A Day In The Life of an AT Thru-Hiker
For those who are unfamiliar with the backpacking lifestyle, here is a brief overview of a typical day in the life of a thru-hiker. If you have never backpacked you may think this type of lifestyle may be stressful, and involve lots of planning, however it is actually quite simple. I will give you a little run down of what runs through my head throughout the day.
Really one of the biggest things to think about throughout the day is how much water is available. How much do I currently have, and where is the next available source.
Since it is now summertime, there is less available sources, since many are now dried up. Since there is many town crossings, I tend to carry out of town at least two to three liters of water. You can make it a while on trail with limited food, but having enough water is absolutely crucial.
Since we live outside, us thru-hikers are pretty much always concerned about when it’s going to rain next. Even though we can hike through the rain, most of us prefer not to because hiking with soaking wet shoes and socks absolutely sucks.
If it is going to rain, we regroup with our buddies and run through our options for finding shelter. Depending on how close we are to a town will influence our options. If we are not close to a town we will most likely head to the closest shelter on trail, or at least try to set up our tents or hammocks before the heavy rain begins. The other night a friend and I even stashed our packs in a campsite privy to keep them dry from the torrential down pour.
However if we are close enough to get into a town, the options are limitless. We have spent many nights at cheap motels, park pavilions, or our favorite, bunking up with locals.
Locals get their own category in this blog because they have been such a huge part of our trail journey, especially the second half of the trail.
We have been taken in by all types of locals. You name a type of person and we have probably been hosted by them. Sometimes we will just be sitting at a local restaurant and locals will see our backpacks, strike up a conversation and next thing you know we are enjoying an evening of luxury, boating on a lake.
The different walks of life we come across traveling up the east coast via foot are quite diverse and interesting. Many stereotypes I had in my head previously to this trip have been proven wrong. For example, I thought confederate flags were only still flown in some places down south, but last night walking down a country road in Vermont, I learned that there are still confederate supporters to this day in New England.
One thing is for sure though, no matter where we have been along this journey, everyone has been more than kind to us. We have never waited for longer than fifteen or twenty minutes to find a ride to the gas station or to and from the trail. Out of all my experiences I have had on trail, the kindness of the locals really stands out. Shoutout to everyone reading this who has hosted my friends and I, especially to Twister and Limited Master who brought us to their beautiful lake house near Great Barrington.
The Hiking Itself
I have talked about many things besides the hiking, so I guess I should touch on that here too.
At the beginning of the trail it was hard to imagine the days where we wake up and bust out twenty miles easily with no stress or problem. I still remember when a twelve or fifteen mile day was long and took almost all day. Now I can confidently wake up and do a twenty plus mile day.
From spending the past four and a half months hiking, I am now very well aware of my timing and pace, something I couldn’t have gauged at the start. If about two hours have passed I know I have probably gone about five miles or so depending on the terrain.
Just like the Smoky Mountains were daunting in the south, we now have the Great White Mountains lying ahead in New Hampshire. Instead of being nervous I now feel excited and confident about climbing these bad boys.
Trail family is really everything out here. I have said this before and say it again because it is so true. Not that I don’t have fun on days without them, but it just isn’t quite the same. These few friends who have become my trail family mean everything to me. They keep me going on this journey. It’s a harsh world out there, but I get by with a little help from my friends.
Yesterday I crossed into Vermont, we now have three states left to go and I intend to make them the best three states yet. I think the worst day on trail will be the day I summit Katahdin but it will also be a joyous one. However it will mean that this epic hike will have come to an end. I will always however remain connected to the trail, my trail family and will continue to carry this type of lifestyle and the lessons I have learned for the rest of my life.
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