs to get you there. Fellow hiker Break Neck theorizes that “Virginia is flat” is a cruel joke former thru-hikers made up for new thru-hikers. Seeing as how I’m in a parking lot at the trail head trying to convince myself it’s time to start this 1,300′ elevation gain I’m inclined to agree.

I’m sure there are other things I still have to learn that can be added to this list later and I can’t decide how I feel about that at the moment.

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Comments 2

  • Taylor Ciambra : Jun 23rd

    OMG #3. VIRGINIA IS NOT FLAT. Definitely a trick someone is playing. We need to end that right now.

  • Justin Richardson : Nov 16th

    Hey Wild Child!!! It’s Deadwood! I met you on my second or third day out on the AT. It was probably March 13 or 24th or so. We ended our hike together at Gooch Mountain shelter, but you hiked back to be with your friend who was having foot issues. Glad to read this post from you and hope you are well! Did you summit Mt Katahdin?


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