Excuses to Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail
Here are some of the reasons I am thru-hiking the AT starting in mid-March 2020. Starting in Georgia, of course, headed NOBO toward Mount Katahdin. I’ve thrown in some helpful advice that I have acquired over the years.
1. Take the Traditional Route
I want my thru-hike to be as authentic as possible. Besides, going northbound seems to be a more reasonable and wiser idea. If anything goes south at least there would be a lot of people around, hahaha. Going north is practical because I am from Massachusetts. Finishing in Maine is a lot closer to home that Georgia. And besides, starting or ending in Georgia is 17 hours from Massachusetts either way.
2. More Towns, Showers and FOOD
Starting in Georgia and ending in Maine means that there will be more town opportunities than going southbound, although you pass through the same towns going in either direction. Most of the accommodations that are available for northbound hikers are usually closed by the time SOBOs are past the halfway point in Pennsylvania.
2a. Here’s a Bar of Soap
Even if you pass through town and you’re not staying there, you might still be able to take a shower even if it’s a birdbath in a bathroom sink.
2b. Food, Lots of Food!
What hiker doesn’t want to stuff their face with scrumptious calories that they may or may not regret eating the next day.
2c. Buy Town Food from Grocery Stores
Plain and simple, if the town you’re resupplying at has a produce section buy lunch or dinner and breakfast for the zero day. Your wallet and digestive system will thank you if you eat everything but junk food in town.
3. Guides and Navigation
The AT was originally designed for hikers to go north, not south. That is why I chose the direction of going NOBO. Some of my family members disagree on my mission to start in the south. Personally, in my gear arsenal I will have both a guidebook and a GPS tracker app on my phone. It’s critical to have some way of navigating the AT. Ya, I know it’s a very well-marked trail, but people do get lost when they are not prepared.
Awol’s guidebook 2020 edition: https://www.theatguide.com/
4. Timing Is Everything, Planning not so Much
This will be my first thru-hike attempt ever. Who needs a 9-5 job right out of college? I have the degree but I have been planning to hike the AT for the last four or five years. I have been on many overnight and weekend hiking trips and at least one full backpacking trip. Most people have to pay for a car, student debt, a house or apartment, health insurance, phone bill. Also, if you’re married, then you have your spouse and kids. I don’t have any of these yet. Really, the only bills I may have to pay for while on trail are health insurance and a cell phone bill.
The countdown begins. Georgia, here I come.
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